PARENTS

What Having Twins Is Really Like - One Year On

22/04/2015 11:28 | Updated 22 June 2015

Twins

My twin boys have stood, wobbled and crashed through the one year mark. They are no longer babies – the self-contained bundles I wrote about several months ago (What having twins is really like) – they're on the cusp of toddlerhood, ready to stand unsteadily on two feet and throw themselves off the nearest piece of furniture. It's an age that brings with it a whole new set of challenges, joys and irritations.

Here are some I've noticed.

1. Despite the unbreakable bond twins supposedly share, the moment mine are set free they instinctively crawl in opposite directions. Unless there is an open dishwasher nearby, in which case there's only one place they're both going: the cutlery basket.

2. Talking of travelling in opposite directions, they are completely different. Not quite in the same class as cinematic double act Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito (who were twins in, erm, Twins) – although one does speak with a strong Austrian accent – but their looks and personalities diverge considerably, almost to a worrying degree. Apparently you can make them with two dads.

The eldest (by 30 minutes) seems practical: he likes pointing at things and pressing buttons – he could probably do a pretty good job of tiling your bathroom. He is also fearless. The youngest is terrified by anything that isn't a close relative and even they have to avoid any sudden movements. Verbally, however, he is streets ahead. He hasn't quite swallowed a dictionary but he has nibbled on one, both literally and metaphorically.

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3. When a virus arrives in our house it brings several suitcases and stays for months, leaping from twin to twin and back again before unleashing itself on the rest of the family. If you're looking for the origin of the world's next superbug, come over to my place.

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Synchronised illness is particularly mind blowing when it involves diarrhoea.

4. I'm all for saving the planet – I only allow the heating on at Christmas, and that's everybody's main present – but anything that remotely adds to our already mountainous list of chores can go and take a leap into a landfill site. I'm looking at you reusable wipes and nappies.

5. Come to mention it, where are the wipes? "Has anybody seen the wipes?" I say this a lot.

6. It takes exactly three seconds for one-year-old twins to turn a pristine, perfectly ordered room into a scene from the World at War.

7. Twin parents carry out complicated risk assessments every day. Recently I was forced to park at the back of a supermarket car park, leading me into a decision-making maze that extended my shopping trip by several hours: which child should I take with me on my search for a twin trolley? Is it safer in the car or in my arms? Will I be arrested if I leave one of them unattended in the vehicle?

Equally, at home, when one heads for the stairs while the other makes his way towards the oven, I have to make a potentially life changing split-second choice. I base this on: who is in most danger; who is my favourite (I jest, I haven't decided which one is my favourite yet) and who is least likely to have filled his nappy.

8. They're finally starting to play together. And when I say 'play together' I mean hit each other with wooden spoons.

9. If you are changing one twin in a public place and there is something dubious on the floor, the other one will, without fail, crawl through it when you're not watching.

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10. Some say corralling twins is like herding cats. It's not. It's like herding a pair of tiny men who've been on the sambuca all day. At least cats have a sense of self preservation and are happy to clean up their own mess, albeit with their mouths.

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11. People I've never met before have a habit of telling me and my wife how blessed we are. And, yes, we are: two babies at the same time! What are the odds? About 1 in 65 apparently. But I don't feel blessed a lot of the time; I feel harassed, tired and occasionally like a moody teenager, "I didn't ask to have twins!" Obviously I can't imagine life without them – well I can and it involves holidays, sleep and cocktails.

12. Since my wife waved goodbye to maternity pay we've realised we can't afford to live without two salaries but we also can't afford to earn two salaries. Why? Because doubling nursery fees is almost as crippling to your finances as giving that nice man who emailed from Nigeria £5,000 to unlock a huge fortune that's been miraculously left to you.

If you're lucky this is when grandparents will step in and lend a reasonably priced (free) hand.

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13. The questions (as mentioned in What having twins is really like) continue. And my answers are becoming less and less amicable: of course they're twins you moron; yes, I'm shopping with several small children, my hands are very full, which makes this the least appropriate time to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger; they're not crying because they're tired, they're just terrified you might never stop talking.

14. Our five-year-old daughter continues to cope remarkably well. Far better than us. Rather than complain about their presence she has merely incorporated her brothers into the gymnastics routines she regularly performs in our front room, skilfully cartwheeling between them as they scramble around looking for something to choke on.

She also loves pushing their buggy. Sometimes into oncoming traffic, but we're sure that's an accident.

More by Chris Windle on the twin experience: Help! We're expecting twins

Look out for Chris's book Why Men Skim Stones: An Illustrated A-Z of Modern Man out on June 4

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