In Light of Twins Days which takes place over the first full weekend in August, this year being August 7-9, and as a mom of multiple multiples, I thought I would share some of the organizational things I do to keep our household – which consists of two sets of twins, plus one crazy singleton, all under the age of six – running smoothly. But first…
NO, neither of our sets of twins are identical. YES, we used assisted reproductive technology. NO, they don’t seem to have a special twin language (maybe identical twins do?). YES, we can tell them all apart. NO, twins don’t technically run in our family (there is a set a few generations back). YES, we have our hands full.
Now that I’ve answered all of the frequent, burning questions, here are the top five things that make our day to day, as a family with two sets of twins, a little easier:
- In this house, we are quite strict about the schedule, and everyone is on the same schedule from the six-month-old twins to the almost six-year-old twins. This is clutch. Waking, snacking, meals, napping, and sleeping all happen at the same time each day, for everyone, with only about 30 minutes of leeway. This prevents me from feeding kids around the clock, and also generally guarantees some much-needed downtime for the adults at the end of each day.
- Go Bag. I learned early on that getting out of the house with a child, or in my case, two children turned five children, is a huge production. One way to cut down on the time it takes to get out of the door is to keep a “Go Bag” packed at all times. I’ve long since traded in my designer diaper bag for a durable duffle bag of sorts that houses everything from a change of underwear and pants for the big kids, to a small helping of diapers and wipes for the babies, nonperishable snacks, pacifiers and teething toys, coloring books and crayons.
- No Devices. WHAT?! I know. I know. I promise I’m not sitting on any high horse judging those who occasionally, or frequently, lean on iPad’s and the like to entertain kids. And yes, I’m sure there are educational benefits, as well. Here’s the thing though I don’t have to spend a single second of my day negotiating screen time with anyone, and I love it. No brainpower is used to decide how much is too much, who gets to earn it, and how. There’s no keeping track of chargers and battery life, no monitoring content, no making sure it’s accounted for every time we head out the door, and no annoying YouTube songs to drive me mad. Sounds nice, right? Devices are not on our radar. I’m not sure how long we’ll get to keep this up, but we’re going to hold on as long as possible.
- Contain the Chaos. I can physically feel my stress level escalate when my personal space is not tidy. It makes me feel like things are out of control. On most days (keyword: “most”) one could walk into my home and would find the main floor living space to be neat and organized. In fact, it largely appears like there are no children presently inhabiting the home. Go to our basement, or out to our garage, and you’ll find a very different scene. I have relinquished control over those two spaces. With two sets of twins, plus one, it can’t all be perfect all of the time. Those messy areas we, as a family, clean up from time to time. The main floor of our home (along with our bedroom, and the kid’s bedrooms) remains free from clutter and mess so we have more space to live, rest and enjoy our time together.
- Let Them Play. I take a very hands-off approach when it comes to playtime. Unless it appears that whatever is transpiring is headed for injury to one party or another, I remain nearby but allow them to carry on as they wish. Small disagreements are monitored with a close ear, but I don’t interject. I’m no behavioral expert, but what I seem to have found is that my kids are quickly developing big imaginations by having to come up with their own ways to entertain themselves. They’re also learning how to navigate minor disagreements with their siblings without me spoon-feeding a resolution every time. Don’t get me wrong, I still have to referee many situations, but lots of times they are able to move forward without me, and that makes me very proud – particularly when I overhear unprompted sharing and forgiveness.
Life with two sets of twins and a very spirited three year old can be tiring and trying. On any given day I’m clocking upwards of 10,000 steps without any formal workout. But, a funny thing happens when you’ve been faced with the reality that all of this – our children – almost wasn’t. Gratitude. More gratitude than I could ever properly put into words. Embrace the chaos. Plan ahead. Keep control of the day. Oh, and don’t forget to prioritize yourself, too. You can’t keep the ship afloat if the captain is drowning!
Photo: Rachel Vanoven