Stay-at-Home Moms of Twins Need Support…or a Job

When I recently read a new report that found working moms, in particular those working part-time, are healthier and have fewer symptoms of depression than those who stay home with their kids full-time, it didn’t surprise me. Although I’m a big supporter of one parent staying home while the kids are little, I also know firsthand that it can sometimes be lonely, isolating, and with twins, a lot of hard work. During the ten+ years that I was a full-time mom, there were many days when I questioned my decision.

When I found out I was pregnant with twins I was working at a travel magazine. The commute was long and the pay was low but I loved my job. It was creative and fulfilling. After I gave birth, I took a long maternity leave but when I finally returned to work when my boys were four months old, I didn’t last long. The pull to be home with my babies was just too strong. Luckily, my husband had just started a new job with a decent paycheck so we could swing the change financially.

So I quit my job and the next day I officially became a full-time mom. I was truly home alone. All day. With two infant twins.

I didn’t take long for me to realize that my Ozzie and Harriet dream didn’t match the reality. Don’t misunderstand—I loved being with my boys and watching them grow but there were many days where I was lonely. Very lonely. I’m missed the day-to-day interaction with other adults. I missed the creativity that working outside the home offered. Further complicating the issue were the demands of two babies. Learning to nurse, bathe and put two down for a nap at the same time—by myself, no less—took practice and patience. None of my other girlfriends were around for moral support and companionship as they were all working full-time. Ditto for extended family. Even my neighborhood was a vast ghost town from nine to five. (I remember once when I lost power in my home, I walked outside to see if it was widespread. As I stood in the street and looked from house to house, I realized that I’d never get my answer as no one else was around. It was a sobering moment.)

sleeping newborn twinsAnd there in lies the difference between my mother’s generation and mine. My mom had a huge social network of friends all with children around the same age. They frequently met at the local pool in summer or New York City in the winter where they’d take advantage of free cultural events. Even my mother-in-law talks about her thriving Southern California suburban neighborhood back in the mid-1960s when most women stayed home with their kids and the streets were always abuzz with activity. The neighborhood ladies got together often, corralling the kids in play yards or the backyard, and held pot-luck lunches and even played a few hands of cards. There was never time to feel melancholy—if you felt lonely or blue, you headed next door for a cup of coffee and some fellowship.

But unlike my mom and my mother-in-law, I had a career prior to becoming a mom so I knew what I was missing. For me—a very social person—I knew that if I didn’t get out of the house on a regular basis with my twins (and without), I would begin to feel trapped. So I got out. Often. I never shied away from taking my kids anywhere when they were young. From the supermarket to kid-friendly museums, we were constantly on the go from the time they were six weeks old. I also had a schedule of regular outings so I’d always have something to look forward to—Monday was errand day (in the supermarket, I employed the “two shopping cart” technique where I’d pull one and push the other), Tuesday was play group, Wednesday was library story time (I shopped around until I found the cream of the crop complete with craft and snack), with the help of a local college student who baby-sat a few hours every week, Thursday was “me time,” and Friday was excursion day (museums, picnic lunches with dad at a local park near his office, and even a last-minute dash out to the desert to see the Space Shuttle land). It was all these activities that kept me sane and focused on raising (and loving) my boys.

So if you’re pregnant with twins and thinking about staying home full-time should you change course and head back to the office? Absolutely not. The benefits to your kids are too great. Instead, try adjusting your expectations and be proactive in crafting your destiny. To help you get started, follow these tips.

  • Build a network of support. Join a play group or Mother’s of Twins Club. Even before your babies are born, check out the options in your neighborhood and make an effort to connect with other moms. Interacting with others in the same stage of life as yourself is enormously beneficial to your overall mental well-being.
  • Use social networking to reach out to other parents. Join Facebook, Google+ or blog. Hit the twin message boards at TWINS Magazine and Twiniversity.
  • Find your passion. For you it may be singing, music or art. For me, it was writing. And fortunately, when my boys were about six months old, a publisher contacted me looking for a writer to pen a book about twins. (I was lucky. In those days, with the twin explosion just about underway, publishers were scrambling to get books written on the subject, and the creative process involved in writing Double Duty was extremely fulfilling.)
  • Find a part-time baby-sitter, mother’s helper, family friend or relative who can come over on a regular basis so that you can get out of the house.
  • Invest in a double stroller like the BOB Sport Utility Duallie and take your twins out for a daily stroll. Exercising on a regular basis will not only help get rid of your postpartum belly but it also stimulates chemical changes in your brain to help improve your mood!
  • Find a part-time job. According to the report, women who work part-time had the best of both worlds—they reported fewer symptoms of depression during their children’s infancy and preschool years than moms who didn’t work outside the home. Furthermore, part-timers reported less conflict between work and family than mothers who work full-time as the former were more free to engage in their children’s school life.
  • Never say never. Develop a can-do attitude and you can tackle the world…with your twins right by your side!

 

28 thoughts on “Stay-at-Home Moms of Twins Need Support…or a Job

  1. PureBebe Heather

    Although I don’t have twins, I can completely relate. I’m home with my kids two days/week solo and even then there are days when I question my decision. Now I love my kids to bits, but it’s HARD work, especially when they begin to talk back, etc. Fortunately, two of my neighbors are full-time stay-at-home moms, so I reach out to them. A lot. And it’s always nice to know who to call to have impromptu play dates. My kids are always much happier when they have friends to play with rather than digging into the play doh themselves.

    1. carrie

      I have 10 month old twins and a 2 1/2 year old that I stay home with every day plus my two school aged children who are 8 and 14. Everything you wrote is my life. I get very lonely as my husband works long hours and I have no friends or neighbors that are home during the day. I even do the grocery thing except I do it with 1 carriage and my double stroller. :) I also try to get out as much as I can although it is hard lately to find things for my 2 year old as the twins dont want to be strapped in their strollers right now and she isnt old enough to do craft things by herself. Since we live in MA it has been dangerously cold lately so I have been going stir crazy in the house. Sometimes we just go to the mall just to walk around. I cant wait for spring as the twins will be a bit older and we can dtart going on some outdoor adventires. Thank you so much for writing this as it makes me feel I am not a bad mom for doubting myself for opting to stay home or for feeling so lonely. I am a social butterfly as well.

      1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof Post author

        Hang in there! Motherhood is a tough job, especially when you have little support. Keep reaching out. MA is a huge twins state–are you involved with your local Mothers of Twins Club? They could really offer you support and comfort. But most of all, try to live in the moment. I wrote that post two years ago when my twins were just sophomores in high school; they’re now seniors talking about college and leaving home. Trust me–the time goes by VERY fast. I hated when people used to say that to me while I was in the thick of toddlerhood so I apologize!

        1. carrie

          It certainly is tough but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, like your post says sometimes the lack of adult interaction makes it lonely. My first born daughter started her freshman year this year so I know how quickly it goes. I tried to reach out to the twins club in my area to find out about meetings and such however every attempt has been met with no response. It has been a while so I will try again. Thank you for post and advice. I don’t know anyone with twins.

  2. Anne

    I’m about at my wit’s end here. While I do belong to a Mother of Twins group, I live about 40 minutes on average away from the majority of the people. I really needed this article today :) Thanks!

      1. Anne

        I tell you, those monthly meetings are a brain saver!! I’m thinking I need to hire someone for a couple hours a week so that I can work at our business and not have to take the kids in with me. I can totally understand why part time working moms are more mentally healthy :)

  3. Kai Scribe

    Just like some of your other comments have said, I don’t have twins but I have a 3month old baby and although I’m not due to go back to work for another 9 months … it’s just not an option for me! I don’t want to leave him at all and so find myself working even harder to try and build a situation for myself, where financially I don’t have to…

    I totally relate to not wanting to leave them!

  4. DestinationHome

    Wow! Thank you for this post as I really needed to hear that other women share my feelings of isolation & sadness. We don’t have any family in-state & are really struggling financially with the one income in CT. It has been so hard! And I feel so guilty for feeling that way. I need to find ways to get out more & now that I have the twins on one nap/day, we can go to the free library programs (thank God). I, too left a challenging & creative career to raise my babies, and I have found staying at home far harder than anything I have done before. I don’t know how women of previous generations managed to keep their houses clean and put hot food on the table every night while looking pretty & pu together. I just can’t manage! Just keeping my kitchen clean after all the kids’ meals seems to be daunting & if I manage to keep it neat & clean, then I feel like I haven’t spent enough time playing with/teaching the twins that day. I also feel like my patience is so short some days & wonder if my children might be better off in daycare. It’s amazing how much guilt you feel as a new mother, especially with twins. Thank you for making me feel validated & not crazy. Do you think I can get my husband to read this ;)

    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

      Never feel guilty! Your feelings have nothing to do with your desire to be with your kids. You need some support! Keeping working at ways in which you can make your situation better. It will come to you.

  5. Rebecca

    I just wrote about this very thing before Christmas…it can be so ISOLATING! I miss my job. I loved my job. I do want to go back sometimes, but I made this commitment to my kids and I’m just not ready (after much reflection and thought about possibly going back).

    I do tutor part-time and it does give me time away.
    I do go to the gym 3x a week and it does give me time away.
    I do use a babysitter and it does give me time away.

    I need time away for my sanity…and to maintain theirs!

  6. Denny

    Sometimes it the father that gets the stay home position! As a stay at home dad to twins and a 10 year old, I can definately relate! All my buddies are working and I don’t feel like men get the same treatment as their counterparts that are a full time parent. While I have a wonderful support system of family and internet twins clubs I wish there was something just for guys!!! Sorry, but the twins clubs are full of mommys and as a happily married father this kinda leaves out sometimes:(

  7. jocelynmercer@gmail.com

    Thank you for this validation. My girls are 14 months, for months after they were born I thought things would get easier as they got older, but it just seems new challenges are presented. While I love my girls to bits, I have never felt so isolated and lonely, the simple dynamics of getting around and visiting makes two so much harder than one, plus living 1,200 miles from nearest family and good friends sucks. I sometimes get scared by the level of frustration and anger I have experienced since having the girls, thank goodness we have a soundproof basement so I can scream my heart out without the neighbours thinking I am totally mental.
    My biggest recommendation for people discovering they are due to have multiples is to not underestimate the value of family and good friends. If I had known this before we would definitely have set things up so that we were living closer to support. Unfortunately right now, that’s not an option.

    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

      My heart (and understanding) goes out to you. It was definitely the lack of day-to-day interaction with adults that got to me. It got MUCH better once they hit preschool as I loved helping out in their classroom and just having a few more hours to myself. Hang in there…you’re almost there!

    2. DestinationHome

      My anger & frustration levels ( as well as resentment) are very high, too. I don’t know if it’s part of the PPD I have or just the extreme life change and learning curve after a rather scary and difficult pregnancy . . . . My husband & I go to church now (our one hour of free therapy) & man, do we need it. I love my children more than I could ever describe, but this has been a major challenge (& sometimes a heartache) on many levels. We moms of multiples really need each other!

  8. Natalie

    Another great article Christina! It’s refreshing to know we all feel that same way! Seriously, these are things we might not talk about, but you put them out there for us…thanks for starting this discussion.
    Nat

  9. MandyE

    This is such a great article. While I always planned to stay home with my children, until the day my twin girls were born, I worked full time. I had been extremely career-oriented for eight years, and I quickly realized – particularly having moved several times with my job – I really didn’t know anyone locally outside of the business world.

    Couple that with the demands of multiple infants…when even going to the post office takes major planning…and, for many MoMs, orders from the doctor to keep premature babies out of public for X weeks or months…and a new MoM can easily feel isolated.

    I’m so thankful to have found a group of moms – all mothers of multiples, actually – many of whom I now consider amazing friends. It’s important for me to get out and about…and it’s important for my girls, too.

    I also underscore the importance of a double stroller! Once I got the green light from the pediatrician to leave the house, and got a little more comfortable with the logistics, even a trip to the post office could do a mama good. :)

  10. Paola Scilinguo-Mendoza

    Thanks for this article! I used to work full-time before I had my twin boys, who are now 3 and a half. I went back to work when they were 5 months old, I was blessed to have such a long maternity leave and to found a nanny that would stay home with them while I went back to work. Shortly before their first birthday our nanny had to leave so the boys went to daycare, and so it began our oddissey. They were both sick the first week they were there and 3 weeks later ended up in the hospital and were diagnosed with asthma. Having two babies with asthma and doing breathing treatments every 4 hours, even in the middle of the night, not an easy thing to do! We were exhausted! Their pediatrician said we had to take them out of daycare, so we made the decision that I would sty home with them. It was a bitter-sweet decision, but the right one. Though I soon realized that being home with them was a 24 hr job! And I was by my self, all my girlfriends worked and both my and my husband’s families live in Mexico, so I was alone, and it was hard at first being with them when they were sick and not being able to dedicate all my attention to just one of them, I still struggle with that. Luckily I have a wonderful and very supportive husband, so we’ve managed, after a very difficult year and a half, to have an “organized” home and concentrate on getting the boys what they need to be healthy and happy. And in the process I learned that I need to take care of myself if I want to be the mom I want to be and the mom they need me to be. I do miss the adult interaction, but I try to be in touch with all my friends and multiples mom groups so I can have support.

  11. Vanessa

    I feel like I’m going crazy! I have 9 month old twin boys and 6 year old daughter. I feel so isolated, once my fiance takes my daughter to school he also takes the car to school/pt work but he is always gone! It’s so frustrating for me! My family is also busy with FT work. I have no supportand it’s very hard for me to enjoy any part of the day! We have little money which makes are situtation more frustrating. I don’t have time to evan shower on a daily basis…..please help!

    1. Christina Baglivi Tinglof

      It will get better. You just need to reach out to women in your neighborhood. Have you been online to NOMOTC to see if there’s a local twins group in your area? Those moms have been through it all and can not only offer moral support but often they have playgroups. For me, just getting out of the house (even with all the kids) on a regular basis really helped. Going for a walk, hanging out in the park, even strolling through the local mall greatly improved my mood. And there’s no money involved!

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