Raising Twins

I always hated “Double Trouble”.  I always responded back, “Double Blessing!” After 9 years of married life, several jobs, multiple moves and a second house later we had twin boys.  I will never forget dialing into my work voicemail at the Detroit airport before my flight home to Milwaukee.  This was before cell phones, so bear with me.  I had stopped for a blood draw before flying to Detroit.  It was just a day trip for work.  The doctor’s office had verified that they could leave me a message.  I cannot describe to you the feeling of nervousness when I called in to check if I had a message.  I did and it was, obviously, “Yes, you have a positive!”

Four weeks later we had an ultrasound.  My blood levels were high and they suspected multiples.  My husband was on the road for work.  I will always remember having the number “2” sent to his pager.  His pager went off, he climbed out of the recycling grinder he was repairing and saw “2“.  That was the beginning of our newest adventure.

People asked if we wanted to know what sex they were beforehand.  We did.  As I have mentioned, I am a planner. I am organized.  Why wouldn’t I want to know? I needed to be ready.  I mean, seriously.  How do you decorate or prepare with clothes etc, when there are two babies?  One, yeah, I could see waiting. Two, nope.  So we prepared for our two blessings.  37 weeks, 6#8oz. 7#1oz. later we had two healthy baby boys.

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Raising twins. Let me tell you first off, I don’t know what it is like to raise a single.  I’ve only ever had my multiples.  Two of everything.  I don’t know any different, so I guess that helped? We were prepared with car seats, cribs, etc.  We took shifts when they were newborns.  My husband had paternity leave and we made use of it!  I slept and he watched them, fed them, changed them.  He slept and I did the same.  We were a team.  Life was tiring, but amazing!

Life did not stop because I had twins.  I still went to the grocery store by myself, I just did it with twins.  I still went to doctor visits (for me and the boys) by myself, I just did it with twins.  I went to the zoo with the twins.  I went to the park with the twins. I visited family with the twins.  I flew on planes, I just did it with twins.  Having multiples doesn’t have to mean you stop doing things.  You just prepare better and take more stuff with you.

Don’t let having twins intimidate you.  There are benefits to having twins.  Our twins were the same sex, so they always had a playmate.  Snowbound, no problem, insta-friend to build forts with, play Legos or Apple to Apples.  They thought it was great that they got twice as many toys.  When they went on overnight to friends houses, they went together.  We loved having Date Night!

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Did they have the same friends?  When they were young, yes. As they got older and their interests diverged they had some of the same friends, but they also had friendships with some and just “acquaintances” with others friends.  They were respectful of the fact that they didn’t always share friends.

They are not the same person.  It helped that our twins are fraternal and did not look anything alike, but we also made a point to raise them as individuals.  Josh and Zach. Not “the twins.”

I rarely dressed them alike or even in the same outfit with different colors.  They had some clothes that were similar, but they usually wore those at different times.    Their body type, coloring and personalities were different.  We played to that rather than the “twin” look for dressing them.  Over the years, they developed their own “style”.

Toys, Toys and more Toys.  Be prepared. Your house can become an avalanche of toys if you let it.  We took the middle ground.  They rarely got the same toy. They almost always had to share. They were allowed some items that were “Zach” or “Josh” toys, but we limited those to what fit into one drawer or cubbie.  On the big-ticket items, it was always one that was shared.  One Little Tykes car, one swing, one Wii, one computer, one game. They learned to take turns or they learned to save their money and buy their own.

What about school?  From Pre-K on, our sons were in different classrooms.  It wasn’t something they asked for or that they didn’t want either.  We spoke with several people who had twins at the time.  It was a pretty even split on together vs. apart.  We went with apart, to allow them to develop friendships and personalities separate from their twin.   We wanted them to be their own individual and not dependent on the other.  We explained that they would be in different classes, but together at recess, lunch and at the end of the day.  We told them to think of all the things they could talk about.  We watched and waited.  They survived and then thrived.  They fought less at home, they helped each other out with class work.  They still slept in the same room.  Ate at the same dinner table.  They were just apart for a little bit.

This pattern stayed the same until middle school.  In middle school, they had some of the same teachers, but never at the same time.  There were also times when they had different teachers for the same subject.  This worked out great as they bounced off each other what they learned and how they learned.  By the time they were in high school they had only a few classes together.

It was always funny to see faces of people when they realized that Zach and Josh were not just friends but siblings and then to realize they were actually twins was a hoot!  You wouldn’t believe how many, “but you don’t look-alike” our boys received.  They even had one friend when discussing college applications say, “I can see how Zach can check Hispanic, but how can you, Josh?”.  Um, it’s called biology.  Same parents, duh?

Driving.  Ok, this is the one area where having twins tested my sanity. Think of the 40 hours of outside driving that is required during the 8 weeks of drivers ed. Now try to get that time in with two at once! My recommendation? Do it during summer or winter sessions when they will have blocks of time when they aren’t in school or do it separately. Otherwise, there just isn’t the time to get it all done, especially if your husband travels or you are a single parent or you work. You really have to put a lot of thought and discussion in beforehand.

Another suggestion, and this is for all parents not just ones with twins, invest in the $5 Student Driver magnets from Amazon.com.  Get three, one for the back and one for each side of your car.  These worked amazing when the boys first started to drive.  People around you were more patient and understanding when they saw those signs on the car.  Not always, but most of the time.

What about cars? That was easy. We couldn’t afford a car for both boys.  We wouldn’t have been able to afford a car for one, but we got lucky and were able to buy my husband’s company car for $1500 about six months before they started to drive. It was a Jeep Grand Cherokee and had 175,000 miles on it, but it was in great shape, was perfect for our PNW weather, and the trunk fit our sons bari sax!

They had to learn to share rides and coordinate schedules for that first year.  It usually worked that Zach drove to school since he had jazz band at 7am and I dropped off Josh on my way to work. They rode home together most of the time.  Or one walked and the other drove depending on weather and what they had going on. They were responsible for working that out.

Their senior year we were able to purchase a new car for me and the boys got to decide who drove the Jeep and who drove the minivan.  Surprisingly, there wasn’t even an argument on that.  Isn’t that cool?

Cars. You will really need to think ahead when this is your life as twin parents. That Jeep? It still runs and they use it when they come home for breaks. The minivan? Grandma needed a new car and since neither of our sons needed one at college, they elected to give her the minivan.  How sweet are they?

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What about college? When it came to choosing a college, it was a long and lengthy process. It was especially crazy doing it with two kids at once. In the end they chose the college best for them, individually. There were better deals, financially, but they chose for themselves.

It is strange to think of them 2700 miles apart, but with text, social media and Skype (and more recently according to them, Discord) they talk to each other more than they talk to us. They still have a connection. Their interests have continued to diverge in some areas, but stayed the same in others. They still help each other with homework. They support each other and they grow. It will be interesting to see where life takes them!

My most important advice to you?  If you can do it, even as young as three, give your twins individual time with you. We received this same advice and it was invaluable.   With twins, there is so much they must share, even if it isn’t because of financial reasons. Give them the gift of that special time, acknowledging that they are loved for themselves and not just as a set. My husband and I would do this at least once every few months. We would switch them too. It wasn’t always at the same time either.  They knew that we would randomly ask one to do something while the other stayed home.  I’d like to think this helped them to be more confident and happy in themselves.

I guess this is important for every parent to do with a child and not just when you have twins. Every child should feel important and loved. Accepted for who they are.  In the end, we all want to feel that way I guess, right?

img_4344-1Love your children. For they aren’t children forever.

 

4 thoughts on “Raising Twins

  1. Discovering Whimsy says:

    Love your advice, can be applied to those of us without twins too. I love the part about trying to give each child special time with you. Really, no fights over who had to drive the minivan😆. Enjoy hearing about your journey! Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

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