OK, maybe taming is a bit harsh but for me, the toddler years were challenging. Sure, most toddler twins are finally sleeping through the night—a big plus from the days when they woke up at least a half dozen times a night. And yes, they are darn cute at that age, too, with their chubby little arms and legs, wet kisses, and insatiable curiosity.
But make no mistake—they are exhausting! They have an abundance of energy. From the moment they open their eyes in the morning to the second their heads hit the pillow at night, they’re in constant motion, and often moving in completely different directions.
So how do you tame those twin tykes without squelching their budding independence and need to explore?
For me, it came down to two things. First, I made my home toddler-safe both inside and outside so that they could roam and play at will without my constant interruption and direct supervision. Second, I joined an active play group where the kids got their fill of physical fun and I got the support of other moms. When we were on the go, busy playing at the park or someone’s home, it dramatically cut down on the boredom, theirs and mine, and subsequently, the whining. (Again—theirs and mine!)
Making Your Home Safe for Toddler Twins
As your twins get older, you may get more complacent, perhaps leaving them alone in their play room while you take a quick shower. But don’t fool yourself! Toddler twins are not only curious but they often team up to get into all kinds of mischief. Oh, the stories that I’ve heard from the barefoot mom whose toddler twins locked her out of the house during a snowstorm to the mom whose boy-girl toddlers wanted to make an indoor swimming pool by dumping water in Mom’s walk-in closet. My own duo had their moments as well. For instance, one morning I walked into our backyard to water a few garden plants, leaving the kids alone inside to watch TV. When I came back just a few minutes later, they were both underneath the kitchen table on all fours, pretending to be dogs lapping up Cheerios and milk splashed across the floor. How did they go from quietly watching TV to making a mess of the floor? How did they reach the milk in the refrigerator or the cereal way up in the cupboard?
I’ll never know. But the message was clear—I needed to carefully reconsider how my house was set up. I took a tour toddler-style, literally on my hands and knees to see my house from their point of view and made some changes. I swapped out a heavy, leaded antique lamp in the living room, for instance, for a cheaper and lighter one. I removed knickknacks from all tables, too. Dangerous cleaning products, prescription medication, bathroom toiletries and even my handbag were moved to higher ground and placed out of sight. I checked their toys regularly for broken or sharp edges and I always made sure each and every chair was pushed in completely to the table to avoid them from climbing up.
Although baby-proofing my home gave me some peace of mind, nothing took the place of good, old-fashioned diligence.
Keep Your Toddler Twins Active
Although I was a stay-at-home mom in those days, I rarely liked to stay home. That’s where Tip #2 comes in.
I found that my boys were happier and more cooperative when they were actively engaged outside of our home. Getting out of the house on a regular basis to meet up with a play group not only saved my sanity but allowed my twins some social interaction with someone other than their cotwin. Plus, they were so tired by the time we got home that they slept like champs!
But not all parks are alike (nor are all play groups). Oh, no. I had my standards and it took trial and error before I found a park and a group that I liked. My favorite is Lacy Park, a 30-acre oasis in San Marino, a tony neighborhood adjacent to Pasadena. Not only does it have state-of-the-art play equipment, a wide, paved circular bike trail perfect for casual riding, and a large grassy area for free play, it’s gated! Yup, the entire park is surrounded by a ten-foot high wrought-iron fence. What a sanity-saver as I never had to worry that my kids would run out in the middle of the street. Although once when they ventured a bit too far from where I was sitting, I turned around to see that one boy had gotten his head caught between the bars of the gate. I thought he was just looking out at the street beyond as I couldn’t hear his crying. It was only when a truck driver stopped to try to help from the other side that I knew something was wrong. Oops.
Finding a play group that fits your lifestyle may take a bit of work. You can start by contacting your local Mothers of Twins Club or try Playgroup Meetup, a website that matches zip codes to local groups. Or, do what I did and start one of your own. You don’t need to solicit just moms of twins, either. Anyone with young kids willing to hang out will do! Advertise through word of mouth, your pediatrician’s office, church or even the local elementary school.
The toddler years are indeed an exciting time for you and your twins if you can just get through them in one piece! Luckily, there are plenty of other moms in your exact same situation. And as we all know, there’s strength in numbers.