Today my twins, the youngest of my kids, are celebrating their 8th birthday. 8 isn’t really a big milestone birthday, not like 5 or 10 or even 7 really, but it’s still the closing of yet another year. After all, yesterday was the last time I’ll ever have a 7 year old. Here’s 8 things I’ve learned in the past 8 year of parenting twins.
Since my twins are kids 4 and 5 for me I definitely noticed the difference between raising two kids the same age vs my other kids of different ages.
I really can’t believe how the time has flown!
At the time I’m writing this I’m sitting pretty close to the actual time they were born. They were preemies though, so they’d go on to spend another 24 and 25 days in the hospital after this – eventually coming home on Mother’s Day and the day after.
Whether you’re a twin parent yourself or just want to know what it’s like, here’s what I’ve learned in the last 8 years of parenting twins.
They’re Different, But Not Always
Of course twins are two different people, even identical twins like my boys. Everyone warned me about this and we’ve always made the effort to not treat them like a unit (although not always successfully.) Although matching outfits are cute, I’ve always made sure to have a mix.
And when they have different tastes I make sure to cater to each. For example, we have two different character happy birthday banners hanging up right now.
But I was surprised to find out my twins are also quite a bit alike. Unlike their siblings, they’re completely fine with wearing the same clothes and sometimes go out of their way to match. They also frequently choose the same thing independent of each other.
Two at Once Was Harder Than 2 Under 2
My first two kids are 22 months apart in age. That age gap was tough, but it wasn’t anything compared to have two babies of exactly the same age.
The biggest difference was immediate needs; even if your kids are only a year apart you still have one in a different developmental place. A 1-2 year old doesn’t need to be held, changed, fed, or rocked like a newborn.
With twins you have two screaming newborn babies, both of which can’t wait. And you often have to pick who gets cared for first! Not an easy position for a parent.
Even once twins get older there’s no promise they’ll be at the same developmental level so you may not even benefit from that perk compared to kids of different ages, too.
It’s More Expensive Than I Was Expecting
With my first three kids I ended up with a mix of new items and hand-me-downs. The thing about having twins, though, is that hand me downs aren’t as useful. Why? Well you need double of everything!
I was able to use a lot of my son’s clothes for my boys but there just wasn’t enough of everything for two kids. On top of that, we still needed an extra every step: whether it was a snowsuit, shoes, bikes, crib, and so on.
Two babies in the house also means less space for all that gear so we ended up selling our bulky swing and exersaucer in favour of slimer options to make space.
Sleep Training is Hard
I was so not expecting this one, especially after feeling like I had mastered sleep training with kids 2 and 3. One of my twins has never been a good sleeper and my boys have always shared a room, mostly due to space issues.
Here’s the thing though: room sharing with siblings and twins is different.
My 2nd and 3rd kids also shared a room, but with 3 years age difference it was a lot easier to put my son to sleep while his sister fussed. If she cried he often slept right through it! When things were really bad, it was also possible to put him in my bed for a couple nights to tackle sleep issues or regression.
With the twins, though, they always managed to wake each other up. Imagine two 5 month old babies sharing a room – anytime one cried the other would wake up. Really, I did try to sleep train. Honest.
I remember one particularly long night at about 7 months old where one baby cried for more than an hour. I was so upset, and so tired, but I wanted to trust the process. After he finally settled the twin started. Then he started again. Nope, no sleep training.
This is one area we’re still working on. Even this morning one twin, excited for his birthday, woke his brother up at 5:15. Yes, we have a gro clock. Yes, he can read the time.
The only difference now is they sleep through… It’s waking each other up on purpose to have buddy that’s the issue.
The “It Gets Easier” Moment Takes Longer
This is also partially because my twins have ADHD and other challenges, but it really took a lot longer to get to a stage where we feel like things are under control. In fact, I’d only say that’s really started happening over the past year or so if I’m being honest.
The thing about twins is that everything feels more overwhelming because you’re dealing with the same thing twice. Whether that’s potty training, learning chores, or buckling their own seatbelt you’re doing it all double – and that feels way harder than the same stage with one kid.
Now that we’ve reached that real “big kid” stage, though, it’s getting a lot easier to manage and feeling more like raising regular siblings.
Their Bond Really is Unique
Not to say all twins bond or siblings can’t be close, but there really is something special about the relationship that have with each other. For better or worse, they really do like spending time with each other.
What’s really cute to see is how they think about each other. For example, one of my boys had money and the other didn’t, so he bought two toy lightsabers so they could still play together.
While they fight a lot, these little moments help me hold onto the notion that the squabbling is just being kids and one day they’ll grow out of it.
Double Trouble is a Real Thing
When my boys were little everyone would say “double trouble” and it drove me crazy. Unfortunately, it was some kind of premonition; they were so mischievous! Forget having a built in playmat, my twins had a built in hype man to encourage each in all kinds of endeavours.
With my 3 older kids I barely had to lock anything up. We only did basic baby proofing, you know, keeping cleaners up, that sort of thing. With the twins I had to put locks on absolutely everything.
Fun for them… For me, not so much.
For this reason, another thing I’ve learned parenting twins has been how to clean almost anything. Ha.
It’s Double Rewarding
Screams in stereo are stressful, yes, but the “I love yous” coming from two directions make it all worth it. Yes, you get this with multiple children, but there’s something special about twins.
Because they spend so much time together you end up spending time with both of them, which means a closer bond between the three of you than is typical of siblings.
I want to leave you with this: parenting twins over the past 8 years has been some of the most challenging and most rewarding years of my life! These are just some of the things I’ve learned parenting twins that really stuck out…
Other things, like how to be more patient or juggle 5 kids ages 7 and under, are hard to describe. And I wouldn’t change a thing!