We had twins as our first babies, so in sharing this, I have no other experience to compare it to! Naturally, with twins, there are two times as many nursing sessions, diapers to change, clothes to wash, but best of all, two babies to love! Being a twin Montessori stay-at-home mom has made the transition from 0 to 2 easier, and here is why. Our home environment has been prepared to meet both baby’s needs and supported me as a mother as well. I’ll share with you some things I have done and what I have learned so far about raising identical twins in a Montessori home.
Elements of a Montessori Home
There are so many aspects to a Montessori home, however, all of the details can fall under four categories: the prepared environment, the prepared adult, the art of observation, and knowledge of the needs of the child. Each of these elements is part of the Montessori method. Montessori education is based on the ideas and principles set forth by Maria Montessori. It is not just for school-aged children. In fact, a Montessori environment can start from birth! The early childhood years are so important as the child is guided by the absorbent mind. Let’s dive into these four elements of a Montessori home!
The Prepared Environment
In our Montessori home, I have created a prepared environment which simply means preparing it to meet the needs of the members of the family. For us, this meant adapting our spaces to meet the needs of parents of twins as well as two new beautiful human beings.
The first thing I focused on when preparing the environment was creating order and beauty that would cultivate peace. I thought through how we would need the spaces to function and made sure I had the things I needed in close proximity. For example, when I got home from the hospital with the twins I was doing a lot of pumping. We eventually were able to transition to all breastfeeding, but not right away. I spent the first few weeks upstairs in bed. We brought up a mini fridge and bottle warmer into our bedroom and prepared our master bathroom with all of the supplies needed to wash bottles and pump parts. Naturally, this changed over time but we needed to prepare the space to meet the current needs.
If you are expecting twins, think through how you want to recover. What things would you want around you? What comforts would you need? I also stocked the mini fridge with snacks! Seriously, during those 2 a.m. nursing sessions I would be starving!! I also had a basket of snacks right by my bedside. These small things helped make things easier.
The Prepared Adult
Probably even more important than the environment is how we as the adult are prepared. Let’s be honest, postpardum is challeniging,. We are healing physically, and emotionally and our hormones are all over the place. The best advice I have is to be gentle with yourself and ask for help. I seriously kept a mental list of people who said they would be willing to help. It was by getting lots of support, and I mean LOTS of support that I was able to navigate the first months with twins quite well.
We can’t ever totally prepare for something like a twin birth, I know my birth went very differently than I had hoped for. But we can do the work to find that inner peace, work on being able to ask for help, and take the time to make sure our own needs are being met in the midst of caring for the needs of two beautiful babies.
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The Art of Observation
Observation will be the only way to know what your babies need and how you can help meet those needs for them. Definitely, as they grow and develop it will become easier to know what they need, once they can differentiate their cries. By taking time to observe, we can grow in admiration and appreciation of these little bundles of joy. We can take note of the moment when they first discover their hand or are so fascinated with the features of your face. Taking time to observe these moments helped me to appreciate them more and care for them better in the challenging moments.
Knoweldge of the Needs of the Child
If possible, before your baby or babies arrive, take time to read about their needs and their development. The book “The Montessori Baby” is an incredible resource to get you thinking about all of the ways that you can support your baby or babies while they grow and develop.
Tips and Ways I Incorporate Montessori with Twins
Here are four ways I have incorporated Montessori with twins in our home.
Freedom of Movement
In our home, we have created an environment that allows for the most possible freedom of movement. We didn’t buy two baby saucers or two swings to contain the babies in. These “containers” can inhibit their freedom of movement. However, there were moments when I used a Baby Bjorn bouncer to bounce one baby while I fed the other baby. I found this necessary for when I was alone with both babies and they were not happy being on the floor but I also couldn’t hold them myself becuase I was feeding the other baby. Obviously, this isn’t ideal but I accepted that there were going to have to be a few compromises and we wouldn’t be able to do everything the Montessori way. This particular bouncer was not battery operated and was very minimal in terms of space it took up.
There is no shortage of opportunities to talk to your babies when you have two of them! One of the key Montessori things I did, especially as a newborn, was sportscasting. This simply was telling the babies what I was going to do before doing it or while I was doing it. For example, saying something like “I’m going to lay you down now. I’m going to take off your pants. This leg first. Now this leg.” etc. By telling our babies what we are doing we are both giving many opportunities for language development as well as honoring them as a participant in what is happening to their bodies. This will help lead them to more opportunities for independence in dressing down the road.
The best thing I did was ask for help. One of the biggest challenges during the day was simply not having enough hands, and just feeling spread too thin. Seriously, I had someone come to my house to help me pretty much every day for the first three months. Not necessarily all day, but even for a few hours. This was so helpful. It allowed me to focus on the needs of the babies and myself and be able to pass off some of the household responsibilities.
Having a clean and orderly home is really important to me, so having the help allowed the house to keep functioning even without me doing the things. I accepted before the babies were born that I would need help. I made a plan with my family members and friends on who could help out. It was uncomfortable to ask at times, but I’m so glad I did. Even people whom I wasn’t particularly close with helped me out. Moms who no longer have young children at home love to help out! One day I even had my sister-in-law’s mother-in-law help out. Whenever someone told me “Oh, I would love to help” I would respond by saying, “Really?! Great! I’m gonna write your name down and reach out to you.” and I did.
We had a meal train set up and would be brought meals many times a week during the first few weeks. This was such a gift and I would recommend it to anyone with a new baby!
Birth and the first year of life are full of so many changes! I was very aware that it would be full of new and challenging things. For example, breastfeeding. I knew that it would be a challenge, especially with twins. It was going to be a learning curve for me as well as for the boys. I anticipated that it would also be uncomfortable for some time, and it was. I set my mindset to have an empathetic response to myself and the babies while navigating those moments. In the beginning, it was so much work for the twins to nurse, they were just so tired and little. But we persevered. It was hard for everyone, and that doesn’t mean it was bad, just hard.
Create Order Before the Babies Arrive
For me to be mentally, physically, and emotionally present with the boys it was important for me to have order in our home as much as possible so that I could be more peaceful. I knew that my peacefulness would help the babies to be more peaceful and I think that was true.
If possible, take time before the babies arrive to wash the baby clothes, buy the diapers and wipes, and get the things you need in order to rest whenever possible.
Accept Reality and Be Realistic
I tried to be realistic about what I would be able to do for the first few weeks after the twins were born. I thought through and had conversations with my husband about this huge transition from zero to two children! Simple things like knowing that one newborn baby eats 8-12 times a day. That meant that two babies would eat 16 to 24 times a day! Wow, I know! But knowing this and accepting my new reality helped me so much.
I expected to sit and nurse babies all day long, and that is what happened in the beginning. This is why having the support is so necessary, so you can focus on the main job of being a mother which is to feed and care for your babies. Things such as making food, cleaning, and getting groceries can be done by someone else, however, you need to make those requests known.
Another mental block I had to get through was saying things like, “If I just had one baby then this would be easier.” which, objectively is true. However, thinking about that didn’t change anything about my current reality, all it did was make what I was living more challenging. As a New Year’s resolution, I gave up saying phrases like that, because it didn’t help me be present to my current reality which was two babies.
The Montessori Prepared Environment for Twins
The areas in a Montessori home will stay the same as they would for one baby, just needs to be able to accommodate the twin boys.
Initially, the twins slept in a twin bassinet in our bedroom. When they outgrew that, they slept on a Montessori floor bed in our bedroom. We then transitioned them to the Montessori floor bed in their bedroom. The sleeping area is very simple. For more details about how to use a Montessori floor bed with twins or a singleton, check out this blog post.
I set up a movement area before the babies were born. This was prepared with a mirror, a blanket, and their mobiles. This was a perfect area to have prepared so that when I couldn’t tend to both babies at once, I had a beautiful space to lay the other baby down.
I had a few areas throughout our home designated for feedings. In my bedroom, I had a big comfy chair that I would sit in to nurse the babies. There was also a rocking chair in the nursery, which was used more later on. During the day time, I would typically nurse down in the living room on the couch or in one of the chairs. Again, ideally, there would be one designated area for feeding to create more of a frame of reference for the baby. In my case, it was a lot of work to transport two babies around the house multiple times. So I found myself being more flexible about where I nursed them.
We set up a Montessori wardrobe in the nursery. This is where we keep all of the boy’s clothes. There are additional pieces of clothing in their larger closet, but mostly just the next size-up items. I set up 3 diaper-changing areas in our home in the beginning. By about 3 months we were down to just 2 areas, one upstairs and one downstairs.
We put a changing pad on top of our dresser in our bedroom. In the top drawer of the dresser, we keep diapers and wipes. This was great for the early months when we were changing diapers a lot throughout the night.
We have an upstairs loft area, which was another area where I spent time with the boys. I had that prepared with a basket of diapers and wipes as well as a little portable changing pad. The same setup was downstairs in our living room. Again, ideally, you would have one area in your home for changing diapers. I decided that I didn’t want to have to go to a different level with two babies to change a diaper. Thus, multiple diaper-changing areas worked best.