Color coding my twins was one of the smartest systems I implemented when my duo were born. (It’s right up there with putting them on the same schedule.) When you assign an arbitrary color to each twin, and use that color for everything from bottles and sippy cups to binkies, blankies and tooth brushes, it takes the guesswork and a bit of the chaos out of the day-to-day messy minutia that twins often bring into a household.
How can it help? First, color coding your twins’ wardrobe is essential during the first few months as it’s a great way for you—and all others around you—to distinguish between your identical twins. Color code their clothes again when they enter school sharing the same classroom as it will help their teacher tell them apart. But older same-sex twins often appreciate color-coded clothes, too, since they never have to argue with their cotwin over whose favorite t-shirt is whose.
Color coding is a pure blessing when it comes to sorting the weekly laundry, especially if your family has several children, not just twins. No more guessing what belongs to whom. Lots of kids? Try adding the “dotting” system to generic clothing such as underwear and even blue jeans. With a permanent marker, just score one, two, or three dots on the inside label and then assign each child a numbered dot—one dot can be the oldest or the tallest; three dots can be the youngest or the shortest. And what about socks? Some families buy tube socks with one, two, and three stripes and then use the same system.
Although color coding is enormously helpful even as the kids get older (I always know whose backpack is left on the living room floor based on the color), some kids get very attached to their color causing a few problems. For instance, if you find a great winter coat on sale but it’s in the wrong twin color, and your twin is married to said color, you might as well keep walking. Even now at age 15, my twins still like to use “their color” and it can come back to bite me. (“I can’t wear that. It’s his color, not mine!”)
Still, the benefits to a young family with multiples outweigh the problems. Here are a few more tips to help you implement color coding into your family’s routine.
- Include a pattern to your coding for more shopping options as well as variety. For instance, “Twin A” can be red and heart shape; “Twin B” can take blue and squares. Or, assign each child two contrasting colors—one child gets red and blue, the other yellow and orange.
- Stick with primary and secondary colors such as red, yellow and blue or green, orange and purple but avoid unusual colors such as brown as you may not be able to find many items in that color.
- Make sure to let family and friends in on the color-coding system, too. It will help when they set out to buy birthday and holiday gifts for your twins.
- If you like the results of color coding, give Mom and Dad a color too.
- Remember tastes evolve—if your child would like to change colors, let her.
There’s no limit to the items that can be color coded: bath towels, personal files, and even a message board where every member of the family uses a different colored marker to notate appointments on the monthly calendar!
What items do you color code?