“I don’t know how you do it.” is a phrase I hear almost as often as “Are they twins?” (Yes.) or “Are they identical?” (No…really, they’re not…yes, I’m sure.). My standard response is “I just do what I have to do.” Maybe it seems like I have a lot going on with twins, but I can’t imagine having higher-order multiples or one singleton (or more!) AND twins. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s probably much like how I do it:
A lot of coffee
A lot of wine, cheap wine
Contouring, especially when your face is the exact shape of a basketball
A lot of emphasis on sharing with each other, direct communication, and no tolerance for violence
Accept that an ungodly amount of your income will be spent on snacks
A lot of laughter
A little yelling (define “little”)
Not overscheduling, because we’re all happier when life is more relaxed
An amazing, responsible, thoughtful partner
Routines, so they know what to expect and what is expected: morning, dinnertime, bedtime
Explain everything so they don’t have a chance to ask why
Early bedtime–6:30 when they were babies, 7:30-8:00 from preschool on so that us parents can have some downtime before it’s time to sleep
Insistence on asking politely instead of demanding and whining
Lowered expectations for keeping up with housework
Date nights when the kids sleep over at grandparents’ house or when someone can come over for a few hours
A job with a flexible schedule, where no one cares if you are a few minutes late or leave a few minutes early
Drive-through coffee shops
House rules and consequences that are actually, consistently carried out when the rules are broken
Chocolate, preferably dark and readily available
Shag carpeting that hides all crumbs and dirt (and unfortunately also Legos)
A chocolate chip will always help an owie feel better faster.
Family activities that aren’t exclusively what the kids would like, because it’s our life to enjoy too
Baths ~twice/week because I’m (getting) old(er) and my back often hurts
Small lessons in responsibility, like how they should clean up the playroom because they made the mess, not me
Explaining with honesty that there are some things we cannot do because of the fact that they are twins, e.g., going to a crowded place like the Children’s Museum when there is only one adult to two kids.
Getting out and spending time with girlfriends
Taking a walk as a family to get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air
Talking a walk alone
Listening to their stories and laughing at their jokes
Velcro shoes (for them)
Did I already say coffee?
Costco, because bulk shopping means we have to go out less and having a four-and-a-half pound bag of chocolate chips on hand can’t be wrong
Dry shampoo and Amika: Un.Done Texture Spray
Asking for help. This is very hard if you’re introverted and self-sufficient, but real-life parenting is something you can’t do alone without breaking. I encourage my kids to ask for help whenever they need it, and it’s a lesson for adults too. The second part of this is to accept help when it is offered. Yes, you may come over and help with laundry. Yes, you may bring us a meal. This was so helpful when we had two newborns and no clue if we were doing anything right.
Playdates. I’m happy to host another kid for a few hours because I know it’s great for that kid’s mom and/or dad to have a break. To go to Target alone. To catch up on housework. To spend rare solo time with another kid. To take a nap. To read a magazine. To binge-watch Jessica Jones. And in most cases, it’s reciprocated, and I enjoy the kid-free time.
Taking care of myself. So often, a mother puts everyone and everything else first. A happy, healthy mommy is one of the best influences my kids can have in their young, impressionable lives. So, I get massages (Greg at The Haven Spa is THE BEST). I sing out loud. I practice yoga. I quit stressful jobs. I light candles and take long, hot baths. I bake. I order Thai take-out. I write. I practice a good skincare routine. I don’t apologize for something that is not my fault, and I don’t say yes to something I don’t want to do or that will make me feel bad/stressed/pressured/frantic later. These last two items are my 2017 New Year’s Resolutions, and now that Q1 is coming to an end, I can say proudly that I have stuck by them.
So that, in a rather large nutshell, is how I do it. That is how I get by day to day, week to week, and find joy in the chaos.