Expecting twins? Congratulations! Be ready for statements like: They are a double blessing, Aaaw how cute! They’re adorable! Your share of double trouble is too cute!
If you are way into the parenting journey you’ve already heard questions like, are they twins? How do you manage? When was the last time you slept?
Having twins is a double blessing indeed, but one that comes with its equal share of parenting challenges, that may not even be understood by singleton parents. Welcoming one child is a life changing event. Now imagine two! Nothing compared to the journey of raising them.
A LOT OT PRESSURE
Parenting is like taking a roller coaster ride, one moment it is all smooth sailing while the next you are riding on a rough tide.
Having two children at the same age comes with a lot of pressure, particularly in providing equal affection between the twins.
As a parent, you want to avoid the game of playing favourites by giving one twin an advantage over the other.
It can become an exhausting effort, ensuring that everyone gets to take their turn, receives a fair shake and an equal portion of everything.
“It becomes difficult to balance affection between twins based on their different needs at particular times. For example, one twin may be sick, and will need more attention than the other then. One may have special needs, and thus striking a complete balance becomes challenging sometimes,” says Prof Catherine Gachutha, a seasoned counseling psychologist, also director at Kenya Institute of Business and Counseling Studies, Nairobi.
“However,” she adds, “As a parent, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are doing your best to give equal attention to the twins. This is important because, although they are twins, they are also two different individuals, who need to develop their own autonomy.”
CREATE TIME FOR EACH TWIN
Although spending time with your children together is a wonderful way for everyone to bond, it is also vital to invest in some one-on-one time with each child.
“There will be times when you are able to give them equal time and attention. For example, you can play with them, feed them or bath them at the same time. But it is important to give them one on one time; so as to encourage them develop their own independence, and to also, as a parent, discover who they are, as individuals, and to encourage them along their individual paths,” says Prof Gachutha.
According to the psychologist, cultivating independence is essential among twins. Parents do not have to constantly be hovering over them entertaining them as they can also learn to be friends who appreciate and entertain each other.
“You can leave your twins to play together provided they are in a safe and conducive environment that is free of any risks.”
However, she adds that it is important to ensure that there is always someone watching over the kids even as they entertain themselves.
Prof Gachutha notes that parents with clingy twins can gradually cut off that clinginess by building confidence through experience
“As long as they are healthy and fine, you can start by leaving them for some time. These instances allow them to grow individually, as they also need to learn to be independent away from you.”
SUPPORT WHAT THEY LOVE
As they grow twins may develop different interests and may have different scheduled activities in school or even out of school. Showing interest in what your kids love is an important way of showing your affection.
“Listen to them even as they share their dreams and aspirations.
Make yourself available whenever they need you and encourage them to be the best that they can be. Supporting their individual interests allows them to feel loved and valued,” Prof Gachutha says.
While some parents consider separating their twins at an early age, Prof Gachutha advises that such a move should be well considered.
“There are twins who will want to go to different schools based on their interests. Others will not mind being in the same environment or in a particular school, so long as they are able to grow autonomously. Separation should be well considered, only when necessary,” she argues.
BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT MAKING COMPARISONS
Parents often compare their child’s development to other children and it can be tempting to do this with twins. Always remember that these are two individuals who may hit different milestones at different times. Be careful what you say to them as children are quite perceptive and can internalize what you say.
Twins can exhaust you, and temporarily drive you insane when demanding for your attention.
Train them to understand that there are times when they will have your full attention and times when they will not. Despite everything, enjoy the ride with all its tides, a small price to pay for all the joy they’ll bring to your life.
And you know what, the next time you might get triplets!