Having your twins at home with you in the nursery that you prepared especially for them will bring a kind of joy you have never felt before. In many ways, it feels more memorable than the best Christmas you ever had as a child; the best presents you could ever hope for are right there in front of you.
As you and your babies settle into the concept of scheduling, you will probably want to get into some sort of routine. Doing so is not only natural but in many ways essential when it comes to parenting twins.
Your twins will most likely come home from the hospital on a three-hour schedule. Stick with it as best you can. It is what they are used to and what they need.
Keeping up with the schedule, particularly the night feedings, will be difficult. As a new mother, you will be exhausted and at times overwhelmed. But there are ways to take a bit of control for yourself within the rigid structure of the three-hour schedule.
Below is a detailed outline of how a three-hour schedule can be broken up during a typical day. With the help of your partner, you should be able to get at least a four-hour block of sleep each night, plus a few additional hours broken up by a night feeding, from the very start. And you should insist on this. You will need it. It is good for you, your partner, and your babies.
If for some reason you can’t get a total of six hours of sleep, think outside the box. Find a naptime or another way to rest. Remember, the first 90 days are the toughest. Things will get better, but first you have to push through some difficult times.
You can do it! We did. And we believe scheduling helps with a mother’s confidence, expectations, and sanity.
Twins’ Daily Routine
A few things to note:
- 9:00 a.m. was arbitrarily picked as the starting time for this sample schedule. If 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. works better for you, adjust the guide so it is in line with your selected start time. This sample schedule also assumes that your partner is working full time.
- On the weekends and during any paternity leave, adjust this routine so that you and your partner each get at least a six-hour block of sleep on these nights; even more sleep would be ideal.
- It is assumed that while following this sample schedule you are using a baby monitor to hear the twins whenever you are not in the nursery with them.
Good Morning Twins: Enter the room, and turn on the lights and some music. Perhaps sing to or “chat with” your babies. Let them know their day is beginning. If it is light outside, they should be awake and as active as possible, even in those earliest days. Change their diapers and clothes (even if you simply put on another jumpsuit, it is good to get in the routine and equate the change of clothes with the start of the day), and begin their feeding.
Twin Time: After the feeding, engage in “twin time.” Twin time is simply playtime and interaction with one another. Rest them near each other on an activity mat or in a crib so that they can touch and interact. Talk to them gently.
Exercise for Mommy: While the babies are having twin time, take 20 minutes or so to exercise. We recommend a simple routine that you can repeat. We ♥ Tracy Anderson’s five-minute arm video via GOOP, plus a series of tummy exercises, lunges, and bum-busters. You should be able to do all of this while keeping a close eye on your twins.
Chores: You won’t want to do them, but they might have to get done. Take advantage of the boost from that morning cup of joe to fold clothes, make your bed, etc.
Daytime Activities: After the diaper changes and noon feeding, continue with daytime activities to encourage your twins and yourself to be in a “wake state” for this portion of the day.
Beauty Time: Because the twins are so young, they will not need daily baths. They will only need a bath every two to three days. After the noon feeding is a good time to have the bath or take care of grooming—you won’t be too tired, and they will be relaxed and full. On the days you aren’t giving baths, take time to wash the babies’ faces with a cleansing fluid (we ♥ Mustela’s) on a cotton swab. Brush their hair. Lotion their skin. Clean their ears and folds as necessary. While you do this, talk to your babies. Tell them what you are doing, and enjoy the simplicity of it all.
Reading Time: After beauty time, take an hour or so to read to your babies. Choose a minimum of two books. You can set your babies in their boppy pillows and face the book toward them. The soothing sound of your voice and graphic images will interest them, and it will quickly become a time you look forward to. Take a peek at reading time:
Mommy Eats: This is also when you should eat lunch. Make a sandwich or salad (better yet, have your partner make your lunch the night before!); have some fruit. You can snack while you read to the twins if necessary. Be sure to drink a healthy amount of water throughout the day as well.
Tummy Time: After the 3:00 p.m. feeding, the day is starting to wind down. Schedule in some tummy time. Tummy time is essential and should be done throughout the day, but dedicate a good chunk of time to it now so you work with the twins at the same time every day. Tummy time is a good activity for later in the day because it is very much work and exercise for them—so it will wear them out a bit, which is great as nighttime approaches. Take a peek at tummy time with a very helpful pug:
Snack for Mommy: Have a snack after tummy time. This is a good time for the babies to rest, and you should rest too. Lie down for a short late afternoon nap if you can.
Daddy Time: For the 6:00 p.m. feeding, it is highly recommended that your partner come home from work and “save the day,” gallantly taking over for you for the next hour or so. He should handle the feeding if you are bottle-feeding; if you are breast-feeding, talk about your day and his day while the twins feed. Then allow Daddy to have some alone time with the twins. This will give him a much-needed chance to bond with them through activities such as twin time, reading time, or just chatting. Take the opportunity to either nap for at least an hour or shower prior to the two of you having dinner.
Mommy and Daddy Eat: After dinner, we recommend that you get ready for bed prior to the 9:00 p.m. feeding so that you can go directly to sleep after the feeding is complete.
Quiet Time: And then comes the night … This day routine is intended as a guide to break things up for you as a new mommy and to give your twins daytime activities. The night routine is different and is intentionally quiet with very little major activity. It is our thinking that keeping the lights very dim, and using white noise or quiet voices, encourages your twins to understand the difference between night and day. This is important from day one. Keep things quiet and calm for your body and psyche as well.
Good Night Twins: You and your partner should both do this nightly ritual together. Change the babies’ diapers and put them into their jammies. Do the feeding together, under low light, perhaps with lullabies playing in the background. Read a goodnight story to your twins, such as "Goodnight Moon." Be consistent with this, and read it aloud to them together, page by page if possible. Your twins will find much comfort in this. Put your twins down for bed, and turn on a white noise machine or CD if you wish (we ♥ Ocean Waves).
Mommy and Daddy Sleep: Once the babies are down, you both should go to sleep as well.
Night Feeding #1: Quiet sleep feeding by Mommy. Change their diapers, feed them, and return them to their crib. Mommy goes back to sleep. Suggestion: If Daddy is a real trooper, have him take this midnight feeding every other night during the week so that you can get a solid chunk of sleep after the 9:00 p.m. feeding ends until the 3:00 a.m. feeding begins.
Night Feeding #2: Quiet sleep feeding by Mommy. Change their diapers, feed them, and return them to their crib. Mommy goes back to sleep.
Daddy Morning: Quiet sleep feeding by Daddy. Change their diapers, feed them, and return them to their crib. Daddy gets ready for work and uses the monitor, ideally letting you sleep until 30 minutes before he departs for work. When he wakes you, you should get up and go through your morning routine, including having a bit of breakfast. The goal is for you to get four to five hours of uninterrupted sleep, as you will probably get only shorter chunks of sleep between the 9:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. feedings. If you have others staying with you to help with the babies, ask if they will manage the twins until the 9:00 a.m. feeding. This will help you get roughly five hours of sleep.
Remember, this is just for the first five weeks or so. Ask your pediatrician, but you should be able to begin stretching the night feedings around then and start moving to a four-hour schedule.