Common advice for twin moms is to get help, but what do you do when you don’t have family and friends nearby? Here’s how to take care of twins alone.
Nearly every twin mom is unanimous when it comes to the number one advice they’d give: Get help from others. But what if you don’t have that network or “village” to rely on? Your family and friends may be miles away or your partner needs to go back to work right away.
And you’ll likely need to care for two newborn babies… all by yourself.
How to take care of twins alone
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I was pretty lucky: Both my family and my in-laws live in the same city, so we had plenty help during those early weeks and months. But SSBE reader Heather emailed me about what to do in the opposite situation. She wrote:
“My biggest concern is not having much help. Everything I read talks about all these other people (mom, sister, aunt, grandmother) that helped so much, but I don’t have the extended family that can help everyday like that. My fiancé will be going back to work after one week of their birth, and he works 12 hour shifts.”
I wanted to give Heather the right kind of advice she needed, so I turned to other twin parents who knew what it felt like to care for twins alone. And this is what they said:
#1: Join a multiples group
While you may not have family and friends in the area, you can begin to nurture relationships with others nearby who can likely help. A multiples group is one example. They include other expecting moms or those further along who can offer advice, moral support and even used gear and help when you need it.
If you don’t have a multiples group, see if you can find a regular moms group to join. While they don’t know what it’s like to carry or care for twins, they can be a great source of friendship and resources.
And see if your moms group can rotate bringing meals to anyone who has just given birth (they’re called “meal trains”). You’d create an ongoing list and take turns preparing meals so new moms always have something to eat during those hectic early weeks.
If you can’t find any local groups, join online ones for moral support and advice. I created a Facebook group All About Twins for this reason (those who buy my Expecting Twins Guide get a membership as a free bonus! Check out the Expecting Twins Guide here).
Even if you don’t connect face to face, online groups can be your place to go to post a question or vent about things many people may not understand.
#2: Ask family members to come for extended visits
See if your family members can come and stay for an extended period of time. Even if your family and friends don’t live nearby, you might have family elsewhere who can stay for a while. This can be your parents, grandparents, friends, siblings and anyone who’d like to visit with the intent of helping you out.
I know many parents who have done this, both with twins and singletons. My own mom, even though she lives just a few miles away, stayed for several weeks, especially when my husband had to go back to work.
Extended visitors are actually more useful than weekend visitors because they’ll come to know your twins and your routine. You won’t have to explain where to find diapers or which twin likes the pacifier. Your live-in family or friend will know it almost as well as you do.
#3: Get twin gear that makes life easier
I love Mia’s story. As a new twin mom, she wished she had an extra pair of arms to carry one twin while she held the other. While she couldn’t grow a new pair of arms, she did the next best thing: she created her own product to replicate that feeling.
Mia is a friend and the founder of Snuggle Me Organic, an infant cushion born out of her frustration at caring for her twins alone. Her pillow uses the weight of the baby to create the same sensation of being held in someone’s arms. Brilliant!
You can also look into getting a swing. This was my go-to gear when I needed to put one baby somewhere while I held the other.
A baby wrap or carrier like the Moby Wrap I used is also another item to free up your arms for at least one baby.
And finally, other moms also swear by the Twin Z pillow which allows you to nurse or bottle feed the babies at the same time.
As a twin parent, you have absolute permission to get whatever is necessary to make your life easier, especially if you’re doing this alone. While I had help for the most part, there were many days when I was alone with the twins all day until my husband came home. I couldn’t be shy about using gear that could save my sanity and make our days go much easier.
#4: Regularly call your family and friends
Even if you have no family or friends nearby, do the next best thing and call them on a regular basis. It seems silly, but make a list of people you can call and check them off each time you need to talk to someone.
For those you feel comfortable with, ask if you can call them at any hour of the day. Sometimes you have a question about getting your baby to sleep at 2am, or are about to break down and cry at dinner time. Not all people may be available at any hour, but it’s good to know you have that just in case.
And sometimes you just need that moral support to let you know you’re doing a great job! Just because it took you forever to put the twins to nap doesn’t mean you’re a terrible mom. Often, it’s just the support and encouragement we need to remind us how well we’re doing.
#5: Prepare freezer food now
Many twin moms who’ve had to go at it alone said that getting something to eat was one of the most time-consuming tasks they had. Not to mention expensive, if the only other route is to eat take out or delivery meals.
That’s why they all said preparing freezer food now is a must. You’ll always have dinner on hand and won’t have to worry about what to eat for you or your family.
If you’ve ever felt intimidated by preparing freezer food, I don’t blame you. You might not know what recipes actually freeze well (because not all recipes do!), what containers to put them in, or how long they last. Or you’re scared the whole process will take up too much time and space in your kitchen.
If so, you’ll definitely want to check out Erin Chase’s MyFreezEasy meal plans. She breaks down exactly the kinds of recipes that lend themselves well to freezing. She also gives you recipes that are inexpensive and don’t take up too much time to prepare.
Another option to freezer meals are crock pot recipes. You’ll still need to go to the grocery to buy ingredients, but you can toss many crock pot recipes together and eat several hours later. No need to stand over the stove to make your meals.
#6: Outsource help
If you have the budget, hiring a nanny, night nurse, babysitter, a cleaning service or even a mother’s helper can make a huge difference. Let’s break those down further:
A nanny usually works full or part time hours during the day and can help care for the twins. You won’t have to go it alone with someone right there by your side. And you’ll want to hire a nanny who has had experience caring for twins in the past.
A night nurse is like a nanny but comes to your house in the evenings and throughout the night. Her job is to care for the twins so you can get as much sleep and rest as possible. Even if you still need to wake up to nurse, she can help burp and hold the babies and soothe them when they’re fussy.
A babysitter can also offer once-in-a-while relief and help when you need it. Sometimes all you need is a night out with your partner or an afternoon to yourself. Hiring an experienced babysitter (one who has cared for twins alone) can be all you need.
A mother’s helper usually comes to your home for a few hours a day to do light work or babysitting. She might be your neighbor’s teenager daughter or a local college student. She could help by playing with your older child, tidying up in the kitchen, or helping to feed and hold the babies.
And finally, a cleaning service can take a lot of the housework off your shoulders so you can focus on the twins or catch the rest you need. Even if you don’t normally hire a cleaning service, you might consider budgeting for a few sessions during the early months with the twins at home.
#7: Get to know your neighbors
I’m such an introverted person that I still don’t know the names of some of my neighbors. But for anyone who has to go it alone with two babies, getting to know your neighbors can be so helpful.
One time, I was semi-freaking out as a first-time mom when my then-infant son was having issues with bowel movements. I knocked on our neighbors’ doors asking if they had prune juice. No one did, but one family was so kind that they drove to our local grocery store and bought one for me.
So while neighbors may not come over to babysit your twins, they can be so helpful for little things like buying or lending items you need.
If you’re shy (like I am), remind yourself that most people actually enjoy helping others. You might be surprised at the kindness you’ll find from your neighbors.
Getting out of the house with twins is no easy feat. You’ve got the diaper bag, the double stroller, and all their little gadgets to keep them happy. They can fuss at any time, leaving you frantic or even self-conscious as you try to soothe your crying babies.
But getting out of the house will help you so much more than staying home all day. Even if it seems easier to stay in, it’ll do you good to break up your day to have something to do.
I stayed indoors the first month with the twins, leaving only for doctor’s appointments. Those early weeks were pure survival mode, and I needed to focus on rest and keeping my babies indoors.
But after those initial weeks, it felt so much better to be out of the house, even for just a walk around the block. It also gave me something to do when the twins were fussy (often they’d stop fussing the minute we were outside).
#9: Work as a team
Having a baby can cause friction for any marriage or partnership, now imagine two babies! Always remember to work as a team, no matter how different your partner’s strategies may be. You can even discuss them now before the twins arrive so you have a better understanding of what to do when the time comes.
After all, you both likely have the same intentions and goals. And finally, always talk things through. Schedule regular daily chats if need be, but don’t keep things inside. Your partner can’t read your mind. Otherwise you’ll end up sighing and festering, hoping he picks up your clues only to explode in the end.
Communicate both the good and the bad. Be each other’s cheerleaders when you need it, and be open and honest about any thoughts you may have. You’re a team for a reason!
#10: Prepare ahead of time
When you’re alone, you won’t have the convenience of hollering to someone to please fetch the diaper cream or pacifier. Think ahead of what you might need within the next few moments. If you’re giving the twins a bath, lay out all their pajamas and diapers ahead of time so you don’t have to scramble as you leave the bathroom.
Or if you’re bottle-feeding after a nap, lay out your twin pillow, prepare the formulas and grab the burp cloth long before you even set them down.
Over time, you’ll develop your own routine. You’ll know exactly what items you need and which events follow one another. Develop these routines so you can run on autopilot.
Phew! We covered a lot. But hopefully you can see how doable taking care of twins alone can be. It’s not picture perfect, and you’ll find yourself near tears or scrambling throughout the day. But you’ll also be doing a fantastic job, one not many people can truly understand.
And a big part of that is simply getting it done—we have no choice but to. Our biggest obstacles often push us to be our strongest and most confident. Twin moms who’ve had to care for their babies alone have admitted that simply doing it is one of the best ways to feel confident.
As hard as it will be, you now have the resources to at least make it a whole lot easier. I wish every twin mom had a village to rely on, but as you can see, you’ll also do fine, with or without one!
These are the resources I mentioned above:
- The Expecting Twins Guide: My ebook to help you prepare and care for newborn twins
- MyFreezEasy: The ultimate resource for preparing and freezing meals
- Snuggle Me Organic: An infant cushion that mimics the feel of being held in someone’s arms
- Twin Z pillow: Perfect for nursing or feeding your twins at the same time
Tell me in the comments: What is the hardest part about caring for twins alone? What’s your best tip for surviving those early months without a village?
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