I had never considered myself a “type A” person before I had kids. Don’t get me wrong, I am actually pretty detail oriented when it comes to my work. But in my personal life, I have always been more go with the flow.
I don’t know what I originally imagined my parenting style would be in the baby stage. I was only seven weeks pregnant when I found out we were having twins, and I didn’t have much time to daydream what I would be like as a mom. I think in my one-baby fantasies, there were a lot of cuddly mornings in bed, maybe a snuggly nap or two on the couch, and a lot of baby-wearing as I went about my day. (I think one-baby-fantasy-me may have been slightly delusional about motherhood, but I digress.)
The reality of twins sunk in pretty quickly as I realized we would be hustling even more than I thought with two newborns. From day one, I knew that “The Schedule” would be king.
As a type B gal in my previous life, schedules were nice but not necessary. To-do lists felt suffocating to my spontaneity. After twins, lists were the only thing that kept us all sane. We have lived and died by the clock.
So, what did this look like? It started when we got home from the hospital and fed the girls every three hours on the dot, around the clock.
As they got older, I was a stickler for wake windows and nap times. If one twin woke up before the other, she was rocked back to sleep until the schedule said it was okay to get up. (I listened to a LOT of podcasts in that dark nursery.)
Every diaper and ounce of formula was logged in our tracking app.
Again, these things kept me sane and removed some of the guesswork from my parenting. They ensured that other caregivers were on the same page and my girls were experiencing consistency, day in and day out. The girls thrived in an environment where they knew what to expect.
There was also a downside to being type A. I experienced stress and anxiety that came with sticking to The Schedule. The consequences of deviating from our time table sometimes felt dire — especially when it meant losing out on sleep, a precious and hard-won commodity in the newborn days. It also led to frustration when others strayed from what I expected: a well-meaning grandmother who got a fussy baby up early from a nap, or a sleep-deprived husband who forgot to log the bottles he gave in the middle of the night. The Schedule also made it even more difficult to want to get out of the house. Was a trip out worth the stress and anxiety of a delayed nap and fussy babies?
As I came out of the newborn fog, things began to feel easier. I found myself getting into a routine where I wasn’t staring at the clock wondering if The Schedule would tell me it was time for a nap soon. I realized that I felt more confident in my parenting abilities and intuition than what a piece of paper was telling me to do. I realized that my girls were also more resilient than I was giving them credit for. We could shift a nap to maximize spending time with our cousins without the world ending. We could leave the house and get back in time for a late bottle without a meltdown (mom’s or babies’). After one full year of tracking everything that came into and went out of my babies, I let go of our tracking app. We are still sticklers for consistency in this house but have learned to be more flexible and are happier for it.
The Schedule, the tracking, the control all served me during a time where it felt like chaos could have reigned. When I look at the results, I see two happy babies who are thriving AND a mom and dad who are thriving. I never thought I would be the type A parent with an iron-fisted schedule, and maybe I’ll be back to my loosey-goosey self soon, but parenting twins has brought me a whole new appreciation for my more regimented side.
I know that this struggle is not unique to me or even just to parents of multiples. I think all new parents want to take back some control over the chaos of parenthood.
How did you make it through that first year? Were you more type A or laid back?
Don’t forget to join Fort Worth Moms neighbor group on Facebook, Tarrant County Moms of Multiples.