Creating Schedules and Rituals
One way to coax your kids' needs into a synchronized schedule: Partially ignore the old saying "never wake a sleeping baby" and when the first baby wakes up on her own to eat, rouse the other(s) so everyone feeds together. Couple this with reliable play-, bath-, nap-, and nighttime rituals, and before long, consistency should reign.
That is, until a growth spurt or other healthy development shifts your babies' needs, Boyle points out. Then the process may have to begin again. (Big sigh.)
Managing the Motherload
If you're taking care of one baby, but especially if you're taking care of two, three or more, you're going to be sleep-deprived. There's no way around it. What's important is not to let tiredness give way to extreme exhaustion and isolation. Lining up reliable help — whether it's volunteer, paid or a combination — is your insurance policy.
"Couples who arrange for help ahead of time do better with their newborns than those who take a 'wait and see' approach, because they have a built-in buffer against sleep deprivation," says Malmstrom. If you think having help is a sign of inadequacy, remind yourself that there are three shifts of nurses every 24 hours in the hospital's neonatal ward to do what parents do every day at home.
Be proactive: Think like a head nurse. Outline your babies' daily schedule (or give it your best guess — the guidelines above can help!), then staff in advance for full coverage.