15 Massive Challenges of Parenting Twins and How to Navigate Them

Twins are considered a phenomenon attracting even the hardest of hearts. As parents to twins, you have seen it all, strangers cooing at your toddler twins while in line at a supermarket, your preschooler twins becoming the subject of attention while at the annual family gathering and so many other instances that show the joys and challenges of parenting twins.

 They will tell you that parenting twins is not all cooing, cuddles and sunshine, there are challenges that comes with raising twins. Some are simple to solve, while others will take a life time of practice and consistent parenting strategies. Today we explore the unique challenges that parenting twins brings along, and how to navigate them.

Fostering individuality whilst maintaining the twin bond.

You’ve probably heard of the twin myth – the twin talk and the special unbreakable relationship that twins share. Parents are thrown into this mix of trying to foster individuality, while at the same time nurturing the twin bond that twins share.

This can prove overwhelming for parents but not impossible. To help foster individuality, start introducing aspects of ‘me’ to each of them separately. Encourage them to take separate activity depending on their passions, and having different groups of friends as they get older.

Calling twins by their name is a small act but one that makes an enormous difference entirely. Don’t assume that they would prefer the same things, instead be on a quest to learn and understand their personality and what matters most in their life.

Loving each twin equally in their own special way

Parents may struggle with loving their twins equally, but the problem is they are trying to love them the same way. Each twin has a language of love preference, that is different to their co- twin.

Figuring this out, is cracking the code of loving your kids the right way. As twins have different personalities, they will also have different preferences when it comes to life’s choices. This nuance of individuality increases as they get older and start to establish their identity. Your role is to find what works for who, and break the myth of loving them the same way. Love equally but not the same.

“As long as you are treating each twin fairly, appreciating each twin and valuing the unique gifts each brings to the family, then you are loving your twins in the best way you can,” –Eileen. M co-author of Raising Twins

Challenges in Parenting Twins whilst encouraging acceptance by older siblings

Much attention is given to twins when they are born, which can make the older siblings feel left out of the parents’ love, attention and in the family. This is most common in preschoolers and toddlers, because they are still young and are yet to interpret what it truly means to have twins as new siblings.

 Dagmar Scaslise in her book, Twin sense, encourages parents to involve older siblings in family routines, ask for their input where twins are concerned and let them gradually come into position. She also goes ahead to warn that Pushing the big sister or big brother role on your older kids will only push them away. “Children like to feel older but not protective or particularly to be nice.” Says Dagmar Scaslise.

Setting time aside for your older child without the constraints of the routine of bath, sleep or feeding activities will reassure them and lessen the ‘threat’ of new twins addition to the family.

Rivalry in Twins

Twins may be the best of friends and worst of enemies when they are not willing to share, or when competing for attention. This can turn the house into a battle field, with the parents as the third party, trying to quell the fights and the rivalry that is common when raising twins. They will bang each other’s head, bite, kick and scratch, all in an attempt of competition and attention. Sometimes, one child may be having behavioral issues, and a behavior expert will need to take you and your child through counselling. Parents can handle the normal twin fights and rivalry easily by,

a) Maintaining neutrality when caring for twins.

b) Following up with consequences and establishing rules.

c) Getting to the root cause of the twin fights, and setting clear boundaries in how they relate with each other.

Resource Management whilst coordinating individual activities in twins

As twins transition from toddler phase, preschool, school years, tweens and finally into teenagers, logistics become more challenging than the last phase. They will probably get into different classes and join separate club activities that you need to attend to. Schedules will not work as well as when they were infants and toddlers. You will have to get creative, divide the activity time with your partner and get as much help as you can so you can be there when your kids need you most.

Techniques to Managing costs for parents with twins

It is undebatable that parents to twins will have to allocate bigger budgets when it comes to raising their twins. The diaper costs will be higher, the furniture, grocery shopping, baby food and even the toys and play activities.

Parents can cut down on the costs by buying twin necessities in bulk, go for diapers which sell in bulk, shop on the off seasons when items are relatively cheaper, make use of the hand me downs of older siblings, other family and friends, and shop for multi- purpose items . Making your own baby food and packaging it in the freezer will cut down on your costs significantly.

When trying to cut down your nursery costs, ensure that the furniture and baby products you are using are certified by the relevant government authorities.

Discipline techniques for twins.

When it comes to discipline, the same consequences will not always work for both twins.

Discipline separately. Lay down the same rules, but discipline each child separately. Never punish them as a unit when only one is responsible).” Michele Borba.

Avoid disciplining as a unit, this will only lead to more fights, competition and blame games of who did what.

How to identify and Manage Separation anxiety

This challenge will manifest earlier on as children transition into preschool, your twins may be afraid of letting go of you and move into this new school environment, where everything is different. Separation anxiety will increase when preschool twins are placed in separate classes.

Dr. Katie Wood says that separation anxiety may manifest in adolescence, where adolescents have a harder time separating from their parents and starting new relationships. To curb this, introduce issues of identity earlier to lessen the impact of separation anxiety.

How to avoid Parental burnout common in parents to twins & multiples.

“Whom do I feed first?

“Who need a diaper change first?”

This are all queries that parents to multiples fail to get a solution to. How does one parent share herself between two babies who need her attention?

 Parents of twins have to consistently deal with issues of coordination, breastfeeding, bathing, sleeping schedule, all the while trying to take care of other aspects of their lives. Parental burnout is not far off, with all this on the hands of one person, however, it can be combated by consistently recharging, focusing on what currently matters most and joining a support group.

How to Identify and Manage a Dominant Twin

You have heard and seen it. Where one twin dominates the other. Twin dominance can either be physical, psychic or one twin adopting the role of the spokesman.

“The challenge with twins is that you have the dominant and the submissive twin. If you keep them in the same class room, the dominant twin will keep speaking for the other sibling and make decision.” Says Marie Doyle.

To prevent dominance, try talking to your twins about individuality, assertiveness and why making their own decisions as separate individuals is important.

Twin Development and Milestones

Having twins means almost simultaneous development where they both learn to walk or crawl at the same time. Handling this simultaneous development and milestones can be extremely challenging for parents to twins. This is the time to accept all the help you can from family and friends, don’t shy away from asking as it would save you a lot of frustrations.

Expect Chaos and Mess with Twins

From potty training mess, toys strewing on the floor to storage challenges, parenting twins is coupled up with a lot more chaos and mess in the house. There will be issues with sharing, noise and rivalry as your twins try to compete and on whatever comes to mind. But the photos, the memorable moments, and the love will come in double portions.

Techniques to Create the Nonexistent me Time.

For new twin mothers, alone time is incredibly hard to find. You will struggle with breastfeeding issues, sleep issues and diaper change. Everything must be done twice. Newborns have yet to establish a rhythm in their sleep patterns, and you might find yourself waking more times than you can remember. Most parents to twins admit that the first few months of infancy are a whirl wind. They were only trying to survive and catch some sleep.

Working as a team with your partner, and trying to do things the tandem way will help you save some time, and find some alone time even though in limited quantities.

Challenges of Parenting Twins and the Impact on a Couple’s relationship

Caring for twins is not an easy job. Parents, whether CEOs, a stay at home mum or an artist will define it as a full time job. Most parents of multiples may work exemplary well as a team but fail as a couple, the dates will reduce and the romance may suffer, but with a good helping system in place, things will get back to order and love will bloom.

Overcoming Stereotype and hurtful comparisons.

You may understand that your kids are gifted differently but the public will not. They will ask which child is smarter, who is easier to raise, who listens, who does not. People will compare, scrutinize and draw attention to your twins. This may make twins uncomfortable, face conflicting circumstances and fuel competition.

Appreciating each twin’s unique abilities and assuring them consistently of their role in the family, will take of the pressure of the publics’ stereotype.