Time alone with each of your children is an essential part of nurturing you child’s sense of individuality, confidence, and sense of self. The challenges of twin parenting mean that giving this kind of essential time to each of your children requires special attention, organization, and commitment. It also requires many parents to put aside what might feel like a “benefit” of having twins, such as the special responses that being in public with twins might elicit. After all the hard work, guilt, and sleeplessness, it feels good to be acknowledged by strangers who reflect that twin parents, “have their hands full”, and must have super-parent like qualities! In addition, spending time with one child might also require a twin parent to temporarily suspend the guilt they might have for not attending to the child who is not with them. Reminding oneself of the importance of one-on-one time is key when the child who is left behind protests as you depart with their sibling.
Babies learn to know who they are through their interactions with others, first and foremost, their parents. Time alone allows you to identify your baby’s unique needs and characteristics. When you can identify their unique needs and characteristics, you are able to respond more sensitively. Sensitive responsiveness enhances the bond between you and your child, and this strengthened bond gives them a more secure and safe experience of their world. In addition, sensitive and in-tuned responsiveness helps your child to know themselves. When you reflect back to them your own enhanced understanding of them, your child knows and understands herself better. This self-awareness lays the foundation for each child’s sense of herself in relation to others and to the world.
This interactive process happens when you give your undivided attention to each child during one on one time. Even the best of us are not able to do this well when we have to care for two at the same time. Many twin parents find the idea somewhat daunting. If this is the case, I suggest starting small. If dad isn’t available, enlist another adult, a family member, babysitter, or nanny to help you. Make it a regular part of your routine. Start early, even when your babies are very young, they can benefit from a walk around the neighborhood alone with mom. With older babies and children, it may help to make the experience with the non-mom caretaker even more exciting. You can do this with “favorite” toys or outings selected only for non-mom one-on-one times, while you do routine errands or stay at home during one-on-one times.
Last but not least, one-on-one time enables your child to develop a stronger bond with their twin sibling. After all, no one wants to spend 24/7 with anyone!
We are excited about our new Twins Group starting at the Hollywood Pump Station on Monday, February 7th at 10am. For more information or to register, call 323-655-5580 or email us at www.ecdevelopment.org
Group leaders are Marilee Hartling RN, MFT and Ariko Yoshizawa, MA