When preparing to welcome multiples, many parents are overwhelmed at the prospect of accumulating so much "stuff." From cribs and car seats to bouncy seats and bottles, the list of needs grows and grows. It's time to let

Elizabeth Lyons

 

When preparing to welcome multiples, many parents are overwhelmed at the prospect of accumulating so much "stuff." From cribs and car seats to bouncy seats and bottles, the list of needs grows and grows. It's time to let expectant and new parents in on some lesser-known necessities -- necessities whose benefits those of us who've been-there-done-that swear by. Finders key purse
Whether you are a new mom of two babies or ten, it can be frustrating to stand for what feels like hours in the middle of a parking lot, digging through the duffel bag you call a purse, in search of your car keys. For years I had a key bracelet that I wore on my wrist as I shopped. It held the keys to my car, and my house, and about twenty other locks to which I no longer even have access. It also held my preferred customer cards to no fewer than sixteen establishments. It had become a wrist weight of sorts, and it had to go.

A new product is now available that cannot be beaten. It's called Finders Key Purse�. It's a hook that you place over the top of one side of your purse. The outside (which hangs on the outside of your bag) is a decorative charm. The inside has a clasp on which to hook your keys. I still keep my five-pound key bracelet in my purse, but I store my most-often-used keys and preferred cards on the Finders Key Purse� clasp. I've cut down my time in parking lots (not to mention cash registers while searching for the proper discount card) by at least seventy-five percent.

Headset phone
Once at home with your new babies, it's important to stay connected to the outside world. Constantly stabilizing the phone using your ear and shoulder as two sides of a crank is hard on your neck. Additionally, it isn't fun to be using this approach while holding a baby (or two) and suddenly notice the phone beginning to slip. The world spins in slow motion as that coveted connection to someone -- anyone -- who will speak to you in a language you understand slides further and further away, finally dropping five feet to the ground.

A headset phone is invaluable when you have babies in the house. You can feed, change, or hold babies, cook, clean, and talk at the same time! Many newer phones have a headset plug already installed on the side. If yours does, you can simply purchase a headset. If not, it would be worth the investment to purchase a phone that does have this functionality.

Non-parenting book
As you anticipate the arrival of your little ones, how many parenting/pregnancy books have taken up residence in your home? My bet is that there are no less than ten. I'll let you in on a secret: you will be reading about some aspect of parenting or the ins and outs of childhood behavior for the next eighteen years. Wonderful resources are available, and a new parenting expert comes onto the scene every few months. Therefore, it's easy to get to a point where your bedside table is filled with parenting books, and you've read just about all you can regarding getting babies on a schedule and/or taming temperamental behavior.

It's important to maintain a supply of non-parenting books. You need a book to immerse yourself in when none of the parenting books' proposed strategies have worked terribly well thus far. You need a book to read when you've had a long day and need a good laugh. A few of my favorites: Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik, The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger, and The Year of Living Famously by Laura Caldwell. Next on my own list is Annie Freedom's Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish because the cover depicts an experience that just plain looks fun and the title is too intriguing to ignore!

 

Meal plans
"What's for dinner?" will probably be a frequently uttered question once your babies arrive. When our twin boys were newborns, I often didn't even realize what time it was until my husband walked through the door at six o'clock. Getting organized in the meal-planning department will save you a good bit of anxiety and whole lot of evenings spent debating cereal varieties.

The feature article of the April edition of my Managing Multiples newsletter will detail five innovative strategies for beating the dinner-time blues. Please visit my website to sign up for the newsletter.

Pacifier holder
As frustrating as not being able to find your car keys in the middle of a parking lot (possibly in a hail storm) is not being able to locate a pacifier when you really need one (or two). There are several brands of pacifier holders now available. These cases hook onto your purse or diaper bag, and typically one case can accommodate at least two pacifiers. They are inexpensive, so it's a good idea to store them on each and every bag you might take out with you.

If you're in the market for a trendy pacifier case, check out the Essentials Pacifier Pod. Other varieties are also available. They are often sold alongside pacifiers in the baby section of many stores.

Formula dispenser
This product is easy to overlook. New parents often mistake its purpose since it's frequently called a Powdered Milk Container. The dispenser is divided into three sections. If you are formula-feeding one baby or both, you can fill each section with the proper amount of formula for each feeding. When it's time for a baby to eat, you empty the section with, say, two ounces worth of formula powder into a bottle filled with two ounces of water.

This dispenser is especially handy when you are going somewhere and don't want to take an entire can of formula with you. It is also helpful for nighttime feedings during which you're so tired that it's difficult to determine whether or not the scooper is full before dumping it into the bottle! We had two dispensers, one for each baby. If the babies are on two different types of formula, this product can be especially handy -- just be sure to label each dispenser with the appropriate baby's name.

Support
No, I am not referring to the perfect postpartum bra (though that's important too!). Many new moms are fortunate to be surrounded by impartial and supportive friends and family who nurture and dote on her as she adjusts to her new role as a mom. In other cases, however, moms report feeling anxious and sad because, for example, her mother-in-law is chastising her for not breastfeeding; her own mother continues to take over with regard to baby care; or a close friend continues to mention all of the "fun" activities the new mom has, at least temporarily, traded for round-the-clock diaper changing and laundry folding.

Before your babies are born, identify at least one friend or family member who you know will support you no matter your choices. Whether you desperately want to breast feed even though it may not go perfectly at first, you opt to formula feed for one of a whole host of reasons, or you want to dress the babies exactly alike despite protests from everyone within a four-block radius, you need someone you can count on to be your own personal cheerleader -- whether it's twelve o'clock noon or three o'clock in the morning. This is the person whose opinion you'll value over everyone else's because she is someone who truly has your best interests at heart.

Nourishing lotion
Do not underestimate how often you will wash your hands with two newborn babies in the house. Even if you wash only after each diaper change, it will equate to approximately twenty-four hand washings per day in the beginning. Before long, the skin on your hands will resemble that of an elephant if you don't care for them from the get-go. Keep a thick, nourishing lotion by each sink and apply it after each hand washing. If it's wintertime, apply lotion each time you're near that sink for any reason.

Scented candles
Before long, many new moms begin to feel a bit cooped up. Whether it's the middle of July and the humidity level is at ninety-nine percent, or the middle of winter and there are twelve inches of snow on the ground, a soothing aroma can make a positive impression on your demeanor. Products from Yankee Candle Company have kept our original "multiples" sorority content for years. Purchase a Tart burner and some Tarts to keep on hand. Invest in a variety of scents: Lavender for moments when you need to feel more calm, Lilac Blossoms or Lily of the Valley for days when you're longing for spring, or Pumpkin Pie for occasions when you want to fool guests into thinking you recently baked one!

Disposable changing pads
These changing pads have more uses than away-from-home diaper changes! Disposable Changing Pads are great to put underneath a baby bathtub if the bathtub is being used anywhere but inside an adult-sized tub. They are also great to put underneath a humidifier or vaporizer if you ever need to put one in your babies' room when they are congested. The pads prevent water from accumulating on either the carpet or hardwood below. They are also great to put on furniture when you're potty training your twins, but don't worry -- you've got a ways to go before you have to think about that!

Portable refrigerator
Kristi Neal, mother of two-week-old identical twin girls, suggests that all new parents of multiples purchase a small (1.8 cubic feet or so) refrigerator to place in their babies' room. This will allow you to store bottles of breast milk or formula for nighttime feedings, preventing you from having to make a trip to the kitchen. (Another idea: store a small snack in the fridge for you as well. You don't realize how hungry you might be at 4:00 a.m. until you're sitting in silent darkness feeding someone else!)

Closet organizers
I'll admit, I always thought that closet organizers that compartmentalize clothing by size, such as the Baby Buddy Size-It Closet Organizers, were foolish. That is, until I had twins. At times, it can be nearly impossible to discern how many items you have in specific sizes -- especially if your twins share a closet. There appears to be so much in there, but it's often not clear how much there is of each size. It's easy to go shopping, find a cute outfit (or twelve) and think, "Oh, this is so cute, and in my sleep-deprived delirium, I swear that the kids have hardly any clothing in this size!" You then return to their closet with the plethora of new overalls or dresses with matching tights and think, "Oh dear, I forgot they had these outfits...and these outfits...and these."

I do not know a mother of twins who has not professed either, "I had so many 0-3 month outfits that the kids never had a chance to wear!" or "Somehow, two days after I did laundry, the 3-6 month supply was already depleted!" Closet organizers require a minimal investment, and they'll save you a fortune on clothing your kids will likely never don.

While raising multiples, necessity is often the mother of invention. No doubt, over the years you'll identify even more must-haves that aren't listed on any registry. When you do, I'd love to hear about them! PregnancyAndBaby.com

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