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Raising Self to Raise Twins: Lessons from Our Journey





Double Delight: Grandparents' Role in Nurturing Grand-Twins

A big and hearty hello to all my fellow twin parents!

As my identical twin girls turn 5 years old (a day that I waited for since the time they were born!), I feel that I have gone through a rigorous learning school. A full cycle of learning and growing through the journey of giving birth and raising them. The first 5 years of raising twins is a hugely eventful chapter in itself and in this article, I wish to share some of the key lessons I have learnt through this journey.

These are also the foundation building years for children and for the way we first show up as their parents. Getting our act together in this initial phase can really help the whole family in enjoying this wild ride, creating deep bonds, building a strong value system and avoid getting scarred in the process because trust me the struggle is real! 😉

In This Article

    1. Raising kids is a marathon or a triathlon, definitely not a sprint:

    The journey of raising kids and that too twins is kind of long and hard. Each day can be different and bring its own set of challenges and joys. In the beginning of the journey we have relatively more energy, discipline, commitment to do the right things and to do things right. However gradually as time and each new challenge takes its toll on us, our enthusiasm and motivation can tend to take a downward spiral.

    So here are some simple facts that are helpful for us to accept as it is, in order to prepare ourselves well for the road ahead:

    1st - Challenges are going to be there

    2nd - The road is a long one

    3rd and the most important – Parents need to create practices and systems to care for the kids and to care for themselves, that are sustainable over a period of time

    Research in the field of Positive Psychology has proven that a certain amount of stress is actually good for us. It pushes us to becomes better and to expand the horizons of our comfort zone, to actually achieve more than what we thought. However perineal stress over a long period of time can be extremely detrimental to health at all levels. Stress in combination with cycles of rest and recovery ensures that you are able to perform well for longer periods of time. Hence ensure that each person involved in raising kids gets some space and time to rest and recover. This will help in maintaining your sanity and your health its one of the most important things that you can do as a parent for yourself and your kids!

    2. Fill thy cup to fulfil others:

    Each person has a cup of wellness, patience, love, care, empathy. We give from that cup to each person we engage with.

    You might have heard of that story in which there was once a lovely lady sitting with a cup and a child came running and bumped into her chair. What do you think happened next? 😊

    Whatever was inside her cup spilled out! This is so true literally and figuratively.

    If there is patience and love in our cup, that will spill out and if there is irritation, anger and frustration then that will spill out. We cannot blame our children for what comes out of us.

    And sometimes the cup becomes empty, and we feel we do not have anything to offer anymore.

    As a parent, specially to twins, it is very important that you try and fill your cup of positive emotions by doing those things or meeting those people that nourish you, recharge you, rejuvenate you, make you feel wonderful about yourself and your life. It is your responsibility to fill your cup and taking care of it proactively will ensure that you are able to give your family, your spouse, your children and your own self the love, care and affection that’s needed.

    Go for that walk, or to the gym or to the dance class. Ask for some alone time to just read or listen to music, to meditate and connect with your inner self. It’s okay to take that time out, for a quick stroll around the block or a catch up with some friends. If you are not able to step out, think of how you can do fun and rejuvenating things at home. Invite friends home, do a movie night in, play some music and dance around, let your kids see their mumma and daddy have fun, go for a drive and an ice cream at night.

    & Be gentle and loving with your own self! You are doing your best!

    You can ask this question to yourself everyday – What can I do to fill my cup today?

    Raising Self to Raise Twins: Lessons from Our Journey

    3. Create cardinal rules for clarity and confidence in your parenting:

    Creating some clear rules around what is okay and what is not okay helps in setting boundaries, manage the twin dynamics, instil good habits (in kids and in adults as well) and gives everyone in the house clarity on how the parents are going to raise the kids.

    Some of the rules that we have in our house are:

    • No comparison between the twins by us or by anyone else
    • No judgemental comments on them by us or by anyone else
    • Everything to be given equally
    • In case there is only one thing that they wish to play with or use they need to take turns for it
    • First thing to do when you enter the house is to remove your shoes and wash your hands
    • Wash hands every time before eating
    • No hitting anyone in any case
    • Use golden words – sorry, thank you, please
    • You can have 1-2 items in a day that have sugar like biscuits, chocolates, cake etc.
    • TV time – Around 2 hours in the day split in 2-3 parts
    • If mom and dad are not in the house, listen to what grandmom says

    All the members of our family, including neighbours and guests are mindful of these rules we have created for our kids and how we want them to be treated and it helps with maintaining some basic physical and emotional hygiene factors in the house.

    4. Surrender to the chaos and imperfections of life:

    Kids in general create what we adults call ‘A Mess’ every day in almost everything they do.

    Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist, author, and science communicator had something interesting and true to say about this - "Kids are sources of chaos and disorder. Get over that fact. Where does the disorder come from? It’s because they are experimenting with their environment. Everything is new to them, everything. Your job is less to instil curiosity than to make sure you don’t squash what is already there,” Dr. Tyson said.

    In order to reduce our work and avoid the mess we do the uphill task of stopping the kids from making a mess. You might find yourself saying ‘Don’t touch this!’, ‘Hold this carefully’, ‘Don’t throw this’, ‘Be careful’ multiple times a day. With twins its double the play and double the mess.

    Now, after doing this for many years, I have finally been able to accept that it’s a lost battle to begin with. Half the mess they make is because they are in an act of exploration, or creation, or curiosity that needs to be satiated. Otherwise, the very spirit within them twists & turns and screams because the innate need to know, discover and experiment is not satisfied. The other half is because “They Are Kids” and their motor skills, body balance, ability to be mindful and fully present in the moment, is not developed enough. I am sure you know some adults who also suffer from this…. yet! 😉

    So, of course, tell them to be careful and mindful and how they can avoid making a mess or chaos. Allocate a space in the house where they are free to make a mess and go crazy. But at the same time, know that, they might be trying their best to follow your advice.

    We normally give them space in the balcony and then let go of what they do.

    Having twins can be A LOT! From the first year of non-stop feeding and pooping to managing two toddlers who are learning to walk, talk and are constantly competing for the parent’s love, time, attention and space on their lap, to unexpected cough and flu, tummy bugs, changing sleep cycles, food habits, and behaviours. The first 5 years are absolutely action packed. Plus coordinating the changing physical and emotional rhythms of two kids is another level of a juggling act. In all of that, connecting with self, finding perfect moments of joy and peace, having clarity and a vision of your day, week and life in general can be quite challenging. It helps to just accept that for some time our life is going to be imperfect. Instead of a well-coordinated dance performance, it may look like one in which people have been invited impromptu on stage to pull off a group dance. And if you really look at it, the second scenario can also be a lot of fun, if we let go of trying to do things perfectly.

    Having kids is the greatest opportunity to embrace chaos and imperfection and figure out how you can survive or thrive in such an environment as well. Something that can be extremely valuable in the workplace or as an entrepreneur.

    Raising Self to Raise Twins: Lessons from Our Journey

    5. Balance between letting go and holding boundaries:

    You will create rules and your children will negotiate and push against them. This will happen multiple times in a day. Each party is playing its role in this grand scheme of life.

    I invite you to hold those boundaries firmly, however also intuitively sense into moments in which you can let it go and how much you can let it go. Parenting is a great balancing act!

    Its hard to explain without a conversation, however you can look at it from the lens of love vs discipline. You can assess from situation to situation that who needs to win here – Love or Discipline.

    Sometimes in enforcing discipline, love takes a back seat and that creates hurt in people.

    Children need to see that it’s important to follow the rules and do the right things. But it’s also important to make space for love. Parenting is also an intuitive act!

    6. Leverage planning and organising skills:

    Most of us have done a lot of planning and organising for ourselves at school, college and specially at our workplace. Its time to bring those skills home!

    Whether its balancing the formula feed and breastmilk that the kids are consuming, keeping a track of poo and pee for different reasons, creating a sustainable & predictable routine that everyone can follow to maintain sanity of the house and get some rest, manage the growing expenses of raising two kids at once, planning activities to keep the kids engaged, using tools or applications to remember important dates, appointments and things to do, for getting groceries and other house stuff on time, coordinating calendars between parents, planning playdates and outdoor activities, planning weekly food menu for kids & adults and hunt for new recipes that are yummy and nutritious for the whole family. There are a lot of things that require detail orientation, good memory and right timing for which you cannot rely on just the natural goodness of your brain.

    Make things easier for yourself by bringing a good amount of those planning & organizing skills and that thinking rigour to manage your home and kids, that you would have used in your office and felt proud of yourself.

    7. Ask for help!! (can’t emphasize it enough):

    It really takes a village to raise kids and to raise twins it takes a town! 😊

    Parents, grandparents, neighbours, helpers, relatives, teachers, all come together at different points in time to run the engine of a house, of a family that is raising twins.

    Being a very independent person who likes to do things on her own, for the first few months after having kids I kept trying to do everything for them and felt very anxious if someone else was handling my daughters. I felt I would do things perfectly. However, I was just setting myself up for grand exhaustion and a sense of being trapped in the world of milk, bottles and diapers.

    Gradually I realised I need to let go, let people help, good enough is the new perfect.

    There was also an element of just feeling very uncomfortable with people doing something for me & for my kids. I felt that if they help me then I will be under their debt and I will have to do whatever they say to keep them happy or to pay off the debt. Or I will not be considered as a capable or a good mom if I am depending on others. Gradually with a lot of self-work, I changed the narrative to “These kids are not just mine as a mother, they also belong to and are a responsibility of their father, their grandparents and of anyone who is with them. There is a relation between my children and so many other people who live around them or are connected with them and people uphold that relationship by taking care of them. So its perfectly fine to take help, to let people come in and build their own relationship with my kids and to give and take love and joy that comes from engaging with kids”.

    I would also highly recommend to get enough hired help, especially in the initial years with twins, so that the parents can focus on the most important things in their life and delegate the operational aspects of raising kids and running the house as much as possible. Pay good attention to your own health and state of mind since everything depends on that.

    8. Readjust Priorities & Accept the new normal:

    When kids arrive in our life, everything else becomes priority no.2, however it takes a little bit of time to understand It, adjust to it and accept it.

    With twins, getting out of the house, socializing, attending weddings and functions, enjoying your meal at restaurants, going on trips, following your hobby etc. can be quite challenging and that can lead to you having to say no to a lot of plans. When kids come, everything else goes on hold for some time. That time is a little longer in case of twins. The effort you need to put in to get out of the house and manage them in a new location can be far more than the enjoyment you will get from that experience. This realization dawns after a few experiments and you would be very lucky if that’s not the case with you.

    Balancing the load of caring for the kids between different family members, having enough family and hired help, sensing what is going to be actually manageable, comfortable and enjoyable for the kids and other family members while making any plan and accepting this new situation in which you are right now helps in making the right decisions and avoiding some very bad experiences. 😊

    Know that this is just a phase, a little slice of your life, it will not always be like this. You will get back out there having fun, celebrating and doing everything you wish to do, with your very own 2 little cheerleaders rooting for you!

    9. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst:

    This has been our mantra for each and every day, event or outing that we have lived with our twin girls. Preparing for the worst is the more important part of this mantra. We are always more prepared that our other friends who go out with one child. We carry meal, snacks, fruits, water for kids, variety of activities, extra clothes, sometimes pillows and blankets and playing mat as well, extra time and extra stamina. We need it all.

    We keep goodies hidden in our bags or the car for that meltdown that comes like a curveball. Totally unexpected and unstoppable. Phones need to be fully charged to play music or youtube when all the other fun things are done and dusted. All the preparation helps us feel confident that we have got it under control. Although life can still throw some googlies in which you may feel that the only thing you can do is pray!

    But when the day comes we go with the flow, we accept the madness, we hope and pray that we get enough strength, wisdom and patience to manage the curveballs with the girls, we keep our spirits high, we believe that the universe is always helping us and try to make sure we all have a good time.

    Raising Self to Raise Twins: Lessons from Our Journey

    10. Choose joy, choose gratitude and let the magic unfold:

    This once in a lifetime unique journey of raising twins is just a crazy, wild ride that you will remember and talk about for the rest of your life. Its like that crazy roller coaster that shows you what all is possible, what you are capable of and how you can be utterly scared and thrilled at the same time!

    Sometimes you can hit a rough patch when things don’t go your way. Your mind may start focusing on all the challenges, worries, fears, incomplete projects, unreached goals and things that are not perfect in your life. Your feelings can get all mixed up and create an inner confusion.

    In all those times and on each and every day, I invite you to make a conscious choice of your thoughts and the attitude with which you show up in life as an individual and now in the special role of a parent to twins. I invite you to choose gratitude for all that you have, for the good health of your family, for the comfort of your home, for the joy that your little ones bring in your home. Choose love even when it can be hard, because there is a healing power in love that makes things right. Choose patience with self and with kids, because it creates space for growth, for change and for peace. Choose those values that are most important for you and your family and practice them as much as you can, because the satisfaction that you will get from living your values or from choosing gratitude, love, patience, joy no matter how hard it gets, you will not get from choosing the easy.

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