Mothering Twins: What It’s Really Like

posted in: Babies, Motherhood, Twins 38 comments

Whenever I am out with the twins, we get stared at a lot. Granted, twins aren’t so uncommon these days, but they are no less fascinating. 

Some folks venture to start a conversation, especially in the elevator of our condominium (technically, we are all neighbours, aren’t we?), the first question naturally is, “Are they twins?” (Yes), followed by, “So this is the girl, and that’s the boy!” (Yes, what gave it away? Her dress or his blue blanket?)

If someone is goingto a floor higher than mine, hence staying in the elevator until I get to my floor (gah), I get this statement often: “It must be hard with two babies.”(No comment, I usually just smile and nod politely.)

The real answer is this: It is hard, and it is easy. 

Twins feature

It really depends on the hour and the day, and how much coffee I’ve had that day. It depends on if my husband is busy at work or is traveling, or if he has more time at home. It depends on the behavior and moods of my older children. It depends on how I’m feeling about my capabilities as a wife and mother, at any given minute. 

Sometimes, I think it’s harder to be the babies. The reality is, someone is always going to be unhappy/ dissatisfied/ discontent/ impatient. I am one person, looking after two people who are 100 percent reliant on me for every single thing in their lives. Granted, those things are simple – basic needs. Feed, sleep, purge, cuddle. On an endless cycle.

As civilized folk, our babies should also be dressed, and relatively clean. In our current parenting-theoried-out society, they are also expected to be played with, entertained, exposed to various sensory activities, read to, carried/ attached to their mother, attend baby yoga classes and Kindermusik sessions. 

Who has time for that yoga-music shit?

But back to the babies. Since they do grow bigger (yay me), they no longer fit on the twin breastfeeding pillow at the same time. This means I can no longer tandem nurse, which was a huge time-saver. Feeding one child at a time for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, every two to three hours, equals a lot of exposed breasts around here. It also means a lot of diaper changes (let’s not go into the cloth diapering discussion here, because in a household of six, I already have a lot of laundry to deal with. I do not want to wash things I could throw away, given the option. Sorry, eco folks. I do recycle things though!)

Essentially, it’s a lot of turn taking. Babies do not understand the concept of taking turns. When I’m feeding/ changing one, it means the other isn’t being fed/ changed. The one unattended to at that very moment will wail out of discontent/ impatience. This happens about 50 percent of the time, on any given day. 

Being a twin is hard. 

Since I’m only one person with two hands and limited strength and dexterity, it also means that I have to carry one baby at a time, when we’re moving positions (from bed to rocker, from rocker to changing table or bed, from changing table to rocker, from rocker to floor, from floor to bed – geez, there’s a lot of movement around here, when are you kids walking again?). I think I cover 10,000 steps a day. I also have biceps of steel. On my favoured arm (yay me again). 

It also means that normal things take a ton of time. Like bathing them. Putting clothes on them. Feeding them solids (because yes, we’ve moved onto that now, don’t they grow fast?). Making said solid food. Washing all the things associated with feeding. It’s not double the time as one would think. It feels like triple or more. I spend a lot of time bathing, changing, feeding, washing. One or the other twin, spends a lot of time waiting for me to finish bathing/ changing the other one, and for me to make and wash all the things. 

Being a twin is really hard. 

Did I mention I have FOUR children? One of whom isn’t potty trained yet (almost! ALMOST), both can dress themselves, both still need me to clean them up (the 5 year old wants to take showers on his own, but I’m pretty sure his idea of cleanliness falls far from my standards), both require feeding all the time (what’s up with that, perpetually hungry children), and one leaves trails of tiny cars and Lego pieces all around the house, because I have so much spare time in between twin things, to either navigate tiny pieces of foot shrapnel, or clean that crap up. 

Thank goodness for school. 

The conclusion is this: it takes a lot of time to get through the daily things when you have twins (I haven’t even touched on sleep yet, that’s a whole other post!). To be honest, I can’t remember what it’s like to just have one baby, so mothering twins is not hard, because I can’t compare this to what I don’t remember. It’s easy on many days because my babies are actually pretty good kids. Even if half the time, one or the other is impatient and doesn’t like this turn-taking business, and lets me know it. Loudly. 

I wouldn’t trade this for anything though. Two to love? And two to love me back? I couldn’t ask for more. Also, babies holding hands is the best thing ever. 

Twins holding hands

Alison
Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and DrGreene.com. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).
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  • April 13, 2015 Christine

    I can’t. Your kids are too cute, especially when they are holding hands or taking a bite out of each other’s cheeks/arms/face.
    Christine recently wrote…Friday Round-Up: Progress and Mental TrainingMy Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      Those are my favorite pictures. πŸ™‚

  • April 13, 2015 Mo at Mocadeaux

    There is something very special about twins. Our 2 1/2 year old twin grandsons are so entertaining! And yes, when they hold hands or make each other giggle – that is the best!

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      Toddler twins! Yay!

  • April 13, 2015 tracy

    I just can’t even. I need to see them.
    tracy recently wrote…Parenting By Improvisation #GoodandHonest #MottsMy Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      We’re right here waiting for you, T. xo

  • April 13, 2015 Natalie

    Girl you are doing an awesome job I’m so amazed, and they seem so happy (from your photos). I’m excited to watch them grow!
    Natalie recently wrote…My Wish for My 4 1/2 Year OldMy Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      They have their grumpy moments, except I don’t photograph them, lol. For the most part, they are happy babies!

  • April 14, 2015 Michelle Frank

    been there, understand and remember that from when my twins were that age. It DOES get easier but, honestly, not till they start school. Mine are 11 and they are so amazingly different it’s been fun to watch. Have fun!

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      I have already braced myself for the next few crazy years!

  • April 14, 2015 Allie

    Being the mother of twins, I whole heartedly agree – it’s hard being a twin. I have four children, too. But my twins were the first babies. I didn’t know any better, and neither did they. Then, when they (and mom) got to see how easy it was with one baby, and how much attention and care that baby got – well we all thought, “no fair!” I cannot imagine how hard it must be to have the twins be #’s 3 and 4. My hat off to you!
    Allie recently wrote…Being Fourteen, Then and NowMy Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      It must have been such a refreshing change for you when you had your third child then! πŸ™‚

  • April 14, 2015 julie gardner

    That first picture is the best thing ever.
    Literally.
    The best.

    Thank you for sharing your sweet babies with us so generously.
    You are honest and real and wonderful.

    No matter what.

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      Thank you for loving them!

  • April 14, 2015 janice

    That picture of your daughter kissing?/holding?/biting? her twin brother is adorable! I love reading your posts about your children. Refreshing and honest. Thanks!!
    janice recently wrote…Blog Anniversary + Lan Ling Wang + GiveawayMy Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      Thank you so much, Janice! (she was licking his face, haha!)

      • April 25, 2015 janice

        Gosh, that just makes the picture 100x cuter! I can’t take it.
        janice recently wrote…Work Week MorningsMy Profile

  • April 14, 2015 alexandra

    What a fantastic post, what a fantastic perspective “It’s harder on the twins.” Love this and love your mothering. I think this would do great on BlogHer or ScaryMommy.
    alexandra recently wrote…In Case You Missed ItMy Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      Twins are fascinating. Being a mother of twins, less so. Because it’s still mothering, isn’t it? One, two, four. It’s still mothering. So I try to look at things from the twins’ perspective.

  • April 14, 2015 Allie

    PREACH ON WOMAN!!!! I was so anxious to read this because I’m always curios about other twins’ mom’s experiences. I have yet to find one who says “It’s really not that hard!” I remember these days with the boys – one always in need while the other’s needs are being met, having that one bicep of steel and endless feedings – and those days were very, very hard on all of us…and I didn’t have other kids! I love that you shared this and I especially love how you ended it because I wouldn’t trade my experiences and love of my boys for anything in the world!
    Allie recently wrote…The Rundown – Making AdjustmentsMy Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      Before my twins, I had no idea either, what mothering twins is like. I could only imagine, having had two singletons, the second being super easy. So I thought I’d share what it’s really like – it’s just a lot of doing, the same things over and over, trying to get through the hours and days – but at the end of the day, just being really, really grateful that there are two. I can’t imagine just one. It’s such a ride, isn’t it?

  • April 14, 2015 Tamara

    I love the hand holding!
    I never really considered how nursing would change as they got older. I guess it’s good that as they get bigger, they don’t need to nurse hourly anymore.
    Or do they???
    Tamara recently wrote…How To Keep Your Cat Happy & Healthy.My Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      Oh goodness, they don’t anymore. Still quite often, but not as frequently. Now they’re 7+ months, they’re on solids twice a day, so even less so! But making and feeding them food takes time too.

  • April 15, 2015 Elaine A.

    I think it’s so cool that you say being a twin is hard. I’ve never thought of it that way! But you’re right in some ways it certainly must be. They are so beautiful and cute, Alison and you have done THE best job with those two hands and the few hours in the day you have. Thank you for sharing this, it really is interesting to me. Although I am in awe, and always will be, of anyone with multiples!

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      Aw, thank you, Elaine! I just do what I have to, and try and do it all with as little complaining and as many smiles, as possible.

  • April 16, 2015 My Inner Chick

    Amazing.
    They love one another abundantly!
    Fabulous photos.
    PS. I hope you can get some sleep one day, darling!! xx
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Jesus & WordsMy Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      They do! Thank you!
      I hope so too. I’m very, very tired, lol.

  • April 16, 2015 Kerstin

    “Sometimes it’s harder to be the babies” – that is perfection. I feel the same way about my kids. There are definitely days when I would not want to have me as a mother. Not in a mean way, but definitely in an eye-rolling-get-over-it kind of way πŸ™‚
    That first picture? OMG the cuteness! <3
    Kerstin recently wrote…Quo Vadis, Kerstin?My Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      Haha! Yes, I get you. Some days I’m pretty sure my kids are like, why can’t my mother be less of whatever mood she’s in? lol

  • When my friend had her twins she joked about making a ‘answer t-shirt’: “yes, they are twin girls” “Yes they are identical” “The birth was by caesarian” etc.
    Perhaps an idea…
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…The Good, the Bad, the Unexpected: I can’t believe my kids ate carrot cakeMy Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      Haha! That’d be hilarious. Maybe I’ll make shirts for the twins instead that say, Yes, I’m a twin. Yes, I’m the girl. πŸ™‚

  • April 16, 2015 Kimberly

    You are a wonderful momma and I hope that you know that xoxo
    Kimberly recently wrote…Sugar WastedMy Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      Aw, thank you, friend. xo

  • April 18, 2015 Roshni

    They’re just so adorable! But, I feel like I can give you some empathy for tackling the one at a time routine while the second wails; that is hard for a parent! πŸ™‚
    Roshni recently wrote…The World between the WiresMy Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      It was hard. Was, I say because I’ve learned to tune it out. As long as the wailing one is not hurt/ bleeding/ stuck somewhere, I know he/ she is just impatient. So I tune it out. Otherwise, I’d go crazy. πŸ™‚

  • April 18, 2015 Christy

    I have zero children, but I often wonder what it would be like to have twins (partly because my husband is one). I love the way you look at it for the perspective of the babies- and I imagine writing from the perspective of your older boys would be a whole other post!
    Christy recently wrote…A Tourist at Home: The Norman Rockwell MuseumMy Profile

    • April 24, 2015 Alison

      Well, you should brace yourself for the high possibility of conceiving twins! πŸ™‚
      What was it like for your husband?
      I often think about what it’s like for my older kids, to have twin siblings. But right now at ages 5 and 3, I think that they don’t think anything of it. To them, they just have two baby siblings, one for each of them πŸ™‚

  • May 5, 2015 Robbie

    That photo is heartmelting. Thanks for keeping it real.
    Robbie recently wrote…Stream of Consciousness: TiredMy Profile

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