Astrid Flanagan is mum to twins Freddie & Florence who are 13 months old, lives in Sandymount in Dublin and works in Public Relations. We asked her some of the burning questions that people have about life with twins!
Any smart Investments for two under two?
The best investment is the Twin Z Pillow. I honestly wouldn’t have been able to function without it. It enabled me to feed the twins at the same time and also worked as a seat to pop on the sofa when I was bringing them to friend’s houses etc.
The Baby Bjorn bouncers are great as they rock naturally without a battery and you can fold them flat and pop them in the car really easily. They were perfect for having their bottle or when you want to do a few jobs around the house.
Do they share a cot?
Not now but they initially shared a Moses basket and then shared a cot for the first two months – something that was recommended by lots of mums of twins. Since twins are used to being together from the time they were conceived, being with each other when sleeping is very comforting. However, you have to be careful not to rely too much on this bond as it can become disruptive for when the babies grow up, kicking and towering over each other and waking up!
Any tips on planning a gender neutral nursery?
We went with a neutral palette for the nursery furniture like whites and greys but then added a pop of colour with safari animal themed pictures and accessories.
I bought these cute animal prints from etsy.com.
Mint green and pale yellow are a great gender neutral color combo for anyone who's looking for an alternative to pinks and blues. We also got furniture that doubled as storage, such as storage benches and changing tables with storage shelves underneath.
Any tips on how to manage twins on your own?
I was definitely nervous about how I would handle two babies on my own when my husband returned to work after a few weeks off! I was never short of visitors so I ensured they came over when it was the twins’ bottle time so visitors could feed one baby while I fed the other. My double buggy became my second pairs of arms (I use the Out N’ About Stroller) and we would walk for an hour in the morning and in the afternoon and meet people for coffee which meant I could get a bit of exercise & headspace while they could happily snooze away or take in the surroundings.
If I was meeting people outside of the house then hotels were a great spot as most are double buggy friendly and you can feed & change them easily. I found shopping centres too hectic in terms of parking, bathrooms, and crowds of people.
One of my main pieces of advice is to accept help from obliging people. Sometimes we want to prove we can do everything but taking up offers of help will really make yours and their lives easier!
Are their sleep schedules aligned?
Yes, this was key so we made sure that everything was done at the same time – feeding, naps, bath, etc. We got into a routine of the four ‘B’s - Bath, Bottle, Bedtime Story, and Bed. Getting your twins on the same feeding and napping schedule is essential. Otherwise, you'll constantly be feeding babies, with Twin A ready to eat just as Twin B goes down for a nap.
We ensured they were in their own room from the start and avoided taking them into the bed with us. We also knew they’d be sharing the same room for the foreseeable future so for parents who want to keep their babies together my best advice is to put them down at the same time so that they develop the same sleep cycles. They are used to each other’s cries and noises now so they rarely wake each other up now.
Sleep training expert Teresa Boardman of Nanny Options gave us great sleep advice and sleep techniques that we stuck to in order to get them sleeping through the night.
Do you ever get to go out now?
Yes definitely! With help of family and a great babysitter, my husband and I ensure we get dinner or a movie to unwind and it’s important to keep up with friends and go out with your colleagues too. Luckily I have a job which enables me to be sociable and meet lots of interesting people. If I am on a night out I make sure to be home by midnight as any later means exhaustion the next day which definitely NOT worth it with two babies looking for your attention.
Do you dress them alike, are you a fan of gender neutral dressing?
When they’re young and you’re dressing them, they’re not going to notice the difference. Under two, I think you should dress them however you want! Initially, I was quite traditional in dressing them as a girl and a boy but found it was much easier in the early months if you opt for unisex onesies and sleepers. It saves so much money and sorting efforts. Another top tip is to only buy white socks! I used to waste so much time trying to pair matching socks and it would drive me crazy!
Did you buy two of everything?
Fellow twin mums told me that you don’t have to double up on everything which was great advice as more often than not, you'll find you can get by with only one of each – baby gym, bouncer, swing, bumbo seat. Of course, you will need two car seats, cribs and other essentials!
What should people buy parents of twins when gifting?
Though they were greatly received, we got a tonne of ‘fancy’ clothes which we barely got through. Bumper packs of Pampers and pampers sensitive wipes are always greatly appreciated and Fairy washing powder – I know this sounds very basic but believe me when you see the amount of nappies and laundry you go through you will be very appreciative! Zip baby grows (apart from button ones) are great as they are so easy to put on but can be hard to get (GAP do some). You can never have too many muslin cloths and dribble bibs either so the more practical the gifts the better (a nice bottle of wine for the parents goes down well too! J)
Any other tips?
We set up a portable crib and playpen in the living room where we were spending most of our time with the babies so that we had a safe place to leave one baby in case you need to attend to the other. We also have a baby changer there so we don’t have to keep running up and down the stairs.
When they are on solids, batch cooking and freezing is key so I’d advise buying the Babypotz brand and cleaning out your freezer of everything else as you’ll want to be able to put your hand in and grab and go! A good handheld blender or slow cooker will also be essential in getting through the meals efficiently! We used the Annabel Karmel cookbook initially but slowly made up our own mixes based on what the twins liked.
Finally, lots of patience, a good sense of humour and above all sticking to the routine will get you through the madness & joy of bringing up twins!
Are you expecting twins or already have two bundles of joy? You should also check out Baby Elegance’s Twin Baby Bundle!