Having a baby changes your life. Having more than one baby can lead you to feel as if your life has been turned upside down and inside out! Here are five tips for new parents with multiples:
1.) Re-think your idea of “clean” Before having twins, I could clean my entire three bedroom two bath home in eight hours or less. I could be ready for company quickly and easily. After having twins, I felt frustrated that I could no longer have my house clean (the way I wanted it to be) in less than a day. I also had to re-think what “clean” meant to me. Did I want to run myself ragged? My twins didn’t sleep much until they were five months old. Did I want to waste a precious potential hour’s sleep by cleaning? Or ought I rest instead? (Hint: choose rest!). As long as the home is sanitary, sleep and rest are more important. When we are sleep deprived, we can feel more easily frustrated, irritated and have less patience. When we welcome our children into our lives, we want to give them the very best. Giving them well rested parents who are patient, kind and loving trumps a spotless home any day.
What is support? It means having family, friends, or professional assistance so you can connect with other people who love and care about you and your family. It means support so that you could arrange a run to the grocery store by yourself, (if you enjoy that),or being able to have an appointment for yourself without having to have your multiples with you. Of course we love our children, and at the same time, we also need others to talk with and lend us a helping hand from time to time. What if you need to see your doctor? It can be quite challenging managing your own appointment while you have your infant multiples with you (will your multiple stroller even fit in the tiny examining room?) It’s important to have a list of folks you feel comfortable calling so that you and your spouse can have a regular date night. Some families swap babysitting with each other, i.e. I’ll watch your kids this Friday so you can go out, and you’ll watch mine on Saturday so I can go out. A local multiples club is also a great support. In Orlando, we have The Greater Orlando Mothers of Twins and Triplets Club (GOMOTT), www.GOMOTT.org There is a national organization for parents of multiples also called the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Club, www.nomotc.org. If there is no multiples club is in your area, you could either start one or connect to others through internet based meetings.
3.) Date Night
After you have children, it’s easy to switch the focus from your spouse to your children. Dads especially can be prone to feeling shoved aside when children arrive. It’s important to continue to put your marriage first. Working on your marriage, regularly, is invaluable. Regular date nights are important. They don’t have to be expensive – it’s not about what you spend. It’s about taking the time to talk together and reconnect with each other. A weekly date night would be ideal, even if it’s just a long walk around your block.
4.) Let go of your “should’s”
As a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, I spend much time with my clients examining their self-talk. We frequently tell ourselves “I should…” and then a list follows. Just as I had to re-think my personal definition of “clean,”, I also had to re-think how many things I could accomplish in a day. With multiples, I went from being able to accomplish quite a bit in a day to just a few things each day, in addition to taking care of my family. When I feel tempted to pile on more than I can possibly do, then feel bad about not getting everything accomplished, I remind myself that my children are only little for a short while. When they are teens, I’ll have plenty of time to run my errands the way I prefer to do them. For now, I’ll focus on being present with my family, and enjoy the blessings of each day. I don’t want to waste my precious energy worrying about what I “should” do.
5.) Take good care of yourself
You work hard to teach your children their ABC’s, to eat healthy foods, to count, to use the potty on their own, and so much more. When you don’t rest, don’t eat, don’t sit down, and so on, you are teaching your children how to care for themselves (or how to not care for themselves.) When you go-go-go, remember that your children are watching you run yourself down. They are learning that this is normal and expected of them. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is teaching them how to care for themselves, by taking care of you. Setting a positive and healthy model of someone who believes she is important enough to get the sleep she needs, important enough to take the time to consume nourishing food, important enough to take time to get some exercise, all work together to set up a positive model of health and confidence for our children to follow.
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About the Author:
Laura Peddie-Bravo, LMHC, NCC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Nationally Certified Counselor practicing in Winter Park, Florida. She is the Mother of Boy/Girl Twins and “Twingle.” Laura works with a variety of issues such as Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Domestic Violence, PTSD, Personality Disorders, Eating Disorders, Autistic Spectrum Disorders, and Chronic Medical Issues. Laura provides Individual, Couples and Family Counseling. To schedule a free consultation, please call The Bravo Counseling Group at 407-222-6239.