It’s a joyous event when a close friend or relative gives birth to twins. Even before the delivery, a twin pregnancy often brings an outpouring of offers to the expecting parents.
While these are offered with good intentions, it’s important to realize that having twins and bringing them home is usually a very stressful event. It’s not an easy adjustment for any family, and certain types of “assistance” might do more harm than good. If you’d like to truly help and support a new family with multiples, here are some things you can do.
- Resist the urge to pop in. When the twins come home, often the first thing that relatives and friends offer is to come visit. You should be aware with two infants and minimal sleep, hygiene and personal appearance are among the first things to go out the window. Unless you’re a first-degree relative or best friend, you probably shouldn’t visit for a couple of weeks. And no matter who you are, please don’t turn up at the door unannounced! Ask first, with plenty of advance notice, and don’t overstay your welcome. There will be plenty of opportunities to visit when people start showering regularly again.
- Give the gift of…. A little something to show that you care and make the new parents feel extra special will mean a lot. A membership to the local Mothers of Twins club, subscription to Parents magazine, or other gift will win you lots of points.
- Deliveries are welcome. A few relatives sent us flowers, gifts, or cards through the hospital gift shop. This seems like a small thing, but it was very thoughtful and took virtually no effort on our end. The staff just delivered them with card and set them on display for our enjoyment. Care packages delivered to the home were nice too.
- Think hand-me-downs. Twins require lots of baby gear, and much of it won’t be covered by shower gifts (especially if the parents already have children). We gladly accepted many generous offers of hand-me-downs of clothes, strollers, and other necessities. Some came from relatives with older children, some were offered by casual but sympathetic acquaintances. Parents of twins might not be able to use everything you offer, but the sentiment will be duly appreciated.
- Buy us dinner. Prepared meals, be they a frozen casserole or a hot pizza or delivered carryout, are a godsend. Cooking and running out for food are errands that new parents of twins will happily skip thanks to your generosity. Heck, even a bag of groceries can help in those first few chaotic weeks.
- Visitors: Support first, socialize second. It’s wonderful to have a visitor whose goal is to help us out, not get a sneak-peek at the precious newborns or socialize with their exhausted parents. Relief troops who are willing to tidy up, cook dinner, wash dishes, do laundry, help with babyproofing, and/or handle any wakeful babies (or siblings) while their mother naps are true heroes.
- Baby supplies. As newborns, a pair of twins will go through a box of 140-150 diapers per week. That’s a lot. Newborn twins often are supplemented with or primarily fed on infant formula, powdered gold that goes quickly (and proportionally to the diapers). A delivery of these key staples, or even a gift card with them in mind, will be appreciated. Do check on brand and size preferences to make sure you get that right.
- Send congratulations and support. The pregnancy and the first few weeks (months? years?) with newborn twins can be hard on parents. Flowers, cards, or e-mails of congratulations and offers of support (“Call me anytime, 24/7, if you need something”) will go a long way.