How to prepare Siblings when bringing Newborn Twins home
In our Twin Love Concierge workshops we often have expecting twins parents who already have children and they ask how they can make the transition into a larger family as easy as possible. As I only have the Twins and no other children I asked Joanna Venditti from Nesting Story and a Mom to four, including twins, to share her advice on how to be as prepared as you can be:
Daunting but rewarding
Bringing home one baby from the hospital to meet their older siblings is a very exciting experience, but when you are bringing two home it can be very daunting. Although our three year old daughter Beau and her five year old brother Holden had asked for a baby for Christmas and finding out on Christmas eve that not just one but two babies were in mommy’s tummy was very exciting, actually bringing home two little beings that needed almost all of my attention at first was a bit of a wake up call.
While pregnant with our twin girls there was a lot of talk about the two babies. We would all laugh thinking about how squeezed in there they were and we would even imitate what we thought they could be saying to each other with funny voices. We would also talk about some ground rules and created new habits that would change anyways once the babies were to arrive. Although Holden and Beau were so excited and couldn’t wait to hold them in the hospital, having to leave again with their grandparents while mommy, daddy and the twins stayed behind was very hard for them. Finding out I had to stay an extra day with our girls was also difficult so I had my husband give our kids their gift we had put away from the babies to soften the blow.
Patience is key
When it was time to finally head home with the babies we orchestrated it so that Beau was napping and Holden was occupied. I snuck upstairs to the nursery to get in a tandem-nursing marathon before adding the older two to the mix. Little did we know that Beau was not napping, but emptying an entire bottle of baby powder all over her room. It was a long day.
It took a few weeks for everyone to get adjusted. There were some temper tantrums here and meltdowns there (and not just from my kids). It seemed like a whirlwind then but I just took it one day at a time and accepted a lot of help from family and friends. Eventually we created a new normal and now we can’t picture our family without these two newest members. Here are some tips to help the adjustment of adding twins to your family:
1. Start new routines before the babies arrive
While pregnant with our twins I quickly realized that I couldn’t keep doing all of the daily tasks I would before I was pregnant. One of those was bathing our older kids. About five months into my pregnancy my husband took over bath time. We started to think ahead about how our evening would look once two babies joined our lives and decided that me trying to put four kids to bed each night would be too over-whelming. My husband started to take over bedtime and create his own routine with our kids. Although there was nights that our kids would protest and want mommy, I held my ground and only went in at the end for a kiss and sometimes a quick song. By the time our girls were born our older kids were not only used to this routine but also looked forward to that special time with daddy after he arrived home from work each day.
2. Be very clear about the rules and stick to them
Whether your older child is 2 or 7 an accident can happen so quickly. Once while I was dressing our baby girl Mia on the ground our daughter was twirling nearby to show me her pretty dress when she tripped, stumbled and kicked her in the head. Mia whaled, I yelled and Beau cried. Although Mia was fine it did leave a little mark and it could have been so much worse. From that day forward we added stay near the babies feet not heads when they are on the ground to our list of rules about the babies. Some of those other rules include no carrying them, only hold them when closely supervised by an adult, do not touch their faces or head and so on. It may seem like a no brainer but you might be surprised how quickly your heart melts when you see how careful and sweet your older kids are with your exciting new arrivals and be tempted to give them more responsibility. Also be very clear with parents of other kids. Again you’d think it would go without saying but you’d be surprised what other parents would allow their kids do with your babies!
3. Grab special time when you can
Although you will think you are prepared for how much of your time your newborns would consume but to actually live it (especially if you are exclusively breast-feeding) is a shocking reality. You will break down at times and feel like you are so spread thin and are not able to give everyone enough of your attention. Hang in there. Take those first few stressful weeks one day at a time. I promise, although it will always be busy it won’t always feel impossible. In the meantime grab special cuddles and kisses when you can. Even if they are only for a passing moment it will make a difference.
4. Know when to be soft and know when to put your foot down
When our girls first came home I was parenting my older two from a guilty place. Our son, the sensitive soul, needed patience and extra attention but our firecracker Beau quickly caught on to mommy’s new demeanor and started taking advantage. She was throwing temper tantrums and being impossible. It wasn’t until my mom witnessed this behavior and watched me sob that she gave me the best advice; “your priority right now is those little babies and your health. Beau is older and very resilient.” I stopped putting up with her nonsense and she quickly realized the jig was up and behaved from that point on.