Parenting Strategies for Parents of Twins

Guidelines for Raising Multiples

parents with twins on front sidewalk
Parenting Strategies for Parents of Twins. Stephen Simpson / Getty Images

In the midst of struggling to keep two babies fed, clean, and happy, new parents of twins may not be thinking about a big picture parenting strategy. The early days of parenting twins are devoted to basic survival. But as the exhausting days and long sleepless nights turn into weeks and months, there are some basic guidelines that parents of twins can keep in mind as they raise their children. While they may not apply literally in every way to every day, these fundamental tenets can shape an approach to raising twins and may help parents frame their decisions as they encounter parenting choices.


It’s Not the Same as Two Singletons

One of the things that drives parents of twins nuts is when parents of singletons compare their close-in-age children to having twins. It’s not. Our opposition to this claim is not prompted by a desire to “win” at parenting. Parenting twins is not necessarily harder -- nor easier -- than any other kind of parenting. It is just simply different. 

Thus parents of twins may find that they approach things just a little bit differently. The logistics of parenting two same-age siblings may require some shortcuts. It also requires parents to maintain a delicate balance between encouraging their children as individuals, and encouraging them to celebrate their twinship. 

Plan for Two

Do you need two of everything for twins? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. I am not suggesting that that you should buy two of everything. As a parent of twins, you will quickly learn the efficiencies of managing twin stuff.

As you outfitted your home with baby equipment, you realized what could be shared, when twins can take turns, and what was necessary to duplicate. But in the big picture, always plan for double with twins. There are few bargains in raising twins; the idea of "BOGO" (buy one, get one) is effective as a marketing tool, but it rarely applies to life.

When in doubt, buy two. Trying to get twins to share can be more of a hassle than its worth. Seek out products and services that accommodate twins. Buying a swingset? Make sure there are two swings (preferably two that are exactly alike). Giving a gift? Get one for each twin. Whenever you suspect that something will be in demand, make sure there is enough to go around: the blue Disney sippy cup, the stuffed animal, the video game controller. 

Equality Doesn’t Exist

When parenting twins, it’s natural to try and keep things equal. Our inherent sense of fairness -- and our attempts to be efficient -- mean that we often take a “one size fits all” approach to parenting. Feed one baby? Feed the other. Keep them on the same schedule. Make sure that we spend equal time with each child, read the same number of books, give the same number of good night kisses. But trying to keep up the facade of fairness becomes an exhausting effort. For parents of twins, it becomes a OCD-level struggle. You find yourself counting out the Cheerios and chicken nuggets to make sure they each get the same portion.

You endlessly track turns ... whose turn is it to push the elevator button, get in the car first, choose the movie. 

Don’t be a slave to equality. Let your twins be individuals, and claim the freedom to differentiate. Because no matter how much you strive to keep things equal, eventually circumstances will throw it off balance. Maybe one twin is invited to a birthday party, and the other is not. Perhaps one twin makes a sports team and the other gets cut. Life is not fair, and you can not maintain perfect fairness for your twins. 

All You Need is Love 

Parenting requires sacrifice, and parenting twins is no exception. When raising children, parents give up their time, money, sleep, and plenty of personal goals in devotion to their offspring. In the midst of loving your twins, don’t forget to love yourself. Take care of yourself with the same fervency with which you care for your children. Make sure you get what you need. Pamper yourself. Forgive yourself. Make yourself a priority from time to time; it will make you a more effective parent. 

Parenting is definitely easier with a partner, and if you have one, don’t forget to make them a priority as well. Remember that it was your love for each other that started your familly. Make time for each other, in whatever form that works. Schedule date nights, kiss each other good night, remind each other that you’re a team. 

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