Twice the Trouble, but Twice the fun: One Nanny's Tips for Taking on Twins
I have taken care of an only child, siblings, and twins. Twins are by far the biggest handful and that’s simply because there are two. Now you’re probably thinking, “Well, what about two or three siblings?” When you have one older sibling they are more independent, rather than two children who are the same age and crawling in two different directions: one towards the stairs and one towards your coffee cup. You have to be on your toes constantly, but then again you’re never bored at work.
This is the second set of twins I have worked with. The twins I take care of now were two months old when I started and are now 20 months. The best part about twins is that they have each other. I love watching them interact with each other and they are now getting to the age where they can play together. What’s better than having a built in playmate? They light up my world and make going in to work everyday exciting! Don’t get me wrong some days I am more than ready to go home, especially because they’re close to the terrible two stage. So with all my experience, here are my top 5 tips for taking on twins.
Strategically position yourself in the playroom, at the park, or wherever you are so that you can see both the children and the exit. This way you can play with one of the children but still see the other if they try to make a break for it.
Treat the children as individuals. You don’t always have to go by the rule of treating all the children equally. Why would you? They’re all different; if one child needs a pacifier to calm down it doesn’t mean the other twin gets theirs too, even if they whine. Maybe one child is ready to learn climbing stairs, but their twin is working on a different milestone. Set the non-stair climber up with an activity, such as blocks, next to the stairs and then go up and down and up and down the stairs with the other. And don’t worry if one kid is ahead of the other physically or talking wise. If you only had one kid you wouldn’t have anyone to compare them too; so take a deep breath and stop worrying.
Don’t worry about the messes or you will stress yourself out. When they finger paint you can’t always catch them both when they accidently touch the wall with their red paint covered fingers. It will wash off. You have to know ahead of time that because there are two of them there is double the mess. Make sure if you are the caregiver that you talk to the parents ahead of time. Will they be super angry if you can’t get all the paint out of the rug or their child’s new outfit? Create a plan together and stick to it so that the children will learn the boundaries, such as stay on the tarp when doing art or when you are finished put your hands up and we can walk to the sink together. Kids like routine; they’ll catch on fast.
Know their individual strengths and use them to your advantage. If you are at the playground and they both want to go on the jungle gym, but at different stairs… What do you do? Well you know that twin one has better developed gross motor skills, so stick with twin two until she is up and then run over to twin one helping her to the top. Now you’re at playgroup and they are both pulling you to two different activities in the room. You can’t be in two places at once, so you remind yourself that twin two has more social skills. Alright so walk twin two over to her station and get her interacting with another child, then off you go with twin one to her interest area. You can work with her to learn how to play with the peers at her activity.
Always make extra food at naptime when there aren’t children hanging on you. Try to make everything from scratch so you aren’t feeding processed food to the children, but know that also means it takes more of your time. So, you are going to make sweet potato pureed baby food, applesauce, or steamed cut up beats. Make enough for the week and extra to freeze. This will make meal times much easier when you just have to warm up pre-homemade food. Use that naptime wisely!
There you have it! With experience you can learn so much more, so jump in and remember these tips. After over three years of twin experience, I am still learning. Those little kiddos keep me moving AND LAUGHING twice as much! Take the challenge, get your hands dirty, and take on twins.