Parents raising sets of twins, triplets or quadruplets help us understand ‘more’ can be better.
“Twins! Triplets! Quadruplets!” says your doctor. Afterward, the thought — or shock — of having multiples begins to settle in, however, so might the panic. “Will we need two of everything?” “How will we afford them?” “How can we possibly care for two babies (or more!) at once?” While parents will discover they are outnumbered on a daily basis — there is also plenty of joy in raising multiples.
Keeping A Schedule
Parents learn quickly to expect the unexpected, to realize they have zero control, and to accept help when bringing home their little bundles of joy.
“Ask for help and let go of the guilt of not feeling like you can do it all yourself,” says Jennifer Harvey, mom of 11-month-old twins Oliver and Madeline in Willoughby. “The babies will benefit when you are relaxed and able to focus on them, rather than thinking about all the other things you need to do simultaneously.”
Schedules are key to life with multiples. Emily Honsa-Hicks, mom to 19-month-old twins Gaby and Romy says, “A great sleep-training book convinced us that scheduling naps and bedtime was not child abuse, and our girls began sleeping at the same time and through the night very quickly.”
It also helps parents manage time and arrange carpools to shuttle older twins and siblings with different interests.
Cathy Bellone, mom to 12-year-old twins Blake and Brittany and 10-year-old Dylan in Westlake, says, “I have boy/girl twins, so they have different friends and different activities, which means a lot of running around. Fortunately, many of their friends participate in the same activities, so I am in a few different carpools. This is the ideal situation; otherwise, they couldn’t be as involved.”
Parents also have a support group, Northeast Ohio Mothers of Multiples, which provides a variety of helpful resources to all families of multiples — twins, triplets, quads and beyond.
Making It Work
Multiples in, typically means money is out. With the increased costs, families have to make decisions that are best for them. Some moms return to work, while others don’t because of the high cost of daycare for two (or more) babies. Parents may become consultants for home-based companies or start their own businesses to augment income.
“Going from a two-income household with two people to instantly going to a one-income household with four people was quite the shock to our wallet,” said Jodi Davies, mom to 5-year-old twins Olivia and Aubrey and 2-year-old Willow, in the Akron area. “I had to be a little more creative, so I started to coupon and stockpile. I’ve also opened my own home-based business. The money that I bring in from this business allows me to pay for my twins’ dance classes.”
Parents often juggle the morning and night routines so one of the parents can be with the kids each time. Honsa-Hicks says she leaves work first and then heads home for the evening routine, while her husband, who goes into work later, handles the mornings with their daughters.
“Usually, my husband makes it home for the final goodnights,” she says.
If both parents work, they rely on others to keep them apprised of their children’s development and needs. To make it all work, communication is key.
“My husband Matt and I have regular ‘state of the union’ discussions where we address areas of concern or focus to ensure that we are working together toward mutual goals,” Honsa-Hicks says.
While multiples have an amazing bond, parents must remember they need to be treated as individuals. When multiples reach school age, sometimes they are in separate classes and begin to develop their own groups of friends.
Tracey Miller, mom to 6-year-old twins Samantha and Marissa and 9-year-old Jonathan in Brookpark, says, “The hardest thing is to remember that they are indeed two separate people. It’s very easy to compare and want them to be more alike (as if that would make a parent’s life easier). It’s also difficult to keep others from not comparing them as well. We don’t ever want them to hear the comparison or think they are any more or less than the other one!”
She described a situation when one twin was invited to a classmate’s birthday party and the other, in a different class, was not.
“This is a fact of life that they will both have to learn to deal with,” Miller says.
As multiples age, new challenges arise, such as driving and college costs for teens. It’s about compromise and a shared lifestyle, which helps when two kids want to take one car to different destinations. Nancy Nagle, mom to identical 19-year-old twin boys and two other sons in Mentor, said her boys worked it out.
“One drops the other off and picks him up later, they borrow one of the parents’ cars, or they hitch a ride with a friend,” she says. “It’s sometimes a juggling act, but it has worked.”
Donna Haviland, mom to 24-year-old boy/girl twins and two other daughters in Madison — and a twin herself — says, “Negotiation and compromise skills were definitely learned. My twin sister and I had one car to share from age 16 through the first two years at college. We had an off-campus apartment. The one who had to go in the earliest or stay the latest got first dibs on the car for safety reasons.”
Managing multiple college tuitions simultaneously can be daunting. Parents may need to be creative.
“[My boys] attended Lakeland Community College during their junior and senior high school years through the Post Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) program,” Nagle says. “They earned their associate’s degree at the same time they earned their high school diploma. Through PSEO, all tuition and books are covered; thus, we saved two years of college costs for each twin.”
While raising multiples can be stressful and financially taxing — the rewards and successes are multiplied.
Shelley Polewchak is a homeschooling mom to 7-year-old girl/boy twins, Reagan and Nolan. Many parents interviewed for this story are members of Northeast Ohio Mothers of Multiples (NEOMoM), which serves Lake County, eastern Cuyahoga County and Geauga County. Visit neomom.org for more info.