If you are reading this, it seems congratulations are in order! You've made it past the diaper stage. Whether you are going back to work, or just want the kids to get started interacting with others, you may want to spread the twins’ wings a bit. Now it’s time for the twins to venture out and begin to work on their social skills-and possibly get a jump start on their education. What type of social environment is best for your twins? This would depend on several factors.
The most important question to consider is: Are both twins ready to spend even a small portion of their day being cared for by someone other than a parent? This is especially relevant for twins of stay-at-home moms. If one sibling is ready for the change and the other is not, it could make for an unpleasant experience for both children. On one hand, you have the ready twin, who should feel an innate need to help their twin along, and spend time looking out for their sibling to make sure they are ok. Then there is the twin who wasn’t prepared-they may be resentful, panicky and hard to handle without Mommy present. Either situation would make for a relatively hard time getting to know other children.
If you want to prepare for this before it becomes an issue, there are several programs available. Local churches, libraries, and even a YMCA may offer small, short classes designed to introduce small children to a classroom environment. Many of them are for children as small as 2-3 years old, and some of those can (or must) be attended by a parent. Very often, local libraries are the best bet-there are small “sit on the floor” type sessions with stories read by a library employee, craft classes, and other activities to engage children and foster a desire to use the library for everything it offers. These interactive meetings can teach the children when to be quiet, when to stand up with the group and dance or shake (when the story requests it), engage in crafts, or even seek out a partner or a third group member. When you feel comfortable that both children can handle it, you can then seek out classes that may allow dropping off for a short period of time, or perhaps allow you to linger in the background unseen by the children to observe. If you are already at a point where you have no concerns about their behavior in a classroom setting, perhaps an educational preschool or a learning day care center would be a wise option.
Religious day care centers are a popular option for those who want to feel like they have something more in common with their day care providers besides caring for their children. It also ensures that the children will be exposed to a curriculum that you are comfortable with. In a perfect situation, these schools can be affiliated with the church or synagogue that the family regularly attends, so the parents can be comfortable knowing who will be responsible for their children. If this is not the case, parents can make visits to schools in the area, meet the caregivers, and find out the details of both the day care schedule and the curriculum.
If a home care is something you prefer, then you might seek out a caregiver who stays home with their own child(ren). Keep in mind that at-home care is usually less educational, as there are no requirements in place, and while a license is required, many take on the responsibility without one-just to make some extra money. On the upside, there is more direct interaction (as there are less children), as well as hot meals and possibly naps. It would be prudent to interview thoroughly, research the area the house is in, and check credentials and/or references. You want to know that this person has the same interest in raising your children as you do. A few things to think about in an interview would be television time/programming, naps, meals, diaper changing, emergency time if late, and personal interaction time with the caregiver (is she working another job full time from home?), etc.
Another factor that weighs heavily on a multiple parent mind has to be cost. While some of the items above may be out of price range, plenty of options will offer a multiple discount. If you try, you may persuade someone who has never even thought about it before to do so-especially if they want to stay relevant with the ever growing multiple market. Keep in mind that usually, the more personal the care, the higher the price per child. Only you can decide what is right for your family and your budget. Starting with a reference from a close friend is always a good way to start your search!