By Mike Crider, author of the blog The Father of Twins

When you find out you’re having twins, the rules change.  Heck, it’s safe to say the game changes.  If you want a glimpse of what it’s like to find out for the very first time, check out a post I wrote back before Christmas called 50th Post: The Ultrasound Story“.  It really takes your breath away and makes you re-examine everything you thought was true about the life of a future parent.

So, many crazy things happen to you when you have twins.  It’s truly remarkable to think that people go out of their way to give you special treatment, and you’ll be baffled by the fascination (and the ignorance) that people have when staring at two (or more) children that share the same birthday.  We’ve discussed some of these topics in our Twitter chat #TwinsChat (see note at end of this post), and it’s very funny to hear how other twin parents cope with the situations that arise.

Sure it looks tidy now……but give them some time to explore and they will get every toy out.

These are guidelines, but my experience motivates me to put these down because they are important pieces of advice.  Some are funny, some not so much, but many will make life just a little easier for parents expecting twins.  I don’t hold these truths to be self-evident (if you don’t know your history, Thomas Jefferson started the Declaration of Independence that way…not like you care) but I do feel as though they will be helpful.  To be fair, this list mostly pertains to twins under the age of one.  Mine are over two-and-a-half now, so don’t ask me for advice on toddlers yet.

Without further ado…

1. You will keep the kids on the same schedule as much as possible.

2. You will not let the schedule dictate your life…your twins are still individuals.

3. You will NOT wake a sleeping baby unless you are feeding at night…do this very quietly.

4. As much as possible, you will not refer to your children as “the twins”.

5. When in doubt, feed the babies (singleton parents, I see you nodding).

6. You will accept help from anyone you trust.  You can pretend to do it all by yourself, but when you have hit the bottom, you will ask, and accept.

7. You will accept diapers/gifts from anyone and everyone.  They will buy you more stuff because you’re having two babies, you will store it away and find a way to use it or apply it to something you need.

8. You will not be picky when choosing colors of strollers and high-chairs.  Trust me, that stuff goes out the window when the bubbles appear on the screen.

9. You will not feel guilt when you have to miss work; your kids will be sick often the first couple of years and few understand the plight of a twin parent.

10. You will have Goldfish or Cheerios with you at ALL times.

11. You will always have at least four diapers in the bag at ALL times.

12. When alone with your twins, any place makes a good changing table.

13. You will have a supply of Tylenol at home and in the bag at ALL times.

14. You will not care about the brand of diapers when you reach for one in a time of need.

15. You will accept checks from formula companies to receive discounts on formula, and you will wait at the register until the cashier rings it up properly.

16. You can use boppy pillows for feeding, at times.  If you’re alone, and they get hungry, you’ll understand everything I’m saying.

17. You will sing James Taylor songs to rock them to sleep (what were you going to sing, Ke$ha?).

18. You will face tantrums during toddlerhood, and you will want a strategy for those difficult days.  Especially on weekends, a 45-minute drive does wonders.

19. You will not, under any circumstances, underestimate the value of Goldfish.

20. You will not feel shame in hauling a red wagon through a shopping mall, or a food truck rodeo, or a farm.

21. You will buy a thermometer that takes temperature by reading it through the temple.  Unless, of course, you insist on doing it other ways…good luck with that.

22. You will dress your twins alike regardless of how different they may look, that is, until they start school.  Or if they are boy/girl (obviously).

23. If you have boy/girl twins and someone at Walmart (because that’s always where it happens) asks you if they are identical, you will remember they know nothing about twins and tell them they are different in one very important way.

24. You will keep their birth “tags” on for at least a week after birth because, well, who wants to mix up babies?

25. You will love bouncy seats.  That is all.

26. You will realize that Babies ‘R Us has cool stuff, and they know they do, and that’s why it costs so much.  You will learn that Target carries most products much cheaper and with better shopping carts.

27. When at a restaurant, you will feed the children first.  When they are toddlers, you will not be at a restaurant.

28. You will have good luck at consignment stores, both when buying and selling clothes.

29. You will connect with other parents of multiples, because they are the only ones who really know what it’s like.

30. You will need a car that can handle two car seats at once.  Sure, your Mustang is really nice, but will it work?

31. You will hate bath time, then you will love it.  Then you will hate it again, but the twins will love it.

32. You will not eat the puffs that are designed for babies.  They are gross, but your twins will like them a lot.

33. You will have weird dreams; it comes with the lack of sleep and heightened awareness.

34. You will own a calming noise machine, this will last much longer than you anticipate.

35. You will not forget your significant other.  There’s a reason you “ended up” with twins.

36. You will hear others tell you to “sleep when the babies sleep”.  You will then laugh at them, because it’s not that easy.

37. You will celebrate joyously when they turn one year old, and the doctor tells you to switch to milk from formula.

38. You will buy lots of milk (see #37).

39. You will read to them, even when they appear not to be listening; they will surprise you one day.

40. You will laugh at teething toys until they start teething.

They won’t be this size for very long. Trust me, I’ve been there.

41. You will find yourself angry, frustrated, tired, irritated, annoyed, frazzled, clueless, and sometimes feeling hopeless.  This will pass, and your babies will get older.  They will talk, they will crawl, they will walk, and they will interact with each other in ways that “normal” siblings cannot.  They will share a bond that they will take with them throughout the rest of their lives.  And you, you will be a hero.  You were, and are, the parent of twins.

Can you relate and add to Mike’s list? Please do so in the comments below. Also – for all of you who are parents of multiples – Mike hosts a Twitter chat on Tuesday nights called #TwinsChat. It’s at 9 EST and is geared towards parents of multiples, but anyone can participate. Join in if you’re able!