Getting Organized With Multiples

Keeping Help at Hand

"Everyone wants to help with the babies," cautions Malmstrom, "but there will be times when it's more helpful to keep the food coming or do the laundry. Look for someone who's willing to take on whatever is needed." First, take inventory of your options. You might enlist:

  • Relatives
  • Friends and neighbors
  • Volunteers from a church group or other organization
  • Paid childcare and housekeeping professionals
  • Teenage babysitters (especially usefully for their boundless energy, says Malmstrom)

Next, break down a typical week into tasks that you know will need to get done:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Housecleaning
  • Laundry
  • Cooking
  • Paying bills and other household business
  • Attending to older siblings, if there are any
  • Feeding the babies
  • Diapering the babies
  • Bathing the babies
  • Playing with the babies
  • Shopping for the babies (formula, food, clothing, diapers)
  • Washing/preparing bottles

If you're especially lucky, a friend may volunteer to recruit and organize a corps of helpers for you. Malmstrom has attended baby showers where guests signed up to help with the babies in lieu of gifts, which she suggests as a great idea. If you're not that lucky, match the helpers you've identified with whatever tasks you feel can be done by someone other than Mom or Dad ... and start "hiring." Be specific about the tasks you are hoping to assign, and the period of time you'll need coverage — say, four weeks with the option to renew after that.

One last bit of advice: Research shows that Mom's stress level is directly related to how much perceived help she's getting from Dad. That's why communication is so important. "Instead of just screaming 'HELP!' at your bewildered husband," says Malmstrom, "tell him exactly what you need him to do, and explain that this is not a permanently assigned task." This way, Dad can be a true help and Mom can feel supported by him.