One of the things I was worried about when I found out that we were having twins was how it would impact on Sofia my daughter. I think it is natural to be concerned about how a new sibling is going to impact on your first born and maybe more so when multiples are involved. Part of me was thinking is this going to ruin Sofia’s life.
Sofia was three when I found out I was pregnant with the twins and had just turned 4 when they were born. Sofia came to lots of hospital scans with me which made the experience real for her. This was more from necessity than planning. I had fortnightly scans and we didn’t always have childcare. 3 year olds aren’t officially allowed to sit in on development scans but they turned a blind eye (she is incredibly well behaved!)
I will never forget Sofia seeing her brothers for the first time in the hospital. She was a little bit in awe of these tiny little sleeping people. I will also never forget the look of shock on her face when they both cried at the same time.
The not so great bits………….
Sofia has seen some of the ugly moments of our early twin parent days – the boys screaming when they needed feeding at the same time. Me manically rocking one in a bouncy chair with one foot while feeding the other. The double tantrums. The thrown food. The moments of mum melt down. We used to call the end of the day 4 o’clock crazy time as this is when things generally got a bit messy. It took Sofia a really long time to figure out who was who. She used to say things like “Mummy the stripy one is crying”.
Things that helped her………
Some dedicated time
Rolando used to come home from work early every Friday so I could pick Sofia up from school and take her to our local cafe for precious mummy daughter time. We’d read her phonics books from school, eat cake and have a bit of time out. I needed this just as much as she did. I practically ran out of the door the second Rolando got home.
Making the most of the time when the boys were sleeping
Nap time was totally prime time to do stuff together – baking, craft, sewing, games with little pieces (normally classed as chocking hazards), watching Disney films and dressing up. From quite early in the day Sofia used to ask me is it nap time yet.
Sticking with family traditions (even though it nearly killed me)
Instead of doing an advent calendar we always do advent activities, one little Christmassy thing each day. I stuck to this even when the boys were just a few months old. At times it was really difficult to fit it in, decorating a gingerbread house while all hell broke loose around us, but it kind of made it more special.
Not forcing her to love her brothers straight away or 100% of the time
I let Sofia get to know her brothers in her own time and didn’t ever push her to be totally happy about them being there all the time. It used to drive me crazy when strangers would ask her how much she loved her brothers. I knew it would come in time and didn’t need to be rushed.
Letting her talk
I gave Sofia the space to talk about being a bit annoyed at times and not forcing her to squash down any negatives she was feeling about the situation. I think letting her get it off her mind kind of dissipated the occasional negative feelings rather than making a big deal of them.
Keeping her stuff safe from little wreckers
We put a high table in the living room where she could put her stuff out of harms way. A few things did still get broken but it did teach her not to leave stuff lying around.
Letting her have a safe haven
We made her room a baby free zone so at least she had somewhere to escape from the noise and the busyness.
Stopping her getting overlooked
The boys attract a lot of attention when we are out and about (I have heard every question about twins 1000 times). I tried to get her involved in the conversation by letting her say who was who (even if I had to whisper it to her).
Let her help when she wanted to
I let Sofia do little things to help the boys but only when she wanted to. We used to bath them together and she has spoon fed both of them when they were weaning. She now helps them take their coats off when they get home.
Trying to stop her missing out
I have really tried to make sure she didn’t miss out too much sometimes to the point of craziness. We went to a soft play party when I was pregnant and I went on the equipment with her when she was nervous to do it on her own. I remember taking the boys to quite a few birthday parties when they were tiny, sometimes I would be sitting there delirious and sleep deprived. On one occasion pushing them through the sleet to our village hall so that she got to someone’s birthday celebration (while praying the twins were okay out in the cold).
Daddy and daughter days
Rolando has planned some one on one time with Sofia too. He took her to his workshop to make a bird house, took her to a firework display and to the cinema (even though he won’t admit to crying while watching Inside Out).
Where we are now…….
I can see now that having twin brothers didn’t ruin Sofia’s life. It gave her two extra people that she loves and who love her through the daily scraps and squabbles of sibling life.
Then there are the golden moments when the kids come together as a little gang – jumping on our bed, giggling over a little shared joke, snuggled up under the duvet together. Sofia was so excited when the boys reached their milestones. The moment that they learnt her name was magic. The boys returned the favour cheer her on at sports day. The boys look up to their big sister, following her around and trying to keep up with her, even if she is trying to escape from them on her scooter. Sofia taking their hand and keeping them safe and feeling really proud of herself for being the grown up protector. The shared cuddles. Knowing they are going to be together for the whole of their lives.