Having twins means learning to accept help

CHILD LIFE

August 28, 1994|By BEVERLY MILLS

Q: I am pregnant with twins, and I need to find out how to handle them when I already have a 5- and 3-year-old at home.

0$ -- Kip Connally, Lone Oak, Texas

A: Starting now, there's one word that should be foremost in your vocabulary: help.

Get creative and organized in seeking help, and condition yourself to take advantage of any and all available assistance, say parents of twins from around the country.

It's really hard to learn to accept help, says Barbara Kelley of Oakhurst, Calif., who also had a 3- and a 5-year-old when her twins were born six months ago. Many people feel they'll never be able to repay so much kindness.

"If somebody offers to take one baby out of the pediatrician's office or, if someone says they'll bring you dinner, let them do it," Ms. Kelley says. "You don't get a medal for doing it all yourself."

Several mothers were surprised to discover that it was not the twins they needed help with, but everything else, from laundry overload to entertaining the older children.

Many mothers of twins have found that friends will come over and offer to hold the babies while you do the laundry, says Pamela P. Novotny of Boulder, Colo., a mother of 13-year-old twins and author of "The Joy of Twins" (Crown, $16).

"They should go do the laundry while you hold the babies," Ms. Novotny says.

Joanie Randle of Athens, Ga., suggests hiring someone to clean if the budget allows. Several mothers have been relieved from chores by relatives, friends and people who attend their place of worship.

As the offers come in, keep a list you can refer back to. Then ask a friend to manage the list, calling people back to arrange for specific dates and tasks. Be as specific as you can when asking for assistance.

For inexpensive help on a daily basis, Julie Ellis of Dallas, Texas, recommends finding a mother's helper, such as a 10- or 11-year-old who may not be old enough to baby-sit but who would enjoy helping out while you're in the house.

But even with help, most families say it's necessary to lower standards of what a clean house means. "It's extremely important to prioritize," says Colleen Trinko of Fremont, Calif. "Perhaps that will mean letting some of the housework slip and doing a little less cooking."

Babies demand to get their needs taken care of, and a messy house isn't usually life-threatening. But one real danger during the first few months is that older siblings can begin to feel neglected.

"Twins will steal the show if they're allowed to," says Betty Rothbart of Brooklyn, N.Y., author of a new book about twins called "Multiple Blessings" (Hearst Books, $12).

Experts in the field say older children need to be constantly reassured of their importance in the family. They also need lots of hugs and other physical contact with their parents and, at the very least, they must have some undivided attention from each parent every day.

To find a support group in your area, call or write the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, P.O. Box 23188, Albuquerque, N.M. 87192, (505) 275-0955, and ask for a referral.

While a reporter at the Miami Herald, Beverly Mills developed this column after the birth of her son, now 5. Ms. Mills and her husband currently live in Raleigh, N.C., and also have a 3-year-old daughter.

CAN YOU HELP?

Here's a new question from a parent who needs your help. If you have tips, or if you have questions of your own, please call our toll-free hot line any time at (800) 827-1092. Or write to Child Life, 2212 The Circle, Raleigh, N.C. 27608.

* Style-conscious: "My husband won't allow our 11-year-old son to wear anything to school except jeans and polo shirts," says M.S. of Virginia Beach, Va. "The other kids wear big T-shirts and rTC baggy styles, and they're making fun of him. I'm afraid it's going to hurt his school performance and his self-esteem. Am I right, and if so, how can I convince my husband?"

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