Our first year with twin babies was hard work. It was overwhelming, stressful and sleepless, and by the time we got to the end of the first year, I breathed a sigh of relief that we'd made it through. I thought things were about to get easier. I was wrong.
We all know what toddlers are like: they're full of energy and giggles, mischief and mayhem, and a cuteness to behold.
But twin toddlers? They're from another dimension. When you put two toddlers together, they become souped-up, mega toddlers, and all that adorable energy and mischief-making goes into testing every parenting boundary you have.
I thought that first year was hard, but I was not prepared for the second year of twins.
Of course they're also a delight. Twins are miraculous little things and I'm well aware of how lucky I am.
But just so you know, these delightful miracles could happen to you, too. And if they do, here's a few things to brace yourself for:
1 They do things together
Twins like to copy each other, which can be a bit adorable when it comes to play-time and much less so when it comes to climbing up furniture, emptying draws and hurtling towards any open doors in the house, particularly the ones that lead to outside.
Twin toddlers have this crazy energy, that can only be described as swarm-like. Together they can ransack a room in seconds, figure out how to pick a child-safety lock and totally destroy the Tupperware cupboard.
2 They do things separately
As much as they like to follow each other around, sometimes twins like to explore separately.
You'd think this would make things easier, because the house tends to go quiet when they're doing their own thing. But when they're separate and quiet, they're like any other toddler: up to no good.
Only they're up to no good in different places, meaning you have to pick which disaster to avert first: the one sucking up a tube of hand cream or the one eating sand with a spade?
3 Feeding time
Toddlers are messy eaters and unpredictable with food at the best of times. With twins it's like feeding time at the zoo.
If I'm not getting food thrown at me left, right and centre, and trying to stop them painting themselves with yoghurt, I'm preventing high-chair escapes, as somehow they've discovered how to undo their buckles.
By the time they're both standing up in their high-chairs precariously, waiting for me to rescue them, I know meal time is over. And for my troubles: I get two squishy, yoghurty cuddles.
4 The huge pram
Even with a slimline double pram, I still resemble a wide-load when I push the twins down the street.
Because of this thing, there are shops that I've never been able to enter, supermarket checkouts that I've become wedged in, and carparks that are near impossible for me to navigate.
Now that the twins are toddlers, there's no more casual manoeuvring with one hand while I sip on a flat-white with the other. These days, I'm pushing nearly 25kg up and down the streets and it's an all-hands-on-deck situation.
5 The sleep thing
Yes, they wake each other up. Sometimes at 4.30am. Often, it's just one of them, and I can deftly slip him out of the room before he wakes his brother.
Dealing with one awake toddler at silly o'clock is vaguely manageable. But way more often, it's the two of them, standing up in their cots waiting for me. All cute and awake.
It's hard not to melt a little bit. But not as hard as it is to deal with changing two seriously dirty nappies before sunrise.
6 They're a liability
I took them to a park once. It was the most stressful ten minutes of my life. Trying to keep an eye on two wandering, curious toddlers with zero sense of danger is insanely difficult.
Plus they're fast. In a shopping mall once, I took them out of the pram and turned my back for all of ten seconds to get their drink bottles, only to discover them gone when I looked up again.
You know where they were? IN A LIFT, PEOPLE.
7 The cute factor
Some days, it's everything. Toddlers are cute on their own but when you put two side by side and they both come at you for a cuddle, it's the stuff of dreams. It makes everything worthwhile.
Plus, they get us lots of admiring smiles and comments when we're out, and for a frazzled, exhausted mum, this can be enough to save the day and remind me of just how blessed I really am.