On our website, we talk a lot about the rewarding parts and exceptional bits about parenting twins and multiples. The practical side of it can be so hard, it is important to remember to focus on the good bits, so we don’t get overwhelmed with piles of stinky nappies and complete lack of sleep.
But what if you can’t even find any good bits? What if you are just not enjoying anything about being a parent of twins or triplets?
This is completely normal too.
Having multiples is a precious gift and brings with it all sorts of benefits, surprises, and joy. But don’t feel bad if you are finding focusing on the good bits a little difficult.
The last thing you need to do is add to your stress by feeling guilty for not loving every moment (or even any moment…)
Anecdotally, parents of multiples report higher levels of physical stress, tiredness, difficulty bonding and even anxiety and depression than parents of single babies. This article looks at some reasons why you might not be enjoying being a parent of twins or triplets.
Let’s look at some reasons why you might not be enjoying being parent of twins or multiple babies.
You are physically drained
Mums (and Dads) of little babies are physically exhausted, to the point where they can’t think straight and sometimes can’t remember who they are or what sort of things they used to enjoy. It can be hard to find anything that makes you happy right now, let alone find happiness in two little squirming crying life-sucking cling-monkeys.
Your emotions and mood are all over the place, so you are probably not feeling regular levels of enjoyment. It isn’t a sign of substandard parenting or even lack of love for your child – you just physically feel like crap.
Having more than one baby can make it harder for you to bond with each one, which can naturally contribute to you not enjoying this time. If you can’t connect and engage on some human level with your babies, then this can just become an unrelenting chore.
Often one or more of your multiple babies have to spend time in the ICU post-birth, with some even staying after you go home from the hospital. This puts extra stress on bonding and can make you feel super-nervous about how fragile they are.
You have less time with each individual baby than a parent of one which stretches your capacity to bond as well.
And in the beginning, you possibly can’t even tell them apart. This is also totally normal and completely forgivable. In time they will show their own individual characteristics and personality quirks, and you won’t have any problem telling them apart anymore.
Your standards might be too high
Most new parents expect having a newborn will be hard. But some find it extra difficult because of their own innate standards of control and perfectionism.
People who have been used to high levels of organisation in their careers and pre-baby life may be especially shocked by the lack of control around life with twins and triplets.
You may need to work on your own acceptance of what a good job means right now. This may mean forgiving a messy house, haphazard routines, unpredictability, lack of patterns and just basically not knowing what you are doing.
Don’t aim for a perfect job, or even a good job of parenting. Aim for ‘Do what works for me’. Your babies just need to be kept safe and have their basic animal needs met – everything else is a bonus right now.
Jealousy of single babies
It is enormously common for parents of twins to feel jealousy of a mum with just one baby.
Parents of single newborns have it tough, but parents of twins can have it even tougher. The time and workload of twin babies are greater, and you get even less sleep.
You have fewer people around you who ‘get’ how hard twin newborns can be, so can feel less supported. This is one of many reasons why I started this website; to let parents of twins and multiples connect with others just like them.
It can be harder to just get out and do anything, like just go to the shops, for a walk or out to the park. Even just grabbing a coffee at a local café can seem too much effort to bother, and it’s just easier to stay home. Some places those double prams are definitely not meant to go!
Be kind to yourself
The best thing you can do is to start by saying to yourself, ‘So, I’m not enjoying being a parent of twins. This is totally normal and completely OK.’
Don’t feel worse about feeling bad. Cut yourself some slack and forgive yourself for not instantly appreciating things right now.
Try to ease your load at this time as best you can by asking for help or learning to let some things go. Try to grab some five-minute breaks throughout the day where you can do something kind just for yourself, such as have a long hot shower, a quiet cup of tea or flick through a magazine.
Be creative in how you grab your five-minute breaks, but make sure that you do get them. If you are driving and your babies both fall asleep don’t go straight home – get a drive-through latte and park somewhere nice and sip it slowly.
Just take each day as it comes and don’t be so hard on yourself. This time will pass and parenting twins will become easier, more rewarding and a lot more fun – trust me.
Post Natal Depression
As we’ve said, it is normal to not be enjoying life right now. But there are normal challenges of parenting twins, and then there is something more serious, which may be postnatal depression.
If this lack of enjoyment continues for months, and you notice other of these feelings or effects happening, there might be something more going on:
- Feeling constantly sad, low or crying for no reason
- Constant feeling of dread, worry, anxiety or panic
- Losing your sense of enjoyment in anything you used to like
- Constant feelings of exhaustion (even physical pain), being overwhelmed and that there is no hope
- Feeling that you are not good enough for your babies
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Drastic changes in appetite
- Low or no sex drive
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Having trouble concentrating or remembering
- Feeling no connection or bond with your babies
- Having thoughts of harming your babies
- Having thoughts of death or suicide, or to just walk away from it all
If you are concerned that you or your partner might be suffering from PND you should talk to your family doctor about options to help. You can also get some more information from our article on it here.