Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Economics of Parenting Twins

I just read a funny and accurate blog on the economics of having twins: Freakonomics

I've been meaning for a while to write a blog on "What parents expecting twins really need".  For instance, two high chairs YES, two Jumperoos NO.  It's on my things to blog about list, but I just haven't gotten around to writing it.

This guy succinctly mentions issues of the costs of having twins.  (Hint: It's not two for the price of one!)  Here are my quick comments on his article.

Feedings.  Superman and I split midnight feedings.  We couldn't just take turns like other bottle feeding parents.  Two babies equals two constantly sleep deprived parents.  And actually, I'd like to point out that I had it worse than him, because as soon as the feeding was over, we changed their diapers and put them back in their crib, then he went back to sleep.  I got to stay up for another 30 minutes of pumping and 15 minutes of clean up from said pumping.

P.S. When you are sleep walking during pumping, and you accidentally spill that milk that you are working so darn hard to bring new meaning to the phrase cry like a baby.  I think Superman thought I'd fatally wounded myself.  And in a way, I felt like I had.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 at 3 weeks old in
second-hand bouncy seats from my cousin 
Infancy Costs. Most people have one baby at a time.  Which means they have one crib that is used for multiple children at different times.  But we had to get two of almost everything, since there were no hand me downs to be passed on.  The worst was the cost of buying things that you knew they'd only use for a few months and then outgrow.  We loved thrift stores and took any hand-me downs people would give us.  I didn't care if their high chairs matched, as long as they were cheap and/or free!

We were so lucky that I had a cousin who had twin boys two years before us.  They passed on a ton of stuff and I couldn't have been happier!  We "paid it forward" by passing on a ton of stuff as well.

P.S. People who won't take hand me downs for gently used items that the baby will outgrow in two seconds are freaking stupid!

P.P.S. I want to smack people who already have a blue high chair for their son and then go get a pink one when they have a girl. Hint: that baby doesn't freaking care what color their high chair is!  Use the dang-on blue high chair and put that extra money into their college account!!  Sheesh!

Diapers.  We chose to do cloth diapers for several reasons.  1. It is better for the environment.  2.  They are healthier for the kids (have you ever seen the toxic crap that spills out of a diaper that explodes when it gets too saturated?!)  3.  They are supposed to make potty training easier, since the kids feel more uncomfortable than disposables that are super absorbent.  And 4. They are cheaper.  Except, again, most people buy their $300 worth of Fuzzy Bunz in a few different sizes and that lasts them through as many kids as they have.  We on the other hand, had to buy twice the amount of diapers.  So in the end, I'm not sure just how much money we really saved.  I'm sure we saved some, but not as much as we would have if we'd used $300 for two different babies at staggered times.

Child care costs.  Babies cost more than toddlers.  Diapered toddlers cost more than potty trained toddlers.  People say "wow, it was great you could afford for Superman to stay home with the boys for three years."  The truth is, two babies in child care would have eaten up almost all of Superman's teacher salary.  He would have basically been working to pay someone else to take care of our kids.  As it is, we pay $1200-1500 a month (depending on whether it is 4 weeks or 5 weeks) to have two potty trained kids in preschool now.  People gasp when they hear that and say "Wow, I pay half that."  Duh, you have half the kids in school as us.

The good news: once they start kindergarten in a year, we will feel rich!  In the end, we end up paying the same.  The difference is we have to do a more condensed version, where other people get to spread theirs out a bit.

Sleep.  Again, thanks to the awesomeness of having a cousin pave the way for us in the world of parenting twins, we knew from day one the importance of getting them on a schedule.  I really don't know why anyone would be against sleep training.  Rested parents are happy parents.  Happy parents equal happy babies.  It's common sense to me.  But I read so many negative opinions about methods like Ferber and Babywise (both of which we used with great success!).  My boys were sleep trained as babies and are STILL amazing sleepers.  I read peoples' Facebook posts about their kids getting up at 5 am, even on weekends, and I thank my stars that my boys would sleep in until 9 am everyday if we'd let them (and on weekends we do!).  My only problem with their sleep is getting them up early enough in the morning.  Sometimes I feel like I have teenagers already!

And not only do they sleep late, but they go to bed great.  We have followed the rules of following schedules and being consistent.  So they know that bedtime is 8 pm.  There is no fighting, crying, or having to do super nanny methods to keep them in their beds.  It's 8 pm, they go to bed.  Boom.  We read them a few books, turn off all but one reading light, and they read quietly in bed until they fall asleep.  99% of the time, this is our night time routine.  I can't imagine doing it those other ways... how exhausting.

Built in playmate.  This one is huge.  I can say that this is by far the #1 reason why I'm glad we had twins.  I can remember even when they were 9 months old, seeing how much easier it was with two for keeping them entertained.  I'd put one in the Jumperoo and one in the exersaucer and set them facing one another while I did dishes and made dinner.  They'd laugh and entertain one another the whole time.  Meanwhile my friends with just one baby would complain about how hard it was to get anything done, because their baby wanted their attention.

I also think this is why we were successful at keeping them away from tv for almost two years.  If we'd had just one baby, I'm sure we would have given in and used the digital babysitter much much sooner than we did.

College.  Honestly, this is like the child care issue.  Sure, it's gonna suck to have two kids going in to school at the same time.  However, once it is done, it will be done.  And unlike with the surprise of having twins, we have 18 years to get ready for that expense.  And honestly, if we end up not having enough to send them...there are always school loans.  Hey, if it was good enough for me...

I take that back.  I freaking despise my school loans.  We'd better have saved enough by then!

In Summary.  All of you people who say "Ah, I always wanted twins."  Bet you didn't think about all of this, did ya?  You just thought about the cute factor of having two itty bitty babies dressed in the same outfit.  The truth is, there are definitely draw backs.

But then again, I only had to be pregnant once.  Only had to go through one delivery.  Only had to go through breastfeeding once.  Bottles once.  Night feedings once.  Diapers once.  Potty training once.

And once the boys outgrow equipment, clothes, toys, etc, there is no need to store them in the basement or attic for the next one.  We have a garage sale, or donate them to a friend or organization.  It's Hasta La Vista Baby!

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