Everything is a mess and you are feeling less of a mother or father. Your twins’ toddler phase has left you overwhelmed, inefficient, stressed not to mention the emotional distance which has been created between you and your children. This is known as parental burnout. No parent wants to go through this and experience such hard emotions, yet in most instances, true to tales by parents of twins, it is inevitable. Parenting can be a stressful journey and the first step to preventing parental burnout is to understand the vital insights of what characterizes the twin toddler phase.
Insight number #1: Toddler development milestones.
The toddler phase kicks off at 12 months up to 36 months. During this phase, a lot of child development milestones are realized. Here is an outline of the toddler development phases. As twins are different individuals, their development milestones may vary. They will not be far off behind each other either.
The twins can stand well with their legs apart and their arms outstretched or placed overhead for balance. They can walk independently from one point to the other or with the help of a caregiver or furniture. They are yet to have an upright stance and they walk with wobbly steps. Their speech starts to progress.
Able to finger feed themselves using a mature pincer grasp. When they spot an object they like, they point at it expressing their interest.
At this phase, they combine babbling and words in their language as they continue to learn more words. They can follow simple instructions and retrieve objects when asked by the caregiver. Emotional development intensifies and they identify with the emotions of their twin, immediate family or people they come into contact with. A strong empathy starts to build and their twin bond matures to some extent.
They can build towers and scribble on paper, their grip on the crayon is sloppy but good progress.
The motor skills improve and now they can run, seat themselves in a chair and make a tower four cubes high. Their word count ranges between 10-25 words.
Possessiveness and the ‘mine’ phrase develops at this age. Through observation, the twins imitate adult actions like picking phone calls and hosting tea parties. The possessiveness may result in conflict as they do not want to share their toys and anything they label as ‘mine’ with others.
After doing the wrong thing, feelings of shame, guilt, and sadness follow.
Motor skills are further developed and they can throw objects, kick a ball, draw circles and lines. At this age, they can undress themselves independently though some children may need help. If one twin sees the other undressing independently, they may try to do it too by copying their twin.
Investing in toddler gates will be of huge benefit as toddlers aged 24 months can turn doorknobs and get into other rooms. Curiosity is never enough at this age.
Their speech word count increases to between 50 and 200 words and sentences have two words which are related but lacking a verb “Mommy, play.”
When you call out their name, they respond and may have started recognizing the names of immediate family members.
This is the final age before a child transitions into the pre-school age. Sentences have verbs and more words and basically, they can hold a conversation with you and their twins. They identify their gender as well as that of others.
Socialization, creativity and individuality development takes root in this age. Learn how to identify toddler twin behavior here.
Insight number #2: Twin Toddlers Fun activities.
If you are to preserve your sanity and prevent parental burnout, you need to keep your toddler twins engaged in activities that help them grow and reach those development milestones while keeping everyone happy and at peace. Most toddlers will enjoy having an assortment of toys and chasing each other around while others would want to go for outing and epic child adventures. This can be taxing for parents without help and striking a balance can prove challenging.
Understand the personality of each twin and engage them in activities that they best relate to. Where twins have different interests, help will come in handy. Have your partner take one twin to the park while engaging the other twin in an activity that she enjoys. Below are activities that are tailored to develop hand-eye- coordination, color and shape sorting, fine motor skills and number practice.
1) Obstacle course. This is a great indoor game for days when the weather inhibits play dates at the park. Create the obstacle course using boxes and blankets while making sure that everything is toddler proofed.
2) Music and dancing. Your toddler twins will enjoy some upbeat music and dancing around a room. It can be made into a family activity to encourage bonding and teamwork.
3) Blocks and books. Children love to try things out and building the highest block tower will excite them. If they are having problems and reacting negatively to failure, divert their attention to another activity and encourage them to try later. Picture and coloring books will evoke creativity and help a child to identify with their environment better.
4) Laundry basket rescue mission– this can be a powerful tool to foster a twin bond. You can have them retrieve toys for each other and as a means to solve conflicts and makeups after fierce competition and squabbles.
Insight number #3: Dealing with twin toddler temper tantrums
Tantrums are sure to lead you to a point of insanity when wrongly handled. They are characterized by aggressive crying, kicking, screaming and in some cases breaking and throwing of closest objects. Twins are likely to copy and escalate the behavior of each other leading to the infamous twin escalation syndrome.
Tantrums are most likely as a result of stress, hunger, and a frustrating environment.
A child who is unable to express emotions is likely to have a meltdown of temper tantrums, especially in public unfamiliar places. When dealing with toddler temper tantrums, NASP recommends to;
1) Stay calm.
Shouting and trying to reason with a toddler in a tantrum state will yield no result. It will only fuel the tantrum and everybody will be frustrated. Stay calm during this situation and let the tantrum wear off. You’ll be thinking more clearly when you are not screaming your lungs off.
2) Acknowledge the emotion.
Your child is likely to calm down when you acknowledge the big intimidating emotion they are unable to express.
“You’ll build a taller tower with more exercise.”
“First times can be hard. You are doing great.”
Everybody craves reassurance and more so children. Try it out and see the wonders it works.
3) Manage the triggers.
Tantrums are a result of different emotions, environments, and feelings that a toddler cannot relate to or express. Is it hunger during shopping time? Try feeding your child before outings and activities.
New environment? Talk to your child and describe what the environment will be like. Point out features that will interest them to give them a sense of familiarity.
Big emotions? Talk, let them ask questions and use fun ways of teaching about frustration, failure, conflict, and pain.
4) Consistency when dealing with toddler tantrums.
Appeasing a tantrum by granting a child’s impractical demand and shouting at them tomorrow will result in more tantrums. A consistent and firm approach to tantrum management will give the child an understanding of what is expected of them and reduce tantrum episodes.
Preventing Parental Burnout
Psychology Today says that twins have the same developmental needs as single babies, but the psychological situation of twins and their parents is more complex.” Parents have to divide their time, love and attention to two individuals with the same development needs yet distinct individuals. This is in turn a huge deal for parents to twins. How do one coordinate schedules, have time to take care of self and give time to her partner. To prevent parental burnout,
Taking care of your self is taking care of your child. Toddlers will need to recharge energy, love, and care from you. If your energy is 0%, then there is not much to offer your twin toddlers. Invest in a good nanny and allow yourself an hour or two to rediscover your passions and interests. Go out on a date, a spa visit or any other thing to recharge your spirits. You’ll be guaranteed more energy and provide better care for your babies.
2) Focus on what matters most currently.
A line up of all chores that comes with raising twin toddlers can leave your head feeling heavy and your body longing for an extended vacation away from all parental stressors. Focus on what needs to be done now and do it. You are not superhuman and multitasking everything is impossible. Small goals and a task list will give a better insight of what is urgent.
3) Join a support group.
People who understand, people who care and help you reduce burnout will ease the stress of parenting. Join a twin community and reach out for help before everything becomes overwhelming.
Parental burnout can be an unnerving and disliked situation with detrimental effects on both parents and children. Nabbing it before it progresses will guarantee that you can provide the care that your twin toddlers require and allow you some peace of mind. Understand the needs of your twin toddlers, develop a twin schedule for feeding, playtime, bathing, and activities to give you more leeway when it comes to managing time. But most of all, remember you are human too. Take a break and recharge.