I often get asked if having twins is overwhelming, or how hard it is to care for twins. Or if I'm not asked those specific questions, I'm told "I could never do that! You're super mom!" And as much as I love hearing that I am, in fact, super mom, because, let's be honest, sometimes IIIIIII even wonder how I'm doing it...I've found that there is one very, VERY, important secret to taking care of twins (or just any children, really): TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST.
What? Did I just say that? Take care of yourself FIRST? How unbelievably selfish of me.
But I'm more serious about that than anything I could ever tell you.
My twins turn two today; two whole years. I'd like to think that I've done a pretty great job at handling the twin thing; I carried them so long that I had to be induced (meaning they were good-sized twins), they slept through the night at seven weeks old, I breastfed them for 15 months even though I swore I would be done the SECOND they turned one (because breastfeeding TWO babies is NO JOKE), and I kept two babies ALIVE for two years. But, let's be real. Until I finally figured out how to take care of MYSELF, did I ever figure out how to actually take care of my twins.
When I was pregnant with my twins, my husband got a new job in a different state: Washington. We lived apart for a while, him living with my parents, and me staying behind in Utah. Finally, because I wouldn't be able to travel soon, I moved to the same state as him, and moved in with my parents. Once I did, our house finally sold (in Utah), and we both went back to get all of our stuff out. Then, we returned to my parents with no place of our own. SAD DAY. Eventually, the twins were born, and we lived with my parents until we got our own place.
The hardest thing about having my babies in a completely different place than I'm used to is that nothing is the same. Nothing is comfortable. And when all of your stuff is packed in boxes, and there is NO WHERE to unpack it, you don't have anything you're used to having either. It makes finding a routine a little more complicated. And it makes enjoying your babies particularly difficult; I couldn't design the perfect twin nursery, I couldn't utilize all of my stuff how I wanted, etc.
Later, we bought a short sale, and started remodeling it. But very soon after we started the remodel, my husband got a new job in a new state (Nevada). This sped up the remodel process like crazy so we could go ahead and sell the house. Talk about not being settled. We would work until 5 a.m., get three hours of sleep, and get right back at it. It was torture. When I think about it, I get anxious. Ha. So, basically, we weren't unpacking anything, AGAIN, because we'd be moving. He worked in Nevada, while I finished the remodel, took care of everybody, and packed up the house.
After getting everything ready to move, my husband decided he hated his job, and wanted his old job back. He was able to get it back, and moved back to Washington. And what did I do? I started trying to get settled, and actually unpack our stuff so we could actually LIVE here. Because, let's face it, living with your parents is not living, and living in a remodel is NOT living. So I've unpacked stuff for the first time in two years, and I started getting a good routine back.
That routine adds in time for ME. Time for me to exercise, time for me to get back to doing things I love, time for me to take a guitar class just because I want to learn something new, and time for me to train for triathlons again. It also gives me time to enjoy my kids and my husband more. Because I'm taking care of myself first, I'm able to be a better mom and take care of them. You may think this sounds exhausting because who has time for anything extra in their life, but I assure you, you NEED it.
It's something I don't think you can accurately explain until you've felt it; until you've been in that place where you're not settled, that nothing you do makes life feel fun or worth living. It always feels like you're waiting for the next thing to happen, instead of living in the moment. It feels like the days are always the same, with no end in sight. And even though I sometimes still feel that way (we know we want to move back to Utah, but have to find the right job there), it's so much better than it was. And what do I attribute this to? Finding MYSELF. Taking the time to know me. Taking the time to understand how I work, and what makes me happy.
I always come back from a run, BY MYSELF, energized and ready to tackle the day. I'm less anxious, and more able to deal with any tantrum my twins throw. I'm more loving, patient and understanding when I take time to do something for me.
As selfish as that sounds, it is so true, and you should NEVER feel like it's selfish. Think about when you're on a plane. They always tell you to put on YOUR oxygen mask first, and then the child's. It's the same thing. If you don't take care of yourself, if you don't go out for that run that clears your mind, or shower and get dressed for the day, or spend some time doing your hair so you feel pretty...if you don't take the time to do those things for you, how do you think you can take care of anybody else? And how will your kids understand how they are supposed to treat themselves if you don't treat yourself well?
So mamas, get out there! Do what you love! Find yourself, treat yourself, spend an hour away from your kids and get that pedicure you've desperately needed, or buy yourself a little something, something! There is no shame in taking care of you first. And take it from me, it's a lot more important than you'll ever realize. Really.
*The “Two to Kiss, Two to Love” series is a helpful series for all you twin mamas out there! If you have a twin related question, comment below, and I’ll answer it for you!*