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Parenting isn’t easy, but when you have twins you might as well just join the circus. It’s a constant juggling act, and some days it feels like you are dangling from a rope 40ft above the ground, holding on to 2 wild babies or toddlers desperately trying not to fall down. Other days, you feel like a clown and you might as well just laugh at the craziness of it all. Well I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be all hard. There are ways you can simplify your life when it comes to twins.
1. Setup a big playpen area
Those twins of yours are now starting to crawl, or they are about to. You can childproof all you like but you might miss something, and what do you do when you need to prep a meal?
You could drive yourself crazy and keep an eye on your twins while cooking, after all we all have eyes in the back of our heads don’t we? Or you could simplify your life and get a big gate like the one I got: Baby Diego Cub’Zone Playpen and Activity Center.
Yes this might look like a prison, albeit a nice one, but this gated area actually serves 3 purposes:
- It keeps them safe while giving them space to roam without hearing you constantly saying no and creating unnecessary frustration for everyone.
- It gives you peace of mind while you cook, and dare we say, go to the bathroom.
- It improves their gross motor skills. They can use the gate to prop themselves up and later on to support themselves as they learn to walk. My twins would toddle holding on to the gate all day long. Ian especially loved doing this. He practiced so hard and so long I thought for sure he had joined some walking marathon I wasn’t aware of. They were both walking by the time they were 13 months old.
What works best is if you incorporate this gate with your current living room setup so it makes a larger play area. Put it in a location they are already used to playing in.
Originally we tried using the playpen on its own with all 8 gates enclosed, but it was too small of an area, our twins were miserable and would constantly cry. When we modified the gate setup to use our couches to extend the play area, our twins were happy as clams and would play in there without a single protest (except during teething season) even if mamma was off in the kitchen cooking. The playpen can be a bit pricey but it’s well worth the investment since it can be used for a long time and in multiple ways. Today we use it to fence off the TV area.
Eventually when your twins are old enough to understand instructions and listen, and essentially old enough to protest at being in their little prison, then you let them roam around the house and TV becomes the new prison if you need them to stay put while you cook. Although lately I’ve relied less and less on screen time to keep them occupied.
2. Teach them how to get down
Once they learn to stand and walk, they are going to want to climb. Luckily in our case it has only been the couches. The first thing I did when I saw them climbing was to teach them how to get back down especially since their play area was setup around the couches. Anytime they would try to get down head first, I would say “feet first” and move them around accordingly. I repeated this every time they tried to get down from the couch. I think it took a few weeks and eventually they were getting down on their own in a safe manner. Teaching this skill early on simplifies your life by giving you peace of mind when you aren’t able to keep your eyes on both twins or when you are busy in the kitchen.
3. Teach them to go up and down the stairs
Getting anywhere with twins is a production. That production turns into a nightmare when you realize you waited too long to teach a critical skill like going up and down the stairs:
When my twinkies were 17 months old, I took them to their very first playgroup hosted by the local community. When we got there I noticed there were stairs leading up to the entrance. At this point my twins didn’t know how to climb stairs yet. ‘F*ck!’ I thought, but I noticed I could access the entrance through the side parking lot and bypass the stairs. The only thing in the way was a ramp. I thought ‘well we are here, let’s do this. I’ll just carry one twin and lead the other one by the hand.’ This was Ian’s first time walking on cement ground and he was all kinds of fascinated. It took an eternity to get to the damn entrance.
We finally got there and now we had to bypass the ramp. I ducked underneath with Sam while showing Ian how to do the same. I was sweating my ass off at this point even though It was 30 degrees outside. I opened the door, and double f*ckity f*ck! There were more stairs. To add insult to injury, at the top of the stairs was a sign indicating the playgroup was located on the second floor. Somehow, I had to go up two flight of stairs with my twins who had never climbed stairs before. Beautif*ckenful!
I held Sam in my arms while showing Ian how to climb the stairs, positioning myself behind him to be safe. Meanwhile Sam was wiggling like a worm because he wanted to join in on the fun of course! We finally made it to the first flight of stairs, and now I was totally drenched in sweat. At this point Sam had turned into the exorcist bending his back backwards and flailing around like a possessed demon. ‘F*ck this’ I thought. I put Sam down instructing him to climb up the stairs with his brother. By climbing I mean they were crawling up those stairs, their hands touching millions of germs along the way but I didn’t care at this point. Painfully, slowly, they made their way up. I followed behind them praying to God they wouldn’t do something crazy like try to turn back around.
This shit took 15 minutes, and since we had gotten there late there was about 20 minutes left of playtime. I had all kinds of choice words for this playgroup. Why in the name of God would anyone setup a playgroup on the second floor, why?! I may have cursed loudly when we finally made it to the top of the stairs, gaining the wrath of all parents there because their children may have heard “f*ck” for the very first time. Not a proud moment.
That night and every day since my twins have been practicing going up and down the stairs. I have taught them how to get back down the stairs in a safe manner (crawling backwards). This will be our method until they are tall enough to walk down the steps holding on to my hand or the ramp. Here is a video of it.
Folks do yourself a favor and teach your twins this important skill. It will simplify your life when you are out and about, and eliminate the amount of times you have to carry them if you have stairs at home as well.
4. Teach them to wait by the car
I’ve always relied on my double stroller to keep my kids safe whenever we get out of the car, since one twin is always belted in while I get the other one. I had never given a thought to teaching my twins to wait by the car until I met the president of my local twins club. When I found out she had taught her twins to do so by the time they were 1.5 years old, I looked at her in awe, thinking she must surely be a demigod. I asked her “but how?” Repetition and consistency are key in teaching this skill she responded simply. It also helps to get a magnet with hand illustrations called parking pal that you can affix to your car. This magnet comes with a book to teach car safety, and whenever you get in or out of the car you say “hands on the car” and point to the magnet. You can get it here: Parking Pal Car Magnet and Children’s Safety Book (Trucks).
Eventually your twins will grow out of the stroller, or you may have to go somewhere that isn’t double stroller friendly. For these reasons, car safety is an important skill to teach. I will admit, it has been tough so far. I don’t feel confident teaching this skill in my driveway, we have a pretty busy street. Teaching it in the garage isn’t exactly working, it’s so littered with toys it might as well be an amusement park. For now, I have been reading the book to my twins, and whenever we go to the car, I remind them to touch the magnet and wait. Usually one twin wanders off to inspect the garage while I belt the other one in, but lately I’ve noticed them showing a growing interest in the magnet and touching it.
The parking pal magnet is a low cost item that goes a long way to teach your twins car safety. In the long run, this will simplify your life when you are in a location that isn’t easily accessed with a double stroller, or when your twins have outgrown their strollers.
5. Use a water faucet extender and a stool
I used to wash my twins’ hands the hard way, holding each one with one arm while washing their hands with the other. My back was not happy about this. Obviously, there isn’t much of a choice when they are little but when they start to walk and are tall enough, save your back and get yourself a water faucet extender and a stool.
My twins were so excited when I introduced these items. They appreciated their newfound independence and gladly washed their hands. In the past, hand washing had been a constant battle, they would never keep still. The stool can also be used later on for potty training on the big toilet. These two simple items have been the best low cost purchases I’ve made to date. They simplify your life by eliminating constant struggles during hand washing, and you avoid carrying your twins more than you already have to.
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