I'm a very different mom to twins than I think I would have been to a singleton. In discussions with a lot of mommy peers with little ones the same age as mine, I find myself saying "Well you can't really do that with twins" or "I probably would have done it that way too if I had one instead of two". Ok, I don't want to be the mompetitor bitch queen and it's hard to say anything like that without it sounding bitchy, so I think it more than I say it, but I think it a lot.
So here are some things that I might have done differently if I only had one. Some would be improvements, some might be detriments, so there's no judgement in this. It's just me kind of taking stock of who I am, what leads me to various parenting decisions, and how they might have been different.
Ohhhhhh, bedtime would be soooooo different if I just had one! We would have a routine that included a bath, brushing the teeth, stories, snuggles. A baby would be rocked until properly sleepy. But no. I can't do all that stuff with two when I'm by myself. Maybe if I had stronger arms and could hold both of them without fear of dropping one, maybe then I could do that stuff. But I'm not stronger, my big fat butt takes up too much room in the rocker to snuggle a baby on either side of me. Instead, bedtime is basically done in the living room. They get bottles, their teeth brushed, and then into the cribs, one song and away I go.
Sleep training may or may not have happened. I didn't sleep train because I'm oh so willing to do the hard thing for future rewards, just the opposite. We did sleep training because it was a lot easier than not doing it. So that's a mixed blessing. If I just had one, every night it probably would have been easier to simply rock with the baby until they settled and went to sleep. At over a year old, I might still be doing that. But with two, rocking both was difficult and often more stressful than not doing it at all. It was almost inevitable that if I went in to soothe whoever was pissed off, the other one would be disturbed and I'd have two crying babies instead of just one. We had to bite the bullet and just let them figure themselves out because I physically couldn't do anything else consistently.
Heck, if I had just one, we might have co-slept. We probably could have figured out how to keep one in bed with us safely, but with two, nope.
If they were singletons, the girls would spend a lot less time in their cribs. Each would simply be put down when they got tired and picked right up when they woke up. Instead, when one gets tired, they both go down. As a result, one usually takes longer to get to sleep and then the first one wakes up and has to wait for the other one to wake up before they can get up. That's often an extra 30 or more minutes on either side of the nap that they are in the crib.
Naps would happen exactly according to the babies needs and not according to what works best for the household. For the most part I'm able to do naps according to needs, but sometimes naps happen because somebody in the house needs them to happen.
A singleton baby would get a bath a lot more often. It's kind of a major production when you have to do their bathing for them. I'm sure once they are old enough to both get in the tub and splash and play with just me watching instead of participating, it will happen far more often.
I'm a crafty person, I really am. I have my own pottery studio for cryin out loud. If I had just one, toys would consist of a lot of the easier ideas found on Pinterest. I would likely be playing around with turning some of their baby clothes into dolls by stuffing them then sewing them shut. But even spending 2 minutes to put something together is a pain in the butt. I have successfully collected a bunch of random plastic things and stuffed them into empty tissue boxes for the girls to dig out, but that's about it. As a result of my lack of time, I just buy whatever looks interesting.
I totally would have been a baby wearer with just one. When I tried to wear a baby, I had trouble properly doing anything for fear of bumping the kid or just not being able to reach out well enough to do anything comfortably. For things like laundry and maybe going for a walk or grocery shopping, no problem. The world isn't going to end if I drop a few shirts because a baby wiggled funny. This clumsiness is a problem if the thing you want to do while wearing one baby is something with a second baby. When I was wearing one, I felt like I couldn't tend to the other one. Then there was the whole guilt thing of wearing and bonding with one while the other was stuck in a swing or something, and I didn't want to be unfair, so the baby wearing thing just didn't work out because I had two instead of one.
I'm not sure if this would have gone much differently. If I had just one, it likely would have been double the weight of Teeny Tiny and born at full term. I would have had the luxury of the baby being frustrated while we got through the learning curve because it wouldn't have been so desperate to just get calories in. I also would have been able to focus on figuring the whole thing out because there wouldn't have been a second starving child screaming right along with the one I was trying to put to breast.
On the other hand, I know that I would have pumped or formula fed at least somewhat. I had no desire to be the only person capable of feeding my child. It's entirely possible that I wouldn't have pumped so furiously and as a result, I might not have had the oversupply that I did. With a healthy, full weight, full term singleton, I might have been ok supplementing with formula earlier since I might not have been so terrified of future health issues like I was with my premature, underweight twins. Having twins might actually have been the reason they primarily had breastmilk for the first year.
If I just had one, I think I'd be more present during play time. I'm fairly present, but a lot of times my heart isn't in it, or I really need to run off and do something else during the three seconds that both are happily entertained. It would be really nice to have the energy to do more than put out fires but it seems that at least one child is on fire at all times so by the time everyone is content, I really need to step away and regroup.
I'm pretty much forcing the girls to play independently. In the long run, this is a good skill to learn and I'll be glad for it later, but I wish it was something I were choosing to do rather than feeling like I have to just to get through the day.
I would be so much more go with the flow if I just had one. Go with the flow isn't really my personality, but I'd be able to do it a lot more than I can now. I don't get to nap when the girls do because I need to prepare their next meal. By the time I get both of them up, diapers changed, and ready to eat, they've already each had to wait about 10 minutes, so food really needs to be ready to go before they wake up. That's pretty much how it is with just about everything - it needs to be prepared before it's needed because by the time it's needed, it's really needed. Twins are going simply going to wait, that's just how it is, but I can't ask them to wait not only for me to prep their sister, but for me to accomplish whatever it is that needs to be accomplished too.
There are good things and bad things about all of this. In the bigger picture, I think a lot of this is good. I'm teaching the girls life lessons that are hard to teach. Things like delayed gratification, sleeping without a crutch, independent play, hopefully how to not be spoiled brats (I spoil where I can of course), stuff like that. I'm far more organized than I otherwise would be just because I have to be. Those are great things.
I think a lot of parents have trouble teaching those things because the alternative is much more pleasant in the short term. If I were a singleton parent, I would have trouble teaching those things. I would be the mom who rocked her baby to sleep every night for far too long. I would be the mom who just held a clingy baby all day to make her happy. I would be the mom who gave in to just about every whine or unhappy squeak.
I am sad that I missed out on a lot of snuggles though. I do wish I could simply tend to one thoroughly without worrying about when the other one was going to burst and overwhelm me. I'm hate that I feel the need to disengage whenever possible simply because it's not possible very often. I'd like to spend more play time with my kids and less fire fighting.