Many new parents having twins, triplets or more wonder and worry if they should hire someone to help care for their twins in the first several weeks or months. Based on my own experience and the results of several surveys conducted by TwinParenthood.com, the resounding answer is YES.
- Yes! If you can easily afford to hire help for the first several weeks, you will not regret doing so
- Yes! If you can’t easily afford to hire help, but can scrape together money to hire help, you will not regret doing so
Still, many twin parents will tell you that hiring someone to help you with your twin infants’ care is not strictly necessary — especially if you have volunteer help.
Volunteer help can come in many forms. It may be family that come to stay with you, or it may be a church or neighborhood community that rallies to your aid. Our previous article, Twin Baby Shower Gifts that Provide Real Help for Mom, gives some great advice about how to incorporate volunteer signups into your twin baby shower.
But, not everyone has a support network to step in. So, hiring help makes sense. Once you have decided to hire help, the next question quickly arises.
Should we hire help to care for our twins during the day or night?
Day: Typically you’ll get more for your dollar during the day if you hire someone for daytime help with your twins because you can hire someone that is willing to do more than strictly baby care (fix lunch, do dishes or wash bottles, for example). And, daytime help is typically less expensive than night help.
Night: Getting at least one 4 hour uninterrupted sleep stretch can make a huge difference in your physical and mental well being. If you don’t have at least 3 caregivers in your rotation, you will have difficulty being able to achieve at least one 4 hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep. If you are not able to schedule this in without paid assistance, then you should hire night help.
What type of help should we hire?
The type of help you will need depends a lot upon your particular situation, your financial reserves, and how much volunteer help you will be receiving. If money is unlimited, you can hire several types of help to cover all the bases: a post-partum doula for right after the babies are born, a night-nanny for the first 3 – 4 months, a day time nanny and a housekeeper. Unfortunately, the reality is that most of us can’t afford all of that.
Regardless of what type of help you decide on, you should interview your candidates to ensure they have experience with newborns. Experience with twins is nice, but not strictly necessary.
Doula: A post-partum doula has special expertise with newborns and mother care. A doula is usually more expensive than other types of care. Doulas are often available for over-night care.
Nanny: A nanny may live in or out, but typically a nanny works only for you – in your home. A nanny is usually considered an employee of the household (and thus, you will usually need to pay vacation and holidays, and consider the tax implications). Nannies responsibilities often include additional tasks such as laundry, dishes, and other light housework. Be sure this is discussed prior to hiring your twins’ nanny.
Night-Nanny: A night nanny is a nanny that works at night. Often they try to rest when the babies are sleeping, but may do some household tasks such as emptying the dishwasher or folding laundry – again, be sure to negotiate this prior to hiring.
Au Pair: An au pair is a foreign national on a work visa for a 1 year term. They live in your home and are paid a small salary, room & board, and travel & insurance expenses. Typically, they are required to take some kind of coursework (which you will need to make accommodations for in their schedule). Keep in mind that an Au Pair is not a 24 hour caregiver although they live in your home.
Daycare Providers: This is usually in someone else’s home or facility and your babies will not be the only ones receiving care. Daycare providers must be licensed.
Baby Sitter: Not always, but often a baby sitter is used on an irregular, as needed basis. Baby sitters also do not usually perform extra tasks such as light housework. The term “baby sitter” is often used as an over-arching word to describe anyone who provides child care.
Mother’s Helper: Typically the least expensive of all options. A mother’s helper can be a high school student that comes over after school to help with housework and baby care. Usually a mother’s helper does not take on full responsibility for caring for the babies – but assists with mother present.
Housekeeper: One option not often considered is to hire a housekeeper who will take care of the house, the dishes, the bottles, the pump, cleaning the bathrooms – all of the things that you will not have the energy to do. It is easy to become resentful of your twins’ caregiver who is spending sweet cuddle time with your babies while you are off doing household chores. Wouldn’t you rather pay someone to do the things you don’t want to do, while you dedicate your time to your twinfants?
All of the options available for the early weeks of care with your twinfants often seem overwhelming. But, don’t be tempted to put it off, to “wait and see” what you’ll need. To be on the safe side, you’ll want to plan, interview, and hire your caregiver before reaching your 35th week. If you are very unsure and expense is an issue, start with hiring a part-time housekeeper or mother’s helper.
Bottom line, you will not regret having the help.
What did you do in the early weeks or months?
Copyright 2010 Kathryn Whiteley — TwinParenthood.com
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