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Help for Parents of Multiples on Avoiding Such High Divorce Rates

This blog post was written (by me!) back in 2009. Of course, Jon and Kate are divorced now, the kids are grown, and I am pretty sure the couple do not even have contact with each other anymore... but the post still holds true!

 

The season premiere of Jon and Kate Plus 8 sparked interest among many parents of multiples as well as singletons.  Kate made a comment about parents of multiples having “triple the divorce rate” as parents without multiples.  Statistics actually do show that the added stress among parents of multiples does in fact lead to a divorce rate that is two to three times higher than the average divorce rate. 

 

There are various reasons for this.  Financially, the cost of having multiples is almost if not actually double (or triple or more, considering higher level multiples) the cost of having a singleton.  And before the babies even arrive, the family needs to invest in double or more money to prepare for the arrival:  two cribs, two bassinets, two car seats,  a double stroller, double clothing, double bottles, two bouncy seats…  the list can go on and on.  And then of course there is formula, diapers and wipes for two (or three, or more) babies!

 

The lack of sleep in the first days and weeks (and sometimes months) of the babies’ arrival is compounded with the need to feed and diaper more than one baby multiple times in the middle of the night (and through the day), resulting in fatigue, irritability, and an overall added stress to the individuals and the couple.  The anxiety over being able to handle multiples can cause a lot of stress also.  Plus, many of the families with multiples have already gone through months or even years of infertility treatments to get pregnant, and this may have already put stress on the marriage – even before the babies arrive!

 

Some helpful ideas to consider if you and your spouse or partner has or is expecting multiples:

 

-          Accept the offer of help from others, even something simple as accepting a meal prepared by a neighbor (which will save you the prep time and cooking time that you can use to take a bubble bath or watch your multiples sleep peacefully!)

-          Ask your extended family members to help out.  Grandmothers and Grandfathers may not want to clean a toilet as much as they want to feed the babies, but you can still utilize that time to get a manicure or take a nap.  You could also take that time to clean the toilet yourself, but if you are totally stressed out, the toilet can wait!

-          If you do not have family close by, invest in a nanny.  If your budget won’t allow a nanny, consider a teenaged “Mommy’s Helper” even for ONE hour a day one to three days per week.

-          Consider taking baby gear from friends who have children that have outgrown them, or consider consignment shops or donated baby items to save money.

-          If you think that you (or your spouse) are experiencing post partum depression, seek out help.  There are many organizations out there dealing with PPD, and you can always make an appointment to see a counselor or psychologist to discuss your concerns.  The Mayo Clinic might be a place to start.

-          Seek out a support system of other parents with multiples.  Google “local parents with multiples groups” to find a group near you.  Twins Magazine (www.twinsmagazine.com) has a great forum for parents of multiples grouped by birth month and year of your babies.  You can find other parents who have children at the same stages as yours.

-          Try to establish a routine from the very start.  If you haven’t already, it is never too late to begin a pattern or routine.  You need to be consistent and maintain the same pattern every day.  Babies love routines, and after a few days they will expect it and it will become easier.

-          Remind yourself (and really listen!) that you do not have to be a superwoman (or superman), and remember that if your spouse is the primary caregiver of the babies, he or she is not a superperson either!  If the laundry needs to stay in a dirty pile on the floor so that you can get that extra hour to rest, so be it!  The laundry will still be there tomorrow!

-          Ask your spouse or partner for help.  If you are a single parent, ask extended family or friends for help.  Churches and other organizations have volunteers who would be willing to send someone to spend a few hours with you to help out, even if it is to keep you company so you do not feel like you are losing your mind.

-          To save money and ease your pocket, consider store brand formula and diapers.  Wal-mart’s Parent’s Choice brand formula is a great alternative to those pricey name brand formulas… and they are just as good (if not better!)

-          If you need to let a baby (or two) cry for a little bit so you can tend to the other one or something else (such as a burning dinner) so be it!  It won’t hurt a baby to cry for a little bit… actually babies NEED to cry to develop!

-          Take time out for yourself as well as taking time out for your relationship.  Enjoy that bubble bath, put candles out on the dining table and have dinner after the babies are asleep (even if you order a pizza!) so you and your spouse can talk about “adult” things and not focus on diapers or drool for even a few minutes!

 

 

Every partner in a marriage/relationship with children needs to be open and honest with his or her partner about the stresses and concerns they are experiencing.  This is just as true with parents of multiples.  Maintain open communication with your spouse or partner.  Let him/her know what is on your mind, what is bothering you, what areas you can use help in, and don’t forget that you were a couple first before you were parents of these little miracles!  A person needs to take care of him/herself before being happy in his/her relationship, and to be good parents together, the couple needs to focus some time on each other.  Enjoy yourselves and remember what brought you both together in the first place!

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