Monday, October 12, 2009

Part 3: If I was having twins again: friends and family

After a slight hiatus due to a crazy life, I have returned! : )

By far, the most asked question I hear is: "I know someone who is having twins, how can I best be helpful?"


Maybe you should ask her.

Or her.

Or any one of my other family members, friends and church family that are a huge reason we made it through those first few months and now!

Oh - and Grandpas? . . .you were great too. : )

Ryan and I were beyond blessed by those around us.

Yet everyone who asks, emails, or calls me with "how can I best help someone I know?" wants specifics.

So here goes.

1. Take Initiative.

That probably is the most helpful thing you can do for the life of someone with twins. If you want to help, don't leave the request up to them.

I mean, think about it. How many of us are really good at asking more than a handful of people for help?

Maybe I'm the only one out there like that but I don't think I am.

So when offering to help, take initiative and try to be specific.

"I'd like to bring a meal over, what day next week works for you?"

"I've made a meal I'd love to just drop off today. You can use it tonight or put it in the freezer."

"I'd love to help with the kids, how about I give you a few days and you tell me what works best for you."

"Some friends and I would love to come clean, we're all free on wednesday's, do you have one that works for you?"

While all those requests still allow the individual to consider her own life, it takes away the need for her, during a chaotic and exhausting period of life, to remember, manage and request help.

If you're a good friend, and you know people are going to want to take meals, ask if you can organize meals for her. People can just call or arrange through you when they can take a meal.

It takes away the need to field phone calls, maintain a schedule and just have one more thing to think about.

We were SO blessed by the many meals we were given amidst those beginning months and the fact that I didn't have to think about who was coming or when they were going to be there was so nice.

My friends and family were incredible at all of this.

I don't even think they realized it but they were.

And not having to organize and manage it all was such a blessing.

2. Assume she needs helps sooner than you think (pre-babies) and longer than you think.

I don't know if you remember from an old post, but around 26 weeks, my doctor told me I wasn't allowed to be on my feet much, including in the kitchen.

So meals became a bit of an art at our house.

Yet when you are so aware how much help you will need AFTER babies come, it is hard to ask for help before they arrive (or it was for me anyways).

I have a few friends, who got together on a few different occasions, made up a bunch of meals, and dropped them off on my doorsteps with me never having a clue until I listened to message to look outside my front door.

Those meals were about as meaningful (if not more) as any meals I got after the babies.

They were thoughtful, unexpected and given without fanfare.

But how they blessed me (and Ryan too). : ) Yum.

In that same way, given the constant nature of twins, help with Ava was always appreciated. So after Grandma's started returning a little more to their daily lives, I again was so blessed by the friends who randomly took Ava, stopped by and checked in with how we were doing.

3. Consider the little things.

This is where my mom and Ryan's mom excelled (friends too, but I have to brag on the grandma's).

I can remember, one day when Barb was over helping, that she randomly decided to take Ryan's shirts home and iron them for him.

I think that meant as much to me as it did to Ryan.

Get ready to gasp.

I don't iron Ryan's shirts.


GASP. ; )

I'm awful at it and while I put in a valiant effort in the beginning of our relationship, the poor guy had to retouch his shirts so much that it was just one of the little tasks in our marriage we mutually agreed he would do. : )

So during a time in our life when Ryan was having to do more around the house and we had little to no down time to ourselves, it was HUGE to think there was an hour some night he wouldn't have to spend doing one more thing.

Barb's done that on multiple occasions and it's been a huge blessing.

4. Ask "how" you can help.

This is a question that will have a different answer at different stages of life with twins.

But if you are in the home of someone with new twins, this is a great question to ask on occasion.

Since I was nursing, I didn't always need people up at night with me (once I was nursing them together. Before that if a twin woke up early, I did need help at night).

But having them around in the morning so I could get a nap in was great.

Even just asking what specific things needed to be continually done is so nice to know because when you're in their home, they don't have to manage your schedule as well as the kids.

While I didn't do this, I've heard of people having a list of routine things around the house that needed to be done and as others did them each week, that individual crossed it off.

Then if someone new was in the house another day, they could see what still needed to be done without asking a tired mommy.

Or it even goes back to how I shared there were times I wanted someone to play with Ava so I could sleep, and other times I wanted to be the one playing with Ava.

So once twins are older and you're helping, it can even be "what's most helpful today?"

5. "Remember" them.

Maybe this is silly piece of advice to give.

But you may remember how I shared it was hard for me how shut-in I was those beginning months (we didn't take twins anywhere except for the doctors' the first TWO months)?

Ryan still would go to work or church, but I was pretty much at home.

I didn't have the time (or energy) to spend lots of time emailing or on the phone.

So having friends leave messages or send emails including me in their lives was hugely meaningful - especially when I felt like there wasn't a big burden of response.

I always say facebook and my blog were a saving grace those beginning months.

In two minutes, I could at least quick glance to see a little of what was occurring in my friends' lives and feels a little more "caught up."

I could let a large amount of people know how we were doing as opposed to emailing 20 different people.

See - it's not all bad! : )

We had friends call and ask to bring pizza over some friday night and just stay an hour.

Another friend came over with her kids one morning.

It still helped with Ava but let me feel like I got to spend sometime with a friend and not so isolated.

Now granted, I wouldn't have wanted people over every friday night and every morning : ), but having the ability to look at our schedule, pick the time, and then to have it was so much fun.

It made life feel a little more normal.

6. Consider the couple.

I hope this piece of advice doesn't come off wrong . . .but this is for anyone staying in the home.

The good news?

I get to give this advice from the life of someone who has been blessed by grandmas doing this RIGHT. : )

But when you've had twins, the blessing of lots of help can also be hard at times.

Because it often means that someone else is in your home pretty much 24/7 for a good length of time.

And it's people you like!!

Yet when someone else is always in your home, it can be hard to find personal space for yourself or to feel like a normal couple.

That was hard for me.

It can make it hard to feel in charge of your own home, your own kids or your own life.

It can make it hard to feel room to think.

So first off?

Please don't take it personally if they are ever a little grumpy.

Many times, it isn't necessarily something you could do differently or something you're not doing "right."

I have to chuckle as I get ready to write this, but sometimes it's simply the fact that you are there . . . and we know we're sunk without you.

Kind of goes back to me saying before there's a huge need for a lot of grace! : )

Obviously, when my own mom comes to help, she doesn't go back to her house for a night. She's
here (and we're VERY glad mom!!! : ) ).

Yet one thing my mother has always been fabulous at is being intentional in giving us space.

She'd purposely go get groceries in the evening.

She'd go connect with my sister's family for dinner.

She'd "need" to go shopping (although I strongly believe she was trying to be sweet and give us
some space).

Oh - and sometimes she would go to BED early because she was about as exhausted as us! : )

But what was so nice is that it gave Ryan and I moments where we got to just be a "normal" new mom and dad and take care of the babies ourselves.

There was very few times in early days when Ryan and I could each have a baby, Ava wasn't around needing attention and others weren't around.

So those moments became kind of sacred.

Or even (gasp), we just got to be in the same room, awake, and actually have normal down time together for an hour.

Mom didn't do it every night (and that would of been silly for us to expect her to), but she did do it.

And we appreciated it.

So be considerate of the couple's evenings when you are capable to do so.

I probably could write more . . .but I won't! : )

Most importantly, I pray this post doesn't have an air of expectation to it. People have just asked for specifics and so I tried to provide that.

To this day, I am still humbled by the support, help and love that was shown to us . . .and still is.

So to anyone I've ever missed the opportunity to say so,

Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts.

As always, feel free to comment or email any further questions to

God bless!