You're having twins -- what a joy! Those tiny fingers and little coos will make you want to be the perfect parent. That's why you need to try to stay at your best. After a few days of being pulled away from what you're doing every other hour -- whether you were showering, sleeping, or cooking -- perfection is hard for anyone to pull off. It's time to get help!
Having the support of family and friends can make the first few weeks with your newborns a lot less overwhelming. Even if you don't think you'll need them, have some potential helpers on standby, just in case.
How Friends and Family Can Help
When people hear that you're having twins, many will say, "Just let us know if we can help with anything." Take them up on their offers! You will feel more at ease if you specifically give them one or two tasks they can help you with.
- NICU support. Twins are more likely to be born premature and more likely to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of the hospital. If your twins need to stay in the NICU after you're discharged, friends can run you back and forth or stop by your house to feed pets if you're spending a lot of time at the hospital.
- Sleepovers. Sometimes it can be hard to manage feeding two demanding babies at once. Until you get the hang of tandem nursing, or double bottle-feeding, it can be helpful to have volunteers take on the second feeding if your partner isn't home and both babies are squalling at once. You may be a little more sleep-deprived than the average new mom, too. So ask your best friend or your mom ahead of time if they'd be willing to spend the night occasionally to help with feedings.
- Make meals or bring in carry-out. If you have friends who are quick in the kitchen, or who are used to cooking for a large family, ask if they can help out by bringing dinner. Give them a sense of how often you'll need their help, like on the first night after your babies are born, or every time your spouse works late. Maybe friend-supplied dinners will do the trick for the first month. Talk it over so you'll both know what you're agreeing to.
- Light housecleaning. Some friends and family who pop by to see the babies may not mind picking up the clutter in the living room, sponging down the kitchen counters, or throwing a load of laundry in the wash. Add it to your list of tasks you'd appreciate some help with -- you might be surprised who takes you up on it.
- Transportation. There may be times when your partner isn't around and you're not feeling up to managing your twins and driving. For times like these, line up a friend or family member who is willing to take you and your babies to your pediatric appointments.
- Errands. Do you really want to run around town with two newborns, picking up groceries, baby supplies, and prescriptions? Of course not! Instead, ask someone to run these errands for you.
- Care for pets. Walk your dog. Feed your fish. Take your cat to the vet. A helpful friend or family member can take on most pet-care tasks.
When your friends come by for their tasks, just smile and say thank you. It's not unusual for women to get cold feet and turn the help away that you've arranged. Relax. Wouldn't you help your friend out in the same way?
Be flexible -- not paranoid -- if your friend needs to change the time or updates you on their plans. They're probably not trying to get out of helping you as you may fear -- just coordinating their life.
Share Your Babies, But Not Too Much
Some people may think they are helping you by holding your babies so you can cook, clean, or work around the house. Of course, sometimes you may want someone to hold at least one of the babies so you can attend to the other baby, take a shower, or get a good nap. But most moms want to maximize their own time spent with their new babies.
Consider setting time limits for how long someone can hold your babies. Or if you're feeling really gracious and energetic, you might offer to alternate doing tasks and caring for the babies.
Finding More Support
If you're a new mom, you'll probably want support from other moms in the same boat -- and maybe some moms with babies and toddlers just a bit older. How do you find them?
- Check out mom organizations. Most communities have a variety of moms' groups including groups specifically for moms of multiples. Look at your church, temple, day care center, or pediatrician's office for flyers or suggestions.
- Search online. Many parenting message boards have sections for moms in specific cities or areas to share local info. And often these groups will plan face-to-face meet-ups. Just be sure to arrange meetings in public places at first, to confirm that your online buddies are really who they say they are!
- Sign up for baby activities. Taking your little ones to the Little Gym or Mommy & Me is fun for them. But it can be alifesaver for you! Other moms there will all have babies around the same age. And they're probably dealing with most of the same issues you are. So strike up a conversation!
- Go to the park or to the library’s story time. Then fearlessly talk with another parent.
- Try a new moms' exercise class. It's double the benefits -- improved fitness and a new friend. Look online or check with your local YMCA, Oh Baby! Fitness or with Stroller Strides, which offers fitness programsfor moms and their babies.