Updated February 2021 – Originally published in Life in Multiples and TWINS Magazine 2016
COVID-19 Update: All of the advice below was originally written and published prior to COVID-19. While many of these strategies still apply, please take into account COVID-19 regulations, policies, and advice.
I recently had lunch with a friend whose little guy is 10 weeks old. First, let me say that I must have blocked out this age because I don’t remember the girls being that small. I also had absolutely no desire to hold him which I guess answers the lingering question of having more children.
All joking aside, she was commenting on how I put her to shame because I had two at the same time. “I have no idea how you do it!” …is a common statement I’m sure many multiple moms hear. Instead of making me feel like a mutant though, it makes me feel like a superhero. Because I am doing it. It may not be pretty, but I’m doing it. Here’s how—no judgement please.
- Don’t separate laundry. Don’t separate colours, don’t keep the kids’ stuff separate from the grown-ups or the towels. Just wash it all. In cold water. Done.
- If it isn’t dryer-friendly, get rid of it. Then it all goes from the washer to the dryer. Enough said.
- Don’t spray, pre-treat, soak, or use other stain fighting methods. Throw in some colour-safe bleach (for sensitive skin), Oxy for babies, or some other product with your detergent and call it a day.
- Don’t buy or use white (or light yellow) clothing for the kids. It will stain and it’s not worth the hassle of stain fighting (see #3 above).
- Feed the kids the cleanest foods for breakfast and lunch so there’s no changing needed and save the messy stuff for dinner. They will be changing into their jammies soon anyways so that’s that.
- Let them eat with their fingers. Fewer dishes. Let the dogs clean up the leftovers. Use baby wipes for cleanup (see #8 below).
- The less food preparation the better. Anything you can eat raw, room temperature, frozen even, do it.
- Baby wipes. For everything.
- If you have pets, let them clean up the mess from the kids. Why not? My rule is that once it hits the floor it’s fair game.
- What doesn’t kill them makes them stronger. They will have strong immune systems if things aren’t perfectly clean.
- Keep a storage bench or ottoman in your living room to put all the toys into at the end of the day.
- Baths are highly overrated. They are stressful for everyone in the beginning and really not necessary (see #8 above re: baby wipes).
- Sleepers are okay for the first year all day every day. Change when needed but don’t feel you have to unless they are covered in poop, pee, or spit up. Milk it (pun intended) for as long as you can. Sleepers are also okay anytime for doctor’s visits. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. So much easier.
- Sleepers with zippers. When you’re doing everything two or three times (or more!) and your child doesn’t want to be changed, zippers will change your life. Fun fact, did you know some sleepers have 17 snaps?
- I have become a night shower-er. After the girls go to bed, I shower. Then I put on something somewhat sporty that acts as both pajamas and an outfit for the next day. Minimal changing necessary. Less laundry.
- Don’t disturb a perfectly happy child. They will learn to amuse themselves and play with each other. And you can do dishes or drink your coffee.
- Don’t try to keep your kids’ things separate. Bottles, soothers, toothbrushes, clothes. Until they are old enough to do this themselves, it’s just easier. Another story when they are sick but if they are well…
- Let them nap together in the playpen during the day while they are small enough. This accomplishes a few things: gets them used to ambient noise, fewer trips up and down stairs or back and forth to nursery and allows them to learn to distinguish between day and night, all encouraging healthy sleep habits for later.
- Frozen washcloths are a saving grace when babies are teething. Keep a bunch of baby washcloths on hand, get them wet, wring them out, and put in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. I kept four in there at all times so there were always two back up washcloths after the first ones melted. They are a great distraction even when they’re not teething and just fussy.
- Order whatever you can online provided that you get free shipping. Anytime you don’t have to run out is a blessing. Then you can choose to if you’re up to it.
Top Things Absolutely Worth Acquiring:
- Playpen/yard with change table attachment. If you can, create two changing stations, one in the nursery and one in the living room (only necessary if they are on separate floors). Makes life much easier. Also keep a few clean onesies or sleepers in the living room so you don’t have to run to the nursery in case of leakage.
- Swaddlers. Saved our lives. Velcro is awesome because who can figure out how the nurses wrap the babies up so tight. Not only that but every nurse does it differently and then you have no clue what you’re doing.
- Multiple strollers. Get them used or whatever but the tandem for the bucket car seats and the side-by-side jogger are my lifesavers. I also have two separate umbrellas for crowded places when I have another adult. I am not quite addicted to strollers, but one more might put me over the edge. Makes life so much easier when you have the right one for the right purpose.
- Baby gates. Lots of them. I baby proofed the entire main floor. Once they started moving, I gated them in the living room as an expanded playpen. Then, when that started to frustrate them and they were sturdy enough to explore, I took that down and gated the stairs so they could explore the whole main level safely and I wouldn’t have to try chasing after them both. It’s worth the peace of mind and efficiency. I do leave my Tupperware cupboard and pots and pans available for play and sometimes give them fun utensils like wooden spoons, measuring cups, etc. to play with while I’m cooking. They inevitably make their way into the kitchen if I’m there…
- Playmats, exercisers, jolly jumpers, swings, bouncy chairs. Who knows which of these your baby will like, but four out of five of these were amazing for my girls. Things that you can strap them into and go to the washroom or have a shower are amazing (I took them right in the bathroom in their bouncy chair for showers).
- White noise machine. Loved this. Helped to create the womb-like environment they talk about (see #2 about swaddling above) and we still use it to keep them used to some ambient noise and to hide any other noises that might be distracting. It has definitely helped make them decent sleepers.
Top Things Not Worth Acquiring:
- A full highchair. The strap on kind (Fisher Price) is much cheaper, still comes with a tray, has the recline feature, and works just as well. It also takes up less room.
- Snowsuits for the first winter. Jolly Jumper makes an awesome cover for bucket car seats. It slips overtop, keeps the baby toasty warm, and there’s no bundling/unbundling necessary.
- Bassinet. I didn’t find this to be necessary. We just went right to the crib to save the money and the transitioning. The girls shared a crib for the first four months or so but were in their own room from day one. It works well if you can get away with it…not all babies cooperate.
- Bottle warmer. Don’t get started doing something that you don’t want to keep up. This is an extra step that, if you can skip and serve at room temperature, will be much better. Likewise, wipe warmer. Unless your baby has the kind of diaper rash that makes you cringe when you see their bum, don’t worry about it.
- Baby bathtub. Didn’t last long enough to make it worthwhile. The tub sling/chair is a much better option because it lasts until they can sit in the tub on their own.
- Bumbo. These seemed like a great idea, but in reality, the girls hated them, and they didn’t last very long because their legs were too chubby to fit.
So, there you have it. These are my ever-evolving rules for survival. Take what you can, discard what you can’t, and do what you have to do. The easier you make things for yourself, the more time and capacity you’ll have to actually enjoy your little ones and maintain your sanity. Take it from someone who was formerly a neat/clean freak and is still learning all the time how to let things go.