Attachment Parenting is something that came naturally for us. Not that we don’t struggle just like everyone, but it fit our family best. We didn’t even realize there was a name for it or such a following of it in the beginning. Although, online mommy groups certainly made me aware very quickly that this was the box we fit into and this was the label we must use! One of the big concerns we had when we found out we would be welcoming two infants to our family was if we could possibly follow attachment parenting with twins, as well as a toddler and a kindergartener. Not just the twins but the older kids would surely suffer a loss in attachment as well. I mean, we’ll be outnumbered 2:1, 4:1 during the day for me. I can only split myself in so many directions.
The first couple weeks we tried to be “perfect”. It was almost as if we were trying to make all 4 kids feel like they were an only child in terms of our attention. Specifically, with the babies, I felt a need to really make up for my inability to breastfeed. And it just wasn’t working. It was overwhelming to say the least. So we sat down and re-evaluated what Attachment Parenting means.
While there are checklists of how to be AP, Attachment Parenting is not a strict set of rules. Attachment parenting is about creating a bond and an emotional trust. It’s about validating your child, responding to their emotional needs and respecting them as human beings. We realized we had to change our expectations. Then I reminded myself of Dr. Sears’ Seven Baby B’s – specifically the seventh – BALANCE!!
Do the best you can with the resources you have – that’s all your child will ever expect of you. These baby B’s help parents and attachment parenting babies get off to the right start. Use these as starter tips to work out your own parenting style – one that fits the individual needs of your child and your family.
Not that I needed permission to find my sanity again but it was nice to be reminded by Dr. Sears that yes, I matter too and it’s okay to not be the poster perfect AP mom.
We conceded slightly on co-sleeping. Our bed just wasn’t big enough for us to sleep comfortably with 2 infants. To be effective parents we need our sleep too. We sidecarred our crib to our bed. The babies are within reach and I can easily bring one over to cuddle if they need the extra attention but we are not crowded, especially when the older two decide to join us in the mornings. It’s okay though, we’re doing our best.
Babywearing was the one thing I knew I could prepare for in advance. Learning newborn holds in a wrap wasn’t too difficult when I had lots of previous practice with singletons. I only had to learn slight variations. Knowing I could do that was a saving grace for my sanity. As they grow there are a few carriers built specifically for twins that I can’t wait to try out. For now the wrap is snuggly and easy to use. I even used it to take 4 kids to the mall, by myself, when the babies were just 3 weeks old. To my surprise we had fun! Still, getting them in and out for feeding and diapering isn’t as simple as with one baby and with two babies in front of me I can’t do the housework I could with a singleton. Because of that, they aren’t worn for the short periods of time at home like my other two were. Another concession, but it’s okay. I’m doing my best.
When you have 2 babies crying you have to prioritize but that doesn’t mean ignoring the other either. Sometimes we may only be able to feed one while the other waits 5 minutes to be changed; Sometimes one has to wait 2 minutes to eat because the other one is almost completely asleep that extra minute or 2 will ensure he has a pleasant nap. I felt like doing this was a form of Cry it Out and it just broke my heart to hear any of my babies so upset, still does every time one of them cries. I’ve never let me older kids cry for more than a minute without running to their aid. It’s always been sheer instinct to just run to their aid when I hear crying. But I realized I wasn’t just leaving them to cry and walking away. While I attended to one I would talk to the other, rub a cheek if I could, sing a song, just all around make sure they knew I was present and doing my best.
As for our older two, they have been so helpful to me and are so kind and caring towards their baby brothers. They are beyond understanding when their needs cannot be immediately met. I credit this to the years of attachment parenting leading up to now. They feel secure, and they trust that their needs will not go unmet so there is no anxiety when I cannot jump up immediately.
I feel like as they age the attachment aspects will become easier. We will be busy constantly distracting them from things they can’t do and talking through tantrums, calming and consoling etc. But we will be able to AP with less concessions then, I hope. Do I expect to mess up often and have to get more creative with this many kids? Absolutely. We are not perfect parents, we never have been, we’re still learning as we go. But we’ll work through it and continue to do our best.
Written by Nikki Waring