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Moms with twins battle time on multiple fronts

  • Story Highlights
  • A schedule is "beyond important," says one mom of twins
  • Multiples clubs can provide much-needed support for parents
  • Indispensable tools include "car" toys and double strollers
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By Steve Almasy
CNN
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(CNN) -- For the first few months of their lives, twins Maggie and Kate Fox ate and slept at different times. Their mother, Wendy, hardly had time to think.

Wendy Fox, mom to twins Kate, left, and Maggie, says it's important to seek support from others.

So, at 3 months, Wendy took some advice from another mother of twins and started the four B's -- bath, book, bottle and bed -- every night at the same time.

"A schedule to twins is beyond important," the teacher from Raleigh, North Carolina, says. Her twins, who were born about 7 weeks prematurely, turned 1 year old May 16.

Fox says she's learned another valuable lesson in this first year: Turn to others when you need assistance. Help has come in the form of her mother, her husband, her sister, long-time friends and even people she has never met. She is a member of a multiples club and is so thankful for her new friends that she invited 60 of them to the twins' birthday party.

Another mother of twins says clubs are a huge help for most parents, especially the rookies.

"As a first-time parent, it was so helpful to have role models, moms who had been through it before me," says Pamela Fierro, the author of "Mommy Rescue Guide: Twins, Triplets, and More" and the mother of twin teenage girls.

The National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs says on its Web site that there are more than 400 multiples clubs throughout the country, with more than 25,000 members.

Pointers for Parents

  • If you don't have help at the twins' bath time, use a bouncy seat or infant carrier so you can keep one child nearby as one goes in the tub.
  • Get a slow cooker. You can prepare food early in the day and let it cook until dinner time.
  • When boarding a plane, one parent can board early to carry bags and get seats set up, while the other parent can board later with the kids.
  • When getting the multiples to clean up, separate them. If they are together, they tend to want to play.
  • Find a mother's helper, for example a trustworthy neighborhood teen, who can go on errands with you to act as an extra set of hands for a few hours.

Source: Pamela Fierro, author, "Mommy Rescue Guide: Twins, Triplets, and More"

For Fierro, the clubs were helpful in finding playgroups with moms who had twins the same age as hers. Some clubs also have opportunities for parents to have a night out, and they often give older kids a chance to meet other multiples.

One of the best incentives, Fierro says, is the yearly sale that most clubs have. Parents who rarely have opportunities to shop can buy a lot of key items at once.

"It's a great way to stock up on two of everything instead of having to buy it all new," she says.

Fox likes her club for the private forums and the advice she can get from other moms. Rather than having to do hours of research, she posted a question about breastfeeding and quickly received 20 e-mails with a variety of suggestions.

She says she has met three other mothers who had twins around the same time she did and they've become fast friends. When she has an issue that's too sensitive to share with the hundreds of multiples bulletin board users, she can turn to her three friends.

In the future, the mothers may take turns helping each other, alternating baby-sitting duties while the other parents run errands.

Supermom's support system

Asking for help when she needs it is critical for a mother of multiples, says Fierro, who also writes an advice column at http://multiples.about.com.

Fierro initially wanted to be a "supermom," but soon learned she would need to reach out to friends and family. Her mother helped by cooking two of everything before the twins were born and saving the extra for the first few weeks after her daughter came home from the hospital.

Fox says it is a good idea to line up people to bring food. Many people tell parents they want to help, and she says many moms want to be self-sufficient. But she says parents have to realize their limits.

"When you have twins, you have to have help," she says. Don't be afraid to ask someone to either watch the kids while you run an errand or find out if someone close to you can run to the store or go on another errand.

These days Fierro likes to go to meal assembly stores, where customers can prepare several meals in one evening and put them in the freezer. She saves a lot of time by not making frequent trips to the grocery store.

"It is nice to have something I can pop in the microwave or oven and not have to think about cooking or shopping or cleaning up afterwards," she says.

Must-haves for multiples' moms

If you do have to go out by yourself with multiples, Fox suggests finding several "car" toys that stay in the vehicle and occupy the children while you are trying to get them in the car. The kids focus on those toys and it helps settle them down, she says.

Fierro also recommends getting a double stroller with seats that snap into the frame and also act as car seats. That way you can put the children in the seats in the house, roll them out to the car and put them in the vehicle without having to pick them up in your arms.

"A good double stroller is the most important piece of equipment the parents of twins can invest in," Fierro says. "For the first year, it's really a lifesaver."

You also learn which stores are twin friendly, Fox says. She knows which ones have shopping carts with two seats, and she also knows -- most of the time -- where the bathrooms are that have a stall big enough for a double stroller and an adult.

"That's the kind of crazy stuff you have to think about," she says.

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