Twins: 17 tips for staying sane under twin stress

Emotional Issues

Physical exhaustion often translates into emotional stress. When parents feel depleted but children's demands are on-going, depression, irritability, and a sense of inadequacy are common responses. The mother of twins who says, "I'd feel great if only I could get out or get some sleep," will probably feel the emotional doldrums lifting when her physical needs are met.

But sometimes the stress of caring for multiples can call into question emotional issues that run deeper. If parents assume they should always feel boundless "natural" or "instinctive" love, they may experience self-doubt when the demands of young children exceed their emotional supply, according to a counselor who works with mothers of twins. She says it's not unusual for parents of multiples in this situation to experience a guilt-laden secret wish for a single child instead.

The mother whose self-image is modeled on Superwoman may also be a high-stress candidate. The Supermom of television advertising may be able to handle all crises perfectly at all times, but such expectations in real life are usually a recipe for disaster, especially with multiples. When the demands of twins upset fixed schedules and efficiency, a "Supermom" may find herself resenting her children for "sabotaging" her best-laid plans. If her idea of being a good mother means always being well-organized and in control, loosening her grip may seem like losing a precious part of herself.

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