Twins: 17 tips for staying sane under twin stress

Physical Stress

In the early weeks and months, a major cause of physical stress among parents of multiples may be lack of sleep and exercise, and irregular meals. Even with sufficient time to rest, handling an around-the-clock cycle of feeding and diapering babies and doing laundry is hard enough, especially if there are other siblings to care for. But trying to do all this while you're deprived of your own physical needs is like losing the oil-drain plug on your car at 60 m.p.h. everything comes-to a screeching halt!

While there are no magic remedies for the physical stress of caring for multiples, especially newborns, a first necessity is finding help. Don't be afraid to ask relatives and friends or regular baby-sitters to provide relief. If you are a single parent, you might discover some resources by reaching out to your community services. Remember that it will be easier for anyone to help you if you suggest specific tasks, such as feeding or bathing one of the babies, taking them out for a stroll, shopping, cleaning the kitchen, or preparing a meal.

Other helpful coping techniques include taking naps when getting a full night's sleep seems impossible, or eating small, more frequent meals when there's no time to prepare a full meal. Although resting when the children are napping may mean sacrificing the satisfaction of "getting things done" you'll be rewarded with renewed energy. And it is possible to maintain good nutrition with frequent snacks of cheese, raw vegetables and fruits, whole grain sandwiches, eggs or soup.

Just don't fall into the trap of relying on coffee, cola and junk foods high in sugar and fat to keep yourself going. Adequate vitamin intake, especially of the B-complex vitamins, has been linked to stress reduction, but beware of substituting supplements for balanced nutrition.

Physical exercise may not appeal to you when you're exhausted, but regular activities such as a walking, jogging, stretching, yoga, swimming, bicycling and aerobics can actually be energizing. Meditation also can reduce stress and increase your energy level. Whatever you choose, make it something you enjoy, rather than just one more obligation, and try to keep the emphasis on relaxation and realistic expectations. Then make a "sacred" time for that activity on a daily or weekly basis. With appropriate exercise, you may find your sleep and appetite improving as well as your energy level.

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