Ask the experts

By Published On: March 15th, 2016

A: You’re part of an elite group of moms and […]

A: You’re part of an elite group of moms and dads of multiples—the special forces of parenthood. The intensity of the boot camp period with two babies will leave you with a strength and pride that will spill over into everything else. I have three practical tips for the early weeks and months at home with twins—what I sometimes call “the emergency stage.” Its chaos can be triaged if you have support, schedules and sleep. First, seek support. If you have family and friends nearby, don’t hesitate to accept help. If a postpartum doula is in your budget, it is money that will be well spent. If possible, join your local twins club—these fellow Navy Seals of nurturance are incredible resources for moral, emotional and tactical support. If you aren’t near a chapter, many of the twin-related online forums are also fantastic. Second, establish a routine. This means that your twins should eat, sleep and play at the same times, in set intervals—often three-hour cycles in the beginning. (Your pediatrician will be able to advise you.) Once you have your system, expect that it may break down. Revise and tweak it accordingly, but keep at it. Back to that special forces idea: You go into your twin-parenting day with detailed intel, but even the best-laid battle plan might not play out with your babies. If you parent with a partner, figure out a system together. Whenever you can, try taking shifts. Without a schedule and without shifts, you risk a situation where no one is asleep, ever. As a new mom or dad of twins you probably already understand why that must not be. So keep aiming for a handling of time that includes horizontal periods with your eyelids closed—which brings me to my final tip … third, sleep. When large swaths of it are impossible, practice the rapid strike nap: Get in; get out. Make it a priority, your ultimate form of self-care. Above all, know that it does get easier. And you’ll be amazed at the love and joy that emerges from it all.
Our new baby just arrived, and it seems she brought tons of paperwork with her. What records do I need to keep, and what can I pitch? A: High-five to you for considering this question before you end up with piles of paper clutter and are unable to find your child’s vaccination records when it’s time to register for summer camp! The first step is to decide whether you are going to have a paper or digital system for filing. If you choose digital, be sure to have a backup. If you choose paper, be sure to store crucial records in a fireproof place. Here’s what you need to hang on to: ‘ Birth certificate. ‘ Medical records, including: • Newborn records. Visit to see what tests are required in your state, and request a copy. • Medical consent forms. These allow other caregivers the right to seek medical treatment in case of emergency. • Medical history. Each time you visit a doctor, ask for a copy of records for that day’s visit. • Immunization records. This information is supposed to be kept in a national database, but human errors are possible in entering data, so record your own information to be sure. • Blood type. A University of Wisconsin study found that 7 out of 10 parents don’t know their baby’s blood type—take note of that information for all family members. • Cord blood banking records, if applicable. • Medication records. Keep track of every medication your child takes, and maintain a running list. This will be helpful in case of allergic reactions. ‘ Doctor’s contact information. Note office hours, emergency numbers and office policies. ‘ Baptism certificate, if applicable. ‘ Memorabilia. Keep this category separate from “essential” records. If you’re not sure about a particular paper, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that would happen if I didn’t have this?” If you can live with your answer, toss, recycle or shred it, and move on! — Barbara Hemphill, founder of Productive Environment Institute in Raleigh, North Carolina, and author of Organizing Paper @Home: What to Toss and How To Find the Rest!