Recently, I came across this article from Twiniversity called “How to Help a New Parent of Twins.” This was a topic that has recently come up time and time again both in talking to Tim about things we wished to have help with and with others. In this list, there are some things that I agree with and some that I don’t. So, here’s MY list of how to help out new parents of twins based on Twiniversity’s list and my thoughts.
1. Feed the Family: Yes, yes, yes, and yes!
Don’t get me wrong, we have LOVED the adorable clothes, blankets, loveys, and other gear from our registry. We have used every single item we have been given. They have been wonderful. But as for HELP for us during those first few days/weeks/months, food has been the #1 “gift.” We aren’t picky (at least during this first little bit). We don’t even need full meals. But to open the freezer and be able to pull something out easily has been amazing. For those friends and family that have done this for us, I want to publicly say THANK YOU! You have no idea how little we want to cook and how wonderful it is to not have to cook or go grocery shopping.
2. Clean Their House: Yes and no.
When we first came home from the hospital, we loved the help from our moms to clean the house and do laundry. It was simply one less thing we had to think about. The only reason that this worked is that, in the months and weeks before Audrey and David arrived, our families took the time to learn how we liked things done. As the months have gone on, however, we have felt like we can do a bit more around the house and we want to do more around the house. To have the extra help with cleaning can make use feel inferior or incapable. Although we have twins, we really are managing ok at this point. If you want to help with cleaning the house, please ask us if that is ok. Find out how we want it done and listen to that. Otherwise, we will go behind your back and redo it… and that doesn’t help us OR you. Better yet, find out if we have a cleaning person that we use and pay to have the house cleaned. We had that given to us as a gift by amazing family members, and you have no idea what a relief that is!
3. Take Care of Their Older Children: Yep!
While we don’t have older children, we do have our dog, Lucy, and our cat, Toby. While the cat is pretty self-sufficient, we can’t say that about the dog. When the babies came home from the hospital, my parents took Lucy to their house to stay for about a week and a half while we transitioned into our new lives. Then, we were able to slowly ease into her being there with day-visits first and then finally we had her back with us 24/7 at about 2.5 weeks after birth. Having older children/animals definitely complicates things, and to have this extra assistance is so wonderful. Eventually, it was really nice to have Lucy back with us, and it has been great that my parents have offered to take her for overnights every now and then. As I mentioned with #2, as we have gotten into a routine, it’s comforting to have her here, and it has been wonderful for the offer, but we also appreciate that they understand when we say “Thank you, but no thank you.” Mom and Dad, if you are reading this, we may take you up on it when we travel down to Alabama this summer or for other short trips coming up (traveling with babies AND having a dog might be challenging…).
4. Help with Late-Night Feedings: Eh, not really
We had our moms stay with us for the first two weeks that we were home from the hospital. They were enormously helpful, from cleaning to laundry to doing the 6:30-9:30 baby shift while we had 3 hours of sleep. They always told us each night: “Come get me in the middle of the night if you need me.” Maybe we were stubborn or gluttons for punishment or it really wasn’t that bad, but we never got them. We have always done the middle-of-the-night feedings by ourselves. It was simply too much trouble for me to pump and give the milk in a bottle. Now, the one time we did have help with the night feedings was at about 2.5 months when my parents stayed with the babies, we went to a hotel, and we could sleep all night long. It was glorious and we did nothing but talk about the babies the whole time. We missed them so much, that we haven’t done it since then (not even for our anniversary). And you know what, that is ok! But that one night was really nice!
5. Listen to Parents’ Needs: OH YES!
Please listen to the parents. Our needs change as the babies change. What we need on Monday may not be what we need on Tuesday. Listen to us. Ask us. Sometimes we will not know, but ask anyway. If we don’t know and you see a need, ask if it’s ok if you do so-and-so, and then do it. Having twins is hard, but probably harder than anything is the feeling that we aren’t independent anymore, like WE are the children again. We aren’t. We can do it, but it is just easier with help. Thank you so much ahead of time for respecting our need to feel capable to do this. I mean, we did survive a multiples pregnancy and birth! We can do this (there’s a little cheer for the MOMs reading this)!
6. Encouragement: PLEASE!
I really feel like this goes along with Listening to Parents’ Needs. We do NOT need you to tell us how you did XYZ with one baby (unless we ask). We do NOT need negativity of ANY kind (whether it is aimed at us or someone else). We need sincere, honest encouragement. If we choose to breastfeed, be our cheerleader. If we are able to go out with the babies to the mall, tell us how proud you are of us. If we took a shower for 3 days in a row, hire a marching band and start a parade. Please just be an honest encourager for us, no matter the choices we make. Keep your opinions to yourself. No, really, please do that. Don’t tell us how you or your cousin did it, whether she had one baby or 4. Tell US that we are doing it right and well. That’s what we need now more than anything. If we ASK, you can be honest (to a certain extent). Otherwise, keep your mouth shut, please!
So what do you think? Are there any tips that you new (or experienced) moms might give to those that want to help you out?