As a Mom of Twins, Are You Feeling Personally Fulfilled?

If you ask any mom today, especially a mom of twins or more, if she is feeling personally fulfilled with her daily life, and she may say “absolutely”! Another may answer that she is not. Ask another mom this question the morning following a sleepless night up with sick kids, and she may tell you … to bite her. When my first set of twins were six months old, my husband Bruce and I moved away from Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington DC, where we had lived and built our careers for nine years. We relocated, for reasons that included getting out of the crazy traffic of the Capital Beltway, as well as the desire to be closer to both of our families, and found ourselves in Gainesville, Florida. This particular city became our new home because Bruce received the best employment offer from a growing architectural firm there out of the several companies where he’d sent resumes in the various areas we’d considered relocating to. Though we were now closer to our families, we were not, however, in the same towns. In fact, we were still two hours by car from my parents, and ten hours from Bruce’s family. When the boxes were unpacked and we were finally settled into our two bedroom apartment, a particular realization of loneliness, isolation and culture shock descended upon me. My former life as a wife and professional no longer existed, and not only did we leave our home, city, jobs, friends and everything else familiar to us for the previous nine years of our lives, but I was now a full-time mom of two babies, and  …. well, that now summed up my life. Keeping constantly connected to friends on a daily basis wasn’t as easy as it is today. In 1995, the internet was just developing, and Mark Zuckerberg was only 11 years old. I kept in touch with my long-distance friends and family by phone, and was grateful when Bruce came home from work in the evenings. I loved my baby girls very much, and they kept me very busy. I took them up to our apartment pool, and for stroller walks around our complex, to the grocery store, the mall, and to a nearby park where a beautiful lake surrounded by a paved strolling/jogging path was it’s center focal point. I still, however, felt separated. Although I loved my life as a mom, especially after wanting to become a mom for so long, I missed my job … my old life. I missed enjoying my lunch hour with coworkers and friends, being challenged by projects at work, and needless to say, sleeping uninterrupted each night (but that’s another topic)! I took the advice of friends who were also moms and decided to contact the local twins club there in Gainesville so I could connect with other moms of twins. I also joined the Parents of Preschoolers group at our new church. Interacting with other women who were experiencing similar circumstances, or who were just wanting to form friendships, was the key for me to no longer feel alone and isolated. One area was still lacking for me, however. By the time my girls were about 18 months old and no longer breastfeeding, I contacted the creative department head who had been my boss in the corporation I worked for up in DC. We had discussed my freelancing for her before we had moved away, and I was now ready to work again. Granted, it would only be very part-time because my hands were very full with my toddlers, but I was ready to work, if only on a very part-time basis. Once I began to propose layouts and designs again, and receive rewarding feedback, I felt my self-confidence sky rocket. I had regained my ability to contribute my skills, talents and experience back into the career that I loved and had worked hard to build. I was an exhausted, fulfilled, busy but very happy mom! The paycheck that arrived every two weeks only added to the benefits of self esteem and growing self-worth. I was, of course, needed by my husband and my children, but knowing I was also needed in a professional capacity was enormously rewarding and fulfilling.  

My advice to mom of twins who desire personal fulfillment:

1) Realize that now as a mom, your life has now forever changed … but it can be better and more fulfilling than you ever imagined! 2) Count your blessings each day (your beautiful, healthy children, your supportive husband, the baby weight slowly ncoming off) because “a thankful heart is a happy heart” (yeah, I got that from a Veggie Tales song!) 3) Become involved in activities, organizations, clubs, church, and any other enjoyable activity where friendly human interaction is central to your involvement. 5) Take good care of yourself … don’t neglect your own needs such as exercise, wellness check-ups, quiet alone time, and regular salon/spa visits. 4) Hire a babysitter on a regular basis so you and your husband can go out and place “being parents” on temporary hold, and feel like “a couple” for a few hours. 5) Re-connect with your former career, or find a new one! My best advice is to find a way to work from home so that placing your children in day care or preschool too early isn’t an added expense for you, or time away from your children. (REMEMBER: they grow up SOOOOO fast!) And so to this day, two more sets of twins later, I’ve continued to enjoy my fulfilling life as a mom of now six children in addition to being a stay-at-home, work-from-home mother. I’ve also continued my involvement in my local twin club, church-related mothers organizations and ministries … all of which have kept me busy, productive, happy and, I believe, a strong role model for my children, especially my three daughters. If you’re like me, being able to stay involved with enjoyable activities, being available and flexible to plan my days around my children’s busy schedules, AND still being able to work from home to maintain and continue to develop my professional skills (and bring in needed income) could prove to give you a very rewarding life!

Are You Trying to be A SUPER MOM?

With a large family, there are many aspects of “keeping it together” that need to be maintained on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. While I no longer insist that the entire house is in complete order as I once did before I had children, it is important to me to keep on top of the daily tasks and finances in order to keep our home and lives running as smoothly and as organized as possible! I’ve been asked on occasion if it’s possible to maintain an organized home with lots of kids. Honestly, some days don’t run as smoothly as I’d like, but for the most part, we all pitch in so that we all benefit from our team efforts.

7 Suggestions for Maintaining Controlled Chaos (well, most of the time):

Many share in the messing; many share in the cleaning.

1– Stay on top of daily chores: Keeping on top of the never-ending laundry, the ongoing kitchen tasks with meal prep and clean up, keeping the pantry and refrigerator stocked with the meals for the week ingredients as well as basic staples, paying the bills and keeping control of the household budget simply are musts! But do I do it all on my own? Of course not!

2– Delegate: In our home, our four older kids each have a list of jobs to do around the house that are clearly posted in the kitchen for all to read and refer to (which, of course, they so appreciate being reminded about). Because two kids are 16 and two kids are now 12, each are required to take turns with dinner dishes and folding two large loads of laundry on alternating days in addition to their homework. Our 16-year-old daughters are to keep their shared bathroom clean (not that they always do the perfect job at it) and to help take care of their little brothers for me while I run errands. All are expected to keep their rooms in order as well as the upstairs loft which they all share to play games, computer work, homework and TV-watching.

3– Divide up tasks over several days: I try not to feel like it all has to be done everyday. I’ll spread my tasks out over a few days. For example, I’m content that the bathrooms get thorough cleanings on Mondays, vacuuming gets done on most Wednesdays, and dusting is saved for Thursdays, so that cleaning gets done once a week. The kitchen floor may not get completely mopped each day, but it requires sweeping and spot-washing several times a day.

4– Communicate/Post schedules: As for the children’s after-school activities, as schedules seem to constantly change, we communicate daily as to who needs to be where and when. A large, erasable calendar is posted for all to see showing Brandon’s baseball schedule, Erin’s soccer schedule, and Kathryn’s dance classes, Lauren’s Thespian (drama) club, social activities and presently, Driver’s-ed classes. My 8-seater van shuttles everyone all over the place, but I also have a carpool arrangement with another family. Right now, I have four kids in two different schools, and it’s a real challenge making sure that everyone gets to and from their activities daily.

5– Be money-conscious: Many families with several children are tightly budgeted, which is no easy thing to do. While it can become a habit to place this or that on credit cards when there’s more month than money, it’s frighteningly simple for spending to get out of hand. Before you know it, you’re in deep debt! Our motto is: if we don’t have the cash for it, we don’t buy it. I plan out the dinners for a week and stick to those ingredients so that I’m not tempted to buy lots of extras. I take advantage of sales, coupons and on occasion shop at second-hand stores for kids play clothing, etc. I believe that living this way is teaching our children to appreciate what we have and to respect the costs of daily life.

6– Take care of yourself: When the busy day full of home care and shuttling is over, find an outlet to relax. It’s important not to be hard on yourself when things don’t run as smoothly as you wish, so cut yourself some slack. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s what’s important! Exercise! I actually exercise in the evenings, followed by a hot shower or relaxing bath. The stress relief from endorphin release during physical activity, followed by the hormone oxytocin that the body releases while being soothed in warm water is the perfect prescription for relaxation! Additional Stress Reducers: Some evenings I go out to meet a friend for coffee and dessert or a movie. I also love to go to movies all by myself, allowing myself to get immersed in a good love story or comedy. After having the chance to take a break, I’m a much happier wife and mom!  🙂

7– Go on a date with your husband! Get out once a week or so, just the two of you. Reconnecting often as a couple is VITAL to the longevity, renewal and healthiness of your marriage!

 

You know, people say to me all the time, “Fran, I don’t know how you do it!And often I’ll answer, Some days I do, and some days I don’t!” And that’s the truth … some days go as smoothly as a well-oiled machine, and other days seem to be fraught with a hundred little fires that need to be put out one by one, just like most families experience daily! So delegate the house work tasks, and accept help, take care of yourself, and above all, don’t try to do it all on your own …

And here’s a good question: What is our ultimate goal as moms?

Is it to raise our children to become self-sufficient, independent, life-skilled, confident, responsible adults?

YES!

And there’s no better training for our kids than to entrust them with chores, responsibilities, and expect no less than their best efforts in return for our trust, and in the process, we provide them with our unconditional love, support and encouragement (with doses of correction and redirection when needed!).

 SO, in choosing to raise our kids this way …

We ARE SUPER MOMS after all!