1. Get the right wheels! We aren’t talking about your car here; we are talking about your stroller. Because in one day in our fine city you could find yourself rolling over concrete, dirt, cobblestone, grass and more, and having air filled tires on your stroller can make your day a whole lot better. Air tires provide support and flexibility you can’t get from foam filled or EVA (ethlyne vinyl acetate) tires. Also, if you end up having twins with a size discordance (one twin is bigger than the other) you can adjust the pressure in the tires to make your stroller push straight. Great options include: Stroll-Air, Britax B-Ready, Baby Jogger Citi Mini GT, Valco Twin Tri-Mode.
2. Know your hood! Even before your twins get here, it’s good to scope out your local area. Look for playgrounds with one entrance/exit, a gated area around the swings (if there are any), a bathroom close by. onus for a dedicated toddler area. Finding a park with all these elements is going to be tough but necessary when you have two little ones running in different directions.
3. It’s in the bag! When purchasing a diaper bag or even an everyday tote bag, make sure you get one that has a very large stroller strap and very little weight to it when empty. Once your twinnies are walking, it will be vital to have a bag that will be totally hands-free so you can use your hands for your kiddos. Skip Hop has some great options, but don’t be afraid to pick up a messenger bag or a laptop bag to do the job.
4. Map it out! I remember when I found out I was pregnant I was devastated thinking how I was going to navigate our urban jungle with my twinnies in tow. I soon discovered (at around 9 months) that the subway was my perfect mode of transport. I would pack up the kids and schlep up and down the subway stairs with my compact stroller (at the time it was a Maclaren Twin Techno), my diaper bag, a baby in a carrier and a baby in my arms. I would venture up to the Bronx Zoo solo. Yes, this trip took some planning. I knew what subways had working elevators, which had the fewest steps, etc. Knowing the route you are going to take from point A to point B will make your trip smoother and help you do everything a parent of a singleton can do. Be sure to call 511 to find out about service outages and if the elevators at your station are working.
5. Be ready for narrow spaces! When you travel down the aisles of your local supermarket or drug store, you’ll start seeing that this city isn’t really built for your side by side double stroller. You’ll notice how narrow your doctor’s office hallway is. You’ll notice that you might not get yourself and your twins through the gate at the playground. I remember taking my kids to a music class when they were 18 months old, only to get there and find out that my double stroller didn’t even fit in the elevator. Just so you know, the American Disabilities Act states that aisles must be 40 inches wide to accommodate a wheelchair in any newly constructed store. Since most double strollers are around 28 inches, you should have plenty of room; however, this is not always the case. So if you should enter a Duane Read and knock down a display of Gillette razors that were in the way, that aisle should have been cleared.
6. Stay home? Most parents assume that after three months on maternity leave, they will return to work, get a full-time nanny, and go about their days without ever calculating the cost of staying at home as an alternative. Before your kids even get here, if possible, sit down and do some math. Figure out how much you pay in commuting transportation, clothing, eating out, business trips, etc. Deduct that from your yearly salary. See what your bottom line is. Now figure out the cost of a nanny, taxes, benefits, items you wouldn’t have to pay for if you were home (such as laundry, ordering food, and cleaning services), and deduct that from your salary, as well. Some parents find that after all the math is done, the money you are earning isn’t enough to miss all the kids’ firsts and take on the hectic lifestyle that working parents have to deal with. Do the math and find out your true bottom line.
7. Kiss more! With the rate of divorce for parents of multiples being higher than the national average, take a few minutes each day to smooch. Not the kiddies, but your spouse. Make sure that you take a little time for each other to check in every day. Ask how your partner’s day was, and mean it. Hug for no reason. Heck, send a few dirty texts his/her way to spice it up. Moral of the story: Don’t forget your spouse.
8. Don’t be shy. In our city—even though we are 9 million strong—it can be tough to make friends. Once you become a parent, it actually becomes a bit easier. You now have common ground with other parents on the playground. It doesn’t matter if you worked for a top law firm or for McDonald’s, neither of you slept at all last night, and yes, that is dried puke on both of your shirts. Make friends; join our community. NYC has the largest local parents of multiples club in the nation. The Manhattan Twins Club (check out manhattantwinsclub.com) is where I started Twiniversity—an online community for parents in search of information and advice regarding twins. With over 900 members right here in the tri-state area, you can get your questions answered, find a friend, and see what other parents are talking about 24 hours a day.
9. Don’t flee the city! I didn’t have a lot of things that other folks in the ‘burbs have (like a backyard to run around or a bathtub to enjoy), but I grew up with street smarts that can never be taught but only learned through experience. The city brought opportunities right to my front door and I tried (and still try) not to pass any up. The twins are the fifth generation of my family growing up in NYC and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Central Park is our backyard. The Metropolitan is our local museum. My kids ate curry and Thai food before they could even talk. I will never have to explain what diversity is because we live it.
10. Life is an adventure—enjoy the ride! Yes, raising kids in this city is challenging. Yes, raising kids in this city is expensive. Yes, raising kids in the city can be hard, but guess what? It will be totally worth it. Speaking from experience, I am one of the only native New Yorkers I know and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Natalie Diaz is a native New Yorker and the founder of Twiniversity. She also writes for New York Family’s baby blog. When not busy running after her 7-year-old twins, she is a twin parenting professional who helps any parent of multiples in need. Have a question for Nat or a question about raising your twins in the city? Email her today at [email protected].
To read Natalie’s strategies for celebrating with twins, check out “Happy Birthday To You…And You, Too!“