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 she’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.
Or fast forward a few months later when all the visitors have trickled away and your partner’s leave has finally ended. At some point, you’ll face the time when you’ll need to care for two babies, all by yourself. Easy enough when others are around to help, but not so much when you’re all alone.
How to take care of twins alone
I was pretty lucky: Both my family and in-laws live in the same city, so we had plenty of help during those early weeks and months. But fellow twin mom 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.”
While I knew the challenges of caring for twins alone, I didn’t experience it so soon after giving birth. 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 from the start. And this is what they said:
1. Get gear that makes life with newborn twins easier
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As a new twin mom, you’ll wish you had an extra pair of arms to carry one twin while you hold the other. While you can’t grow a new pair of arms, do the next best thing: replicate that feeling.
You might find solutions in infant cushions like the Snuggle Me Organic. The pillow uses the weight of the baby to create the same sensation of being held in someone’s arms.
You can also look into getting a swing. This was my go-to gear when I needed to put one baby down while I held the other.
A baby wrap or carrier is yet another item to free up your arms for at least one baby.
And finally, twin moms swear by the Twin Z pillow (or even two infant seats next to each other), which allows you to nurse or bottle feed the babies at the same time.
As a twin parent, you have permission to get any baby gear that will make life easier, especially if you’re learning how to take care of twins 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 my days go much easier.
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2. 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 help like a multiples group. You’ll meet other expecting moms or those further along who can offer advice, moral support, and even hand-me-down gear and help when you need it.
If you don’t have a multiples group nearby, 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 given birth (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.
Another option is to befriend other parents with babies or about to deliver babies the same age as your twins in childbirth classes. Even if they’re not twin parents, they can provide immense support and friendship throughout the years.
If you can’t find any local groups, join online ones for moral support and advice. Even if you don’t connect face to face, you can post a question or vent about topics non-twin moms may not understand.
3. 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 longer than usual.
I know many parents who have done this, both with twins and singletons. My own mom, even though she lives a few miles away, stayed for several weeks, especially when my husband had to go back to work.
Extended visitors are more helpful 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.
4. Regularly call your family and friends
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 they’re available for you.
And sometimes you 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 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 task they had. Not to mention expensive, if the only alternative 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 feed yourself or your family.
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 recipes together and know it’ll be ready several hours later. No need to stand over the stove to make your meals!
6. Outsource help
If you have the budget, hiring help can make a huge difference.
A nanny usually works full or part time hours during the day and can help care for the twins. You won’t have to figure out how to take care of twins 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. Here are some tips about hiring a nanny.
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 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 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.
And finally, 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 teenage daughter or a local college student. She could help by playing with your older child, tidying up in the kitchen, or feeding and holding the babies.
7. Get to know your neighbors
I’m such an introvert that I didn’t really know the names 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 the twins, they can be helpful for little things like buying or lending items you need.
If you’re shy (like I am), remind yourself that most people enjoy helping others. You might be surprised at the kindness you’ll find from your neighbors.
8. Get out of the house often
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 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 a walk around the block. It also gave me something to do when the twins were fussy (they’d often 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! 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. 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 rolling your eyes, hoping he picks up your clues, only to burst 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 few people can truly understand.
And a big part of that is 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 doing it is one of the best ways to feel confident.
As hard as it will be, you now have the resources to 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.
Get more tips:
- So You’re Having Twins. Now Here’s What to Do:
- Finding it Hard to Raise Twins? You’re Not Alone.
- Are You Freaking Out about Having Twins?
- Raising Twins When You Already Have an Older Child
- Secrets to Surviving Twins in the Newborn Months
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