If you already are a parent of other children then you have the advantages of experience, some perspective and have a pretty good idea of what to expect in the days and weeks ahead.
BUT – you also have the responsibility of other children to care for in addition to the upcoming double arrivals. You still need to worry about their needs and feelings. Some sibling rivalry and jealousy is to be expected with any new addition but with having twins there is a much larger adjustment.
Depending on their age, the arrival of twins can affect your children differently. Here are some things you may want to consider.
Toddlers – When your children are still little it hard for them to even grasp the idea that mommy is going to have more babies or that they are actually IN mom’s tummy. They are too little to really understand what that means. They may cry more when mommy is not as available to them, maybe not able to pick them up and possibly she is away from the family in the hospital. They may be more whiny and clingy or may even seem to withdraw. It is also possible that some of their behaviors may regress to an earlier age, for example, they may ask to nurse like the babies or a previously potty-trained child may start to have accidents.
We found keeping our 2 year old daughter as involved as possible in her new role as ‘big sister’ helped immensely. We also gave her 2 little dolls to be “her” babies to care for and to mimic what mommy was doing. It also helped that Dora the Explorer’s mommy had just had twin babies on TV. It is important to start preparing them as much as you can ahead of time.
If they are going to be giving up their room, or in the case of our daughter it was her crib , then it needs to happen BEFORE the arrival of the babies. That way they have some time to adjust to their new role and don’t resent the change as much when the babies arrive at home. With our daughter, we needed the crib for the twins ( and needed to buy another one!), so we put a ‘big girl’ bed in her room along with the crib, months in advance and let her decide which bed she would sleep in each night. It didn’t take long for her to pick the bed she could get out of on her own , so that made it her choice, and not something bad the ‘babies’ caused.
Let your kids help out with the shopping for the twins!
Preschool Age Children age 3-5 handle change a little differently.They understand more of what is happening and may be really excited to meet their new siblings. They take great pride in being mommy’s little helper and being the ‘big kid’. They may also verbalize their resentment about the babies and get frustrated or throw tantrums and sulk when mommy’s hands are always full . Try to be patient. Praise your child as much as possible for helping out. Give them special little jobs .
You do need to watch constantly for signs of aggression or even just curiosity ” what happens if I pinch the baby ?” ” why can’t they eat my cheerios ?”
I found it extremely hard with 3 children under 3 because I couldn’t leave them alone for a second. I rememberone time that my daughter decided to give the babies some ‘friends’ and found the twins completely buried in stuffed animals. We saw a lot of tears around here from my little drama queen !
Spend quality time with your children reading! It makes your children feel special.
Older children can be a HUGE help ! They are usually quite proud to have little ones around and may also have the benefit of experience if they have already been through the birth of a new child. The key with the older ones is to find a balance between expecting them to help. and not relying on them TOO much so that they can still be kids !
Our oldest son was 8 years old and we had to transition him to a bedroom downstairs. My husband included him in much of the designing and building of the room to make it special. During my pregnancy my husband actually slept downstairs on the couch a lot because I was getting up every 15 minutes during the night to go to the bathroom and he wasn’t getting any sleep!
And just what does Dad think about all this ?
This I think really helped my son adjust and not have to be all alone downstairs. It ended up being the “guys basement.” Again, I think the more you prepare everyone ahead of time, the less they will resent the changes in your family once the babies arrive.
Here’s a wonderful website I found to help you parent through all these changes! “Discover the simple but profound difference clear, firm and consistent parenting will bring to your family. How to enhance your children’s happiness, self esteem and responsibility while increasing and developing your own emotional maturity as adults and parents.”
Talk to your kids about what to expect. Explain how things might be different for them. Allow them to help in the preparations and spend as much time as you can with them. Once those twins arrive, you will have less time with them and they need to know that you love them and that they are still important. Now is really the time too, to arrange for HELP after the arrival of the twins !
If you sometimes feel overwhelmed and alone, know that you are not.Take advantage of the research and findings on essential-tips-for-mom.
Don’t be afraid to look for and ask for help when you need it. Sometimes other things occur that can affect your other children and the family as a whole. Raising disabled twins , or having one twin with a disability, and one healthy child ,and experiencing the devastating loss of a twin do affect the entire family.
Having twins is a family matter!