It has been a few weeks in between twin updates primarily because I don’t have a lot of time but one of the most common questions I have been asked is how am I managing to juggle work with 2 small baby’s? So I thought a little honesty may be in order here rather than maintaining a facade of being some sort of superwoman.
The truth is the only reason I am able to work is that I do not do it all. Rather I have a rather large network of people in my life who do quite a lot of the work associated with the twins so that I can pull out a few hours to work. First of all and most importantly I have an amazing mum. My mum is a midwife and retired just as the twins were born to give me at least 1 night each week respite so I never get too sleep deprived. Mum also cares for the twins once or twice each week so I can go to the office and see clients a couple of times. Then I have my Dad. Dad is great at holding baby’s so that means he often comes with mum to basically hold a baby, as that is what you need with twins, lots of hands. I also have a nanny, an ex Tresillian nurse who also had twins to give me 4 hours a week to write (that is who is looking after the twins as I write this piece). In addition I also have a cleaner and a couple of close friends and family who I can call on for night events or other meetings that I sometimes need to go to.
In saying that, my house does run on a pretty tight schedule. Meals and shopping are planned well in advance. Bottles and expressing run like clockwork and baths and nighttime reading to the twins is done by 6pm so Chris and I can relax. Work time is strictly scheduled so that I can engage fully with the twins when they need me and I am far less flexible than I ever was in terms of meeting times and extra events. Exercise is now only walking with the twins or a brief gym class before Chris leaves in the morning. Often TV appearances are scheduled early in the morning so they do not interfere with the day too much and I can get a lot of work done on the mobile while I am expressing milk. Sleep is no longer 8 or 9 hours rather 6 or 7 and I am ok with that. In an ideal world I would have had a complete break after having twins, but the nature of having your own business and wanting it to continue to flourish is that you need to work – maternity leave is simply not an option.
The other question that remains is how do you manage with two? I actually do not think having two the same age and stage is any more demanding than one or even two at different ages. You can feed twins at the same time, entertain them at the same time and dress and bathe them very quickly. The toughest thing is keeping calm and mentally focused when they are both restless and loud. My strategy for this is to keep exceptionally mindful; concentrate fully on one at a time and not let the noise get to me. As the twins get older they will realise that as there are two someone does have to wait. Very rarely are baby’s crying for anything other than hunger, a wet nappy or attention and it is ok to let them sit crying for a few minutes until I can get to them. A lot of this challenge is mental management. Finally I two key strategies I employ. One is to only commit to one extra ‘thing; each day, for example a walk or a meeting or a lunch, not all three, which is what I would previously have scheduled. This slower, more realistic pace suits the twins better and helps me to be a more mindful, preset mother. And I have daily goals. The goal may be to write one article or bake one thing. Having a goal helps to focus my attention and the limited time I have, but ensures that I feel as if I am making progress every single day.