I get tired just thinking about Irish Twins! Our children are 27 months apart, almost 24 months apart, and 37 months apart. I’m not sure what the most ideal child spacing would be, and quite frankly, I don’t believe in being totally “in charge” of such decisions. Keep reading for my sweet friend JessieLeigh’s experience with Irish Twins.
Rare is the mama who announces she is expecting another baby well before her last child even hits the six month mark. But it does happen… it happened to me. Did it happen to you too? Are you wondering how on earth to cope? (Or, perhaps, are you just fascinated by the idea much in the way I’m fascinated by families with oodles of children?) Having raised my own set of Irish Twins and lived to tell about it- well, they’re both about five right now- please allow me to share a little of what I have learned.
Since so many people have a 2-3 year space between their children, this may well be the situation of most of your friends and family. And they will try to offer you (well-meaning) advice. What I want you to know is this: much of it does not apply to you. By all means, listen to them. Take what works and ditch what doesn’t. Just be aware that tips that work with a toddler and a newborn may not apply with a baby and a newborn.
If I could give you just one big tip, it would be this: Do not forget that your older baby is still just that- a baby. Your family make-up is strikingly different from those with more widely-spaced siblings. Many of their suggestions won’t work well for you. And that’s okay.
It is not uncommon for parents to work hard to help their “baby” graduate to new things before the new baby arrives. Parents of toddlers or preschoolers often scramble to get the current youngest out of the crib, off the pacifier, potty-trained, etc, etc. And that’s fine. I fully understand that it is easier to do those things before the new baby arrives than it would be to try and accomplish them after the birth.
You cannot do this. Please do not try. Your 11-month old simply does not BELONG in a toddler bed. Your not-even-1-year-old should not be expected to use the potty. And it is NORMAL for your older baby to still be on the breast or bottle and perhaps using a pacifier. None of this needs to change with the arrival of a new baby. One of the reasons they’re called “Irish twins” is that, in many ways, raising them can be similar to raising twins. You are going to need some extra gear, but that is a topic for a whole ‘nother post. One that I will be writing for you, never fear. 😉
As I keep pointing out, you will be raising two babies. When you first arrive home, you will feel like your life is an endless cycle of feeding, diapering, naptimes, soothing, rocking, singing, and putting to sleep. Here are five of my top tips for making it a little easier:
- Do not try to put them on the same schedule. Newborns are notorious for sleeping and eating whenever they want/need to. That is fine. Ten- or eleven-month olds, on the other hand, tend to thrive with a predictable routine. Keep following your older baby’s schedule as closely as possible. Let the newborn live “on demand”.
- Embrace baby-wearing. You certainly don’t have to, but you’ll make your life a whole lot easier if you invest in a quality wrap or sling. Anything that helps free up an arm or two can be a life-saver!
- Get out of the house. Seriously. I know it’s hard, but go to the grocery store, just you and your babies. Even if you only pick up a few items, there’s a real sense of empowerment that you’ll feel when you realize that you CAN do it. (p.s. Park by the carts- this will help a lot!)
- Celebrate simultaneous naps. These may not happen everyday. But, when your babies happen to sleep at the same time, enjoy it. Do not rush about trying to clean. Take a moment. Breathe. Rest. Celebrate the moment.
- Most importantly, realize that, eventually, you will reap the rewards. I cannot even begin to tell you the joy I’ve experienced by having two children so close in age. They are such good friends. They like the same things. They’ve never had sibling jealousy because, well, they’ve never known a time without each other. I am not saying there is not strong sibling love between more widely spaced siblings- not at all- but there is something uniquely special about children who are born so close to each other. It is a beautiful thing to witness as a parent!
Are you the parent of very closely spaced children? What questions do you have about raising “Irish twins”?