Preparing for twins is one thing, but preparing for twins with a toddler at home is a whole other story. Even though twins are born together, their needs will vary–not to mention that your toddlers are entirely different, too. So…yes, it’s expected that being in charge of 3 tiny humans is freaking you out a little.
Although it’s not an easy task, trust us: you will enjoy twins after singleton, and you are capable of doing it all. We’ve gathered some tips that can help make planning for twins while having a singleton much smoother.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting Twins
Involve Your Toddler From the Start
Even before having your twins, there are some things you can do to prep your toddler for the arrival of their new siblings.
Teach them to wait
It’s no question your toddler is going to have to learn to be more patient when your twins arrive. However, you can make it easier on them by starting to teach them how to do it before that.
For instance, when they ask for something, you can teach them to wait a little longer, progressively. That way, they’ll start getting used to being more patient, and it will get them used to when life with twins makes you busier, and you won’t be able to immediately give them what they need.
Teach them to be gentle
Toddlers usually don’t know how to determine the situations in which they need to be more careful with their movements. That’s why it’s important to start showing them why they have to be incredibly gentle with babies–explain that they’re tiny and not as strong as them, and point out specific areas that need extra caution, like the head or eyes.
Practicing with a doll is a great way to help them understand. Ask them to hold it, stroke it gently, and be enthusiastic–tell them they’ll soon get to do it with their siblings!
Give them a preview
Another way of introducing twins to a toddler is by showing them pictures of when they were a baby. Tell them they once, too, were that small and needed their parents to do everything.
You can even tell them stories about funny or adorable things they used to do, but also that they used to cry a lot more, for example, or need to feed and sleep many times throughout the day. This will give them an idea of what having newborn babies is like and won’t come as such a shock.
Plan for sibling playtime
Getting your toddler excited about meeting his siblings is key, but knowing that they’ll get to play with them will get them twice as excited! You can ask them what activities they’re looking forward to doing with them and gently explain that they won’t be able to do many things at first.
However, you can make a plan for the future and even turn it into a cool art project by drawing it on a poster with your child. You also need to help them think of activities they can do with their siblings once they arrive, like holding their hand, singing to them, or making them laugh with funny faces or dances. You can even help your toddler pick a gift for the twins, such as these Angel Dear Cuddle Twin Blankies.
This is also an excellent time to introduce the concept of sharing. Since they’re not used to having someone else at home to share their toys with, they start explaining that sharing makes playing with others possible and fun. Also, remember to praise them when they show any sign of sharing something with anyone–whether that be other kids or even adults–and praise other people’s sharing-related behaviors in front of them.
Introduce them to independent playtime
Independent playtime will be as important, if not more, than sibling playtime. Learning to explore independently is crucial for toddlers, whether or not they have siblings. It allows them to develop their creativity and teaches them how to make mistakes and decisions. So when preparing for twins with a toddler, you can start encouraging them to play independently for small amounts of time.
You can also introduce them to quiet playtime. All those times when the twins are sleeping, your toddler will have to learn to be more quiet than usual. So together, come up with some activities they can do while they nap. Explain to them why babies need to sleep so much, for example: “When you were a baby, you needed to sleep a lot so you could grow strong.” This will make it easier for them to be patient when it’s their siblings’ turn.
Let them be mommy’s helper
One of the best ways to involve your toddler after having twins and prevent them from feeling left out is by asking them to give you a hand. Instead, it can make them feel like they’re your special helper and a part of their siblings’ well-being.
You can ask them to hand you the baby wipes, push the stroller, or help you pick out their outfits (check out these adorable Twin Onesies!)
Start Considering Asking for Help
First things first: asking for help is nothing to feel guilty about! Like everything in life, it’s important to acknowledge when we need it. And raising twins can require some external help.
So if you’re financially able to, hiring help is a great way to take some of the weight off you and your partner’s shoulders. This will look different for every family–it may be a long-term helper who becomes a part of the household or someone who comes in a couple of days a week. It may also look like asking a family member if they’re available to watch your children for a couple of hours while you go out to dinner.
It depends on your budget and lifestyle, but the most important thing is that, as far as possible, you take it easy on yourself and ask for help when you need it.
Prioritize One-On-One Time
Spending time alone with your first child is as important as after your twins are born.
Before they arrive, you want things to feel as normal as possible, even while preparing your toddler for it. So make sure they know how special they are to you and how much you love being with them.
Although your time will be pretty limited after they’re born, ensure you’re still maintaining that “normal” one-on-one time with your toddler. It doesn’t have to be anything significant–it’s about focusing on the little things you can do daily to make them feel as unique as always.
Focus on the Little Things
This may seem obvious, but as a mom, you probably need to be reminded of it once in a while: take care of yourself.
Even in the chaos, find time to relax and wind down (this self-care kit is amazing). The key is to take baby steps–no pun intended–and focus on the little things you can do for yourself daily. That may look like taking a relaxing bath or shower, having a cup of warm tea at breakfast or before bed (these are delicious!), or even asking for help and resting when needed.
Preparing for Twins with a Toddler: Is There an Ultimate Checklist?
If you ask us, nothing about parenthood is one-size-fits-all. While we don’t think there’s a definite list of things you can check off, these are some of the essential points to consider:
- Start teaching your toddler how to coexist and interact with their siblings before birth (i.e., patience, sharing, gentleness, etc.).
- Spark your toddler’s interest in babies in ways they can understand (show them what they were like when they were a baby, tell them stories, get them excited about helping you take care of them when they arrive, etc.).
- Gradually start encouraging independent play.
- Consider your needs and options for getting help (ideally, start searching for it).
- Keep things as normal as possible with your toddler and prioritize one-on-one time with them throughout the process.
Lastly, don’t forget: preparing for twins with a toddler is mainly about being empathic with your little one–and with yourself!