“Life would be different with an only child.”

I remember having this conversation with my husband back in 2005. Our son was 1 1/2, and we were thinking about getting pregnant again. We actually talked through the pros and cons of giving our son a sibling. If we didn’t, we could travel, we could send him to private school if we so desired, etc. On the other hand, we’d both grown up with siblings and wanted our son to have the joys (and occasional struggles) of those relationships. We decided to go for it.

Boom. Identical twins.

It wasn’t that we’d never have three children, but having it happen so suddenly changed things. I was now a stay-at-home-mom for good, and we made a huge move across the country to a better area with good public schools but with a huge drop in my husband’s income. I was in a new place, with three kids under 3, and it was tough, both emotionally and financially.

It took a few years, but the initial shock of multiples and the stress of how we’d afford it has abated. Through the haze of twinfants and their toddler brother, we started following these rules to keep us on track financially:

  • Have less. I figured out the tipping point for laundry–how much did each person really need vs. how often I could get it done. When you choose to have less clothing, toys, etc., you need less storage, less organizing, and less cleaning. Now that the kids are older, I still stick to some quantity rules and my house is not overrun with clutter or toys. It’s also freed up money to spend on experiences with our kids.
  • Plan ahead. Just as we learned to pack enough diapers and extra clothes, we learned to plan ahead for snacks and meals when running errands and taking day trips. We’ve planned ahead for emergencies–we have a support system to tap if we need to rush a child to the ER and know who can fit two carseats in their car if needed. It extends to our budget; we’re ready for two bikes, two booster seats, and two twin beds.
  • Use what you have. Not being able to go out as much in that first year taught me how NOT essential some of our regular purchases were. I learned to use what was on hand and got creative with kids’ clothes, cooking, and toys. As the kids have gotten older, I do even more from scratch and now they like to help–whether it’s in the kitchen or repainting furniture to make it look new.

If you’re pregnant with multiples or in those early hazy days, take it easy on yourself. You’ll find your routines and systems with trial and error…and time.

What are some rules you live by now that you have multiples?