Guest post for Families Magazine
It’s Christmas. Again. I am not sure why I am so surprised, seeming as it happens on the same day every year. It just seems to come around faster every year!
Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. Not many of our family live in the same city as us, so we usually travel to them. I don’t mind, as it means that we can just sit and relax, and not try to do the endless jobs around the house that the extended time of work would usually lend itself to. Plus there are often relatives who are happy to entertain your multiples, giving you an opportunity for a break for an hour or two.
Children make Christmas so much more fun. And having twins, triplets, quads or more makes Christmas multiply more fun! Christmas is a great time to relax and spend some time with your multiples.
Twinfo have put together some tips to help you survive the festive season with your multiples.
If your multiples are still quite young, then you can probably do not need to plan and be as organised as when you have older multiples. 6 month olds aren’t going to be able to open presents, and they will no doubt get lots of gifts from friends and family. They will however enjoy looking at the lights and playing with the wrapping paper!!
Remember, just because they are multiples, it doesn’t mean they need to get the exact same presents. Variety is the spice of life! This is also one way to ensure that they are treated as individuals, and not just as “the twins” or “the triplets”.
Another suggestion is to choose something that can be used together by all of them. For example, construction sets (ie duplo/lego), where they will all get the benefit of having a larger amount of blocks to create and play with. My girl/boy twins are now six, and are extremely good at playing together. I find that most “sets” that you buy these days just don’t have quite enough “parts” to really stimulate their creativity. So what I prefer to do is try to find things second hand (gumtree, ebay and various buy, swap and sell groups) and then buy three or four “sets” which they can share. I’ve done this with Duplo, Magna-Tiles, magnetic ball and stick construction sets and so forth.
One thing you need to consider when having multiples who do have identical presents is that to be careful when it comes to them opening them, as otherwise they can spoil the surprise for each other. In the past, if I know they have the same or even similar gifts, I have craftily engineered the opening to occur simultaneously (or at least one immediately after the other). It’s wonderful to see the joy mirrored on each of their faces when they open something they have wanted, only to find their twin/triplet has the same thing.
Christmas is also a good opportunity to give a ‘family’ present, a single, larger gift that can be shared by all rather than a multitude of smaller presents.
Once your multiples are older, it’s easier to foster individuality through presents by asking them what they would like for Christmas. You can do this outright or subtly by writing a letter to Santa. I suggest doing this activity separately, so you can really focus on what they want individually, rather than what they overheard their twin/triplet/quad say they want.
One tip for making the day less stressful, particularly if you have smaller multiples, is to open each box prior to wrapping and spend the time unscrewing, untwisting and untying all the bits that hold the present ‘nicely’ in the box. Pop some batteries in and then put it back in the box for wrapping. This will save people invariably losing their temper while they search futilely for the correct sized Phillips head screwdriver to get the present out of the box, then only to have to go back out to the toolshed to get a smaller Phillips head screwdriver to open the battery cage, just to find that it takes one of those big square batteries, that you don’t have one of!!!
Christmas isn’t all about presents though – presence is just as important. The Christmas period, whether you celebrate it or not, or whether you go away or stay at home, is a great time to have some quality family time together. Use this time and just “be” with your family. As we all know, life with multiples is quite chaotic, so the Christmas and New Year period is a great opportunity to make some new memories. Bake some treats together, watch a movie together and snuggle up with your kids on the couch, rather than trying to do the ironing or mow the grass while they are watching the movie.
During Christmas, your usual routines will go out the window. You will need to try to be a bit flexible, particularly if you are travelling to family or friends houses over this period. Hopefully though, there will be additional people around who can help you with the children. Often there are additional Aunts, Uncles, cousins and friends around who can help distract them when needed. And make sure that you take advantage of these extra hands to ensure that you and your partner get some much needed time out!
In the days leading up to Christmas, it is a practical to remind your children to ensure they thank people for their presents. The whole present opening can get a bit frantic and its easy for children to be overwhelmed and forget their manners. Maybe also remind them that they will need to write or call the extended family and friends who generously gave presents to them to thank them!
Twinfo would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Twinsmas and a multi-tude of good wishes for the New Year.
Twinfo provides a connection to resources, information, products and service providers who specialise in supporting multiple births at every stage of their life.