So you had two. You were doubly blessed with double trouble and began a life where everything started coming into your life in twos. When your twins are young, it is so easy to not imagine a minute where they aren’t lovingly together. Then, they start getting older and it becomes extremely obvious that they resent sharing everything with their twin – and this includes birthdays. Certainly, one day they will realize just how lucky they are to have a built in best friend, a built in confidant – but for now….it drives them crazy. And why not? Most children on this planet have one special day set aside for just them. They may not be the only person they know with the same date of birth, but chances none of those other people are in their immediate family or living in their own house. Birthdays for twins are tricky and many parents – overcome with seeing double are often tragically treating the twins as a unit, rather than separately
At some point, you have to get over the loveliness of having twins. Your children get tired of always being mistaken for the other (whether they look alike or not) and as they get older, definitely begin developing traits all their own. This should be encouraged by parents and celebrated especially well on birthdays. The other big misconception is that twins need to have the same gifts. While you want to keep things equal, you do not have to buy two of everything. This will only result in your house being overloaded with toys and junk. You probably do this because you do not want your 5 year olds fighting over one item – however, you will find that as they learn to share they will. If you must get two of one item – at least make sure there is a difference in color. Once the newness of any new thing in your home wears off, you will find that neither toy gets played with. The only time this rule is not in play is when your twins are teens. If you are going to get one I-Pod touch, you better get two!
As you shop, try to remain equal in both the amount of gifts and money spent. With younger twins, they will just want to make sure that both kids get the same amount of presents. Then as your child gets older, they begin to realize that a guitar costs a bit more than a remote control car. And while selfish, ungrateful, and rude – they will bring this to your attention, ruining the moment. It isn’t because you have done a poor job in raising them, but rather because they have spent a lifetime trying to outwit, outdo, and outplay each other! There is a lot of pressure on twins that exists behind the scenes and often, it comes to a head on days like birthdays.
Your birthday party for twins also needs to take into account that each of your children may have different friends. It is easier if they like the same people – but that might not be the case. And that’s okay. Make sure that each child has friends that they choose at their birthday celebration. If your older twins have some conflicting friends – it can be difficult, but chances are things will still go well in your presence. Let each child pick certain things for the party. If one child picked the cups, allow the other to pick the plates. Who cares if it isn’t matching, as long as each child feels that they have ample ownership of the day – there will be less resentment.
As for the cake! Get two! Wasteful? Perhaps. But children deserve a cake on their birthday. This birthday cake should have their name on it. Okay, for toddler twins – one cake or cupcakes might be fine. Yet for older ones, allow each of them to have a cake to call their own, so they can say they picked it out. Don’t trade off years, because at some point the cake won’t really matter. While it does, let each have a personal cake. They have to share so much through the years that the least parents can do is give them their own cake. Not only will every guest at the party be able to eat two pieces of cake if they wish, but there will also be plenty of leftovers. In certain instances, it is not fair to try and force twins into a mutual decision. Birthdays are one of those times, and it will ALWAYS leave one child compromising.
Beyond the age of 5, birthdays for twins should not include matching t-shirts that have some dorky saying of twindom on them either. You shouldn’t buy them matching outfits and you certainly shouldn’t try to use their birthday to show them just how lucky they are to have a twin sibling. Instead, allow each to feel special. Even C-section twins were born at different times, and one idea is to celebrate based on these times. If they were born an hour apart, sing happy birthday to one at the time they were born and to the other when they were born. If they were born at night, just use the daytime hour matching time to sing “Happy Birthday!”
For twins, life is really different. There isn’t one thing that a singleton child can relate to – even if they have siblings. Sharing your birthday with someone else, sort of takes away the uniqueness and ‘special’ out of the day. It is only normal that twins feel the other is always stealing their thunder. This is why it is exponentially important that parents learn to see their twins as individuals – completely different from one another. Especially on their birthday. If you can master the birthday celebration for twins and make each feel like the most important person that day, you will avoid lots of resentment. Eventually, they will learn to love their twinship again. For now however, try to have compassion for how difficult it must be to share everything in life, even your birthday.