Twins Fighting and Housework Woes
By Cheryl Lage
My first question for you is...did your twins start fighting around ten months old? It seems like my son is constantly taking away toys from his sister, and I try to explain sharing and all that but it seems like an endless circle. When they really get going at it they will start screaming at each other and I've dealt with biting and hitting and kicking, the works. I thought ten months was too young for all that, but then I thought maybe it's common with twins being the same age. They get along great at times too and those are the kodak moments, but I just can't seem to enforce the concept of sharing and not taking away toys.
My other question is..how did you get any housework or other things
done in the early days?? I feel like I am constantly chasing after kids
all day. My husband helps out a lot but we just can't find time to get
anything other than the basic stuff done. I thought about a playyard
but I wasn't sure if that is a good thing to do or not. When I try to
get stuff done it seems like I turn around and one is crawling off in
one direction and the other in another! Hope to hear from you soon!!
I am so glad you emailed...please never hesitate to ask questions!
As you wisely observed, as twin moms, our questions/challenges ARE much different than those faced by our friends with singly-born children-----so by all means, please always know this Q&A option is more than open to you!
To address your questions:
*"Did your twins start fighting around ten months old?"
At right around seven months, ours started taking pacifiers out of each others' mouths; and so began our version of the saga you are experiencing now!
To my way of thinking, you are heading down the right path by attempting to explain sharing, and hopefully separating the two to a distance where they cannot physically interact/interfere with each other when things escalate. I wish I had better news, but the truth is, it not only feels like, but IS an endless circle of correction!
We all learn via repetition, and you will be doing quite a bit between now and at least age three (which is as far as I can testify to at this point.)
The reassurance I can provide, is that is if you remain 100% consistent in your responsive, corrective attitude, they WILL understand sooner as opposed to later. Whereas I am sure most will agree at 10 months, the ability to understand the concept of sharing is a bit difficult; your twins CAN certainly understand your tone, as well as being separated from one another, and/or the desired toy/object being removed from their hands. As their mental skills develop, they will begin to understand that Mommy has always responded negatively to certain behaviors, and hopefully, they'll begin to alter them to a more acceptable pattern.
To my way of thinking, it is a mistake to "tolerate" those unacceptable behaviors (and no response to a 10 month old=toleration) just because "they are too young to understand". By no means am I suggesting imposing time outs, or a major consequence at 10 months, but a firm "No!" and explanation/removal from situation is thoroughly appropriate, and in my opinion, mandatory.
Parenting twins when these kinds of situations occur can be excruciatingly demanding. Do your best to keep your eye on the prize; because the good news is, with each and every infraction, both twins hear the same consistent correction. Ideally, they'll learn twice as quickly from hearing the "discipline" twice as frequently!
If it makes you feel any better, as our children began going to playgroups and attending functions with numerous singleton children of the same age group, it honestly DID seem as though they had a better understanding of the fact that toys had to be "shared", and that grabbing/hitting/biting was not going to be well-received. Believe me, our twins weren't flawlessly behaved; but because they HAD to learn in our home how to resolve peer conflict (since they always have a peer to contend with 24/7), it wasn't as big a shock to them as it was to others when they couldn't always have what they wanted, when they wanted it.
At the very least, know that your experience is absolutely normal. Frustrating and deafeningly loud, yes, but normal! Stay the course. You seem to be doing the right thing.
So many parents think that if behaviors don't halt immediately, then their methods of correction "aren't working". At 10 months, it is just the stage for vigilant repetition. Hang in there!
To your next question:
*"How did you get any housework or other things done in the early days?"
In short, I didn't! Superficial housework like dusting went straight out the window. Day to day priorities change dramatically with even a single newborn in the house...with two? Fuggedaboutit! Laundry went up on the priority list, but other than that, try not to measure your "success" as a new twin mom by how tidily your house is maintained. BUT.....there are obviously things that you MUST take care of...for your household's well-being, for you & your family's health, and your personal sanity.
At the risk of drawing the ire of the politically-correct/"babies need eternal free-range"advocates, here's my soapbox moment: Playpens/playyards are WONDERFUL!!!!!
You need to pay bills. You need to do laundry. You need to prepare meals. Sometimes if things get too loud/stressful challenging, you need to step away. You need to pee on occasion, and maybe even shower.
Your ultimate responsibility is the safety of your children. Unless they are contained safely in an area where no harm can come to them (accept from each other ;) ), you endanger them each and every time you look away. You have enough stresses as a twin mom without having to move both of them to the bathroom every time you need to pee!
We incorporated use of the playpen into our daily schedule. Darren and Sarah were fed in the morning, and then they sat in their playpen (right smack in the middle of our living room---again, housekeeping, low priority!) with some toys and board books that lived there (and were rotated regularly) while hubby and I ate our breakfast.
Any time I needed to have a window of time to address a mandatory task, into the playpen they went. We used it from the time they could sit on their own (around 6-7 months) until we took it away at 18 months. They asked for it repeatedly once it was gone. As a matter of fact, they asked for the playpen far longer than they asked for their pacifiers when those were eventually taken away!
No, I am NOT saying they should be in a playpen/yard for a protracted/extended period of time. It is NOT a substitute for floor play interaction with mom, but a supplemental asssist to allow you peace of mind when you MUST address other aspects of being a wife and mom.
You know, all the arguments against playpens/yards seem so illogical to me. Why do we put babies in cribs? Because we as parents need the reassurance they will be safe during the night, while we, the parents, try to get whatever sleep we can. A crib is FAR more "cage-like" than a playpen or yard!
We have friends with 2-year old twins who still actively use their enormous playyard set alongside their dining room table, within sight line of the kitchen. While mom cooks dinner (or tends to whatever housework is necessary) the girls play and watch videos. They show no signs of "inhibited curiosity" or "limited desire to explore".
If you personally have a distaste for the idea, and feel it is "wrong", then by all means, don't use one. Every mom needs to be guided by her own conscience.
If you are feeling "guilt" imposed by those who are projecting their opinions/perspectives onto you; ignore 'em! You will feel saner, safer, and your twins will flourish....at least if our experience is any guide.
I can testify under oath, that although we made frequent use of the playpen, our twosome is as mobile and curious as they come...they have experienced no negative ramifications as a result of the usage of the oft-maligned "pen"!
If I missed your questions,or if you need further elaboration, please feel free to e-mail me back.
All the best, and you sound like a wonderful twin mom!
Congrats on your babies!
Feel free to contact me with your experiences in twin potty-training, or with any twin parenting dilemnas you may have at http://www.twinsights.com. I hope to hear from you!