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Ten secrets to surviving the first year with twins

Elizabeth Lyons is a mother of twins, and the author of two books, Ready or Not... Here We Come! The REAL Experts' Guide to the First Year with Twins, and Ready or Not... There We Go! The REAL Experts' Guide to the Toddler Years with Twins.

10 twin tips

While pregnant with twins (or more), you are likely to receive more than a few comments -- most often from complete strangers -- about how rocky the road ahead is going to be. But it's not all bad, as this mom of twins who has been there tells you here!

newborn twins

Scary and exciting all at once!

Some folks will seemingly try to convince you you'll be lucky not to fall into a giant manhole at every step. I've always found this most unfortunate. In truth, these folks are partly right; it will be tough. But what they don't realize is how rewarding and amazing an experience it will be at the same time.

My husband and I went from one child to three in a matter of minutes. (Our daughter was two when our twins were born.) I've decided that it's tough raising any number of children. In fact, I'm convinced that it's the hardest job there is! There's no perfect spacing, no perfect age range. You are blessed with what you can handle -- what you're meant to handle -- plain and simple.

That said, there are ways to ensure a less stressful first year raising multiples.

1Get organized

If you aren't one already, become an organized and efficient person as soon as possible. If you are already a proficient planner, capitalize on it and get even better! Trust me, this is doable. Even if you are the most frazzled person on earth, you are going to learn to be efficient and organized quite quickly because it will be necessary to your survival.

According to Stephanie Winston, author of Getting Organized, "Order is whatever helps you to function effectively -- nothing more and nothing less. You set the rules and the goals, however special, idiosyncratic, or individualistic they may be." As with nearly everything else during this year, take life day by day, and do what works for you in terms of organizing yourself and your family, even if your mother-in-law thinks you're nuts (mine, by the way, swears she does not).

>> 6 Secrets of organized moms

2Don't turn down help

Many people are, by nature, simply more independent than others. It seems that mothers of multiples often fall into this category. Therefore, when help is offered, many of these women shy away from accepting help, often feeling as though saying "Yes" is the same as admitting (at the top of their lungs) "I can't do this by myself!"

Additionally, many women seem to feel that the person who has offered some help surely has a million other things on her own plate and therefore, she shouldn't accept her offer. I consider myself to be a relatively independent person, so I feel quite comfortable giving you a direct order on this one: ACCEPT HELP!

Be sure that the "help" actually fulfills your definition, however. Having someone else rock and sign to your babies while you cook and clean is often not viewed as help by a new mom of multiples. Accept the offer from anyone willing to bring a meal, clean your house, do some laundry, or run an errand. You will have more than enough time sooner than you think to return the favor. Think about it: when you offer to help someone in need, you genuinely want to help -- so does everyone volunteering his or her time to you right now. Say thank you and open your door (even if you're in your pajamas)!

3Realign your expectations

This is of paramount importance to getting through the first year. Relinquish your need (if you have one) to have your entire house clean and in perfect order all the time. One secret I rely heavily on is scented candles (I prefer those by Yankee Candle Company). The "Banana Bread" scent will give the impression that you've been cooking all day. "Clean Cotton" will fool visitors into believing you cleaned the whole house just before they arrived. "Lavender" will soothe your mind at the end of a long day.

>> Top 10 freshest scents for the home

Also, pick up a copy of Forget Perfect, by Lisa Earle McLeod. Lisa reinforces the importance of putting ourselves at or near the top of our priority lists instead of the grime behind the kitchen sink or the toys strewn across the family room. Notes Lisa, "You are not trying to create a perfect childhood, you're trying to create a functioning adult." Your time would be better spent singing nursery rhymes than scrubbing walls.

4Don't stress over cooking

Invest in a Crock Pot and few good slow cooker recipe books. The CrockP ot is a marvelous invention. Did you know that you can make quesadillas in one of these things? The recipes for this contraption have come a long way and it's not just for beef stew anymore. Whenever you have a spare second during the morning, pop the ingredients in and turn it on.

>> 3 Slow cooker dinner recipes for busy families

By dinnertime (whether at 6pm or midnight), you have a fabulous meal cooked and the house smells fantastic. If, by some small chance, one of the babies needs you the second you dish up your plate, just put your meal back in the old Crock Pot and it'll be warm whenever you're ready -- no more cold dinners! I'm thinking of giving my slow cooker a name this year and looking at it more like my own personal food butler.

5Schedule weekly alone time with your spouse

One of the biggest concerns I hear from women with multiples is that when the kids are grown and leave the house, they and their husbands will look at each other and exclaim, "Who are you?" It is important to make your best effort to nurture your relationship with your spouse to ensure this does not happen.

When your babies are young, this will be easier (though it may not seem that way at the time) than when they start moving and talking nonstop. However, as the babies get older and the house gets crazier, you may feel as though you and your mate haven't talked about anything other than where you're going as you dart out of the house just as he pulls into the driveway.

>> 10 Budget date night ideas

Get a sitter when you're comfortable taking that step -- and instead of viewing the cost as an extra $30 for an evening out, look at it as an investment in your marriage and your family. Or forget the sitter and just plan on a late dinner for the two of you when the kids have gone to bed.

Sit down and talk about something other than finances, who tackled whom that day, and how you're going to negotiate the plane ride to Grandma's. I know some days it won't seem like there's anything else to talk about, but there is. Remember what you did on your first dates, fantasize about your ultimate retirement or vacation destination, or better yet, plan a date for the following week or month.

See tips 6 - 10 on the next page

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