Two times the trouble or two times the fun? If you’re a nanny for twins or have had experience babysitting twins or multiple children, than you already know how extra rewarding (and sometimes extra challenging) it can be. No matter what it looks like, no two kids are the same and you shouldn’t treat them like they are. Whether you’re a seasoned nanny of twins or about to embark on your first job babysitting twins, we’ve got 10 tips to make your experience an enjoyable one — for all three of you!
1. The most common question caregivers have on this topic is what to charge for babysitting twins. While babysitting rates for twins vary greatly depending on a number of factors like geographic region, experience, time of day, activities, etc., a good average rate for babysitting twins is anywhere between $12 and $25/hr. Any questions you have should be discussed with the parents before your first babysitting job.
2. Try to meet the kids before your first gig. It always helps when a child you’re babysitting is already familiar with you and the same goes for babysitting twins. See if you can arrange to come a little early to the babysitting job, or even stop by on a different day just to say hi and socialize with the twins while the parents are there. This shows the twins that you’ve been OK’d by their parents and establishes a foundation of trust and familiarity.
3. Don’t be afraid to give them nametags if they’re identical twins, especially during your first couple babysitting jobs. You’ll be able to learn which twin is which by associating their different personality traits with the right child, plus you won’t run the risk of disciplining Michael for running around naked when it was really John.
4. Start off with playing a game or engaging in a craft that you can all be involved in. This is especially helpful to break the ice if it’s your first time babysitting a pair of twins and it will give you a good idea how they interact with each other. Some good babysitting games to do with twins are things that involve taking turns like board games, and video games. You can start with a game of pretend, asking each child to show you their favorite toy, etc.
5. If babysitting one child presents certain safety issues, babysitting twins presents double. To babysit twins you need to be extra-alert and full of energy — that means staying off your cell phone! Depending on the age of the twins you’re babysitting they may or may not always be in the same room as each other. If you’re babysitting toddler twins and one wants to play in the living room while another watches TV, let them take turns pursuing their individual activities but keep an eye on both.
6. Siblings can sometimes fight and it’s no different with twins. When babysitting twins who are acting up, separate them. Keep them separated until they calm down, let one watch an episode of TV while the other plays with toys, but always make sure they aren’t antagonizing or intimidating each other while your back is turned.
7. Never play favorites and never completely ignore one of the twins if they’re acting out. They may actually need immediate attention or feel angry, upset or jealous about something. Treat them like you’re there to hang out with them.
8. While it may be near impossible to always keep the twins directly in front of you while you’re babysitting, a good rule of thumb is to position yourself strategically so you keep both of them in your peripheral vision. If you’re doing something like changing the diaper of one twin, engage the other twin’s attention by asking them to help and hand you the ointment or a fresh diaper.
9. Always exercise kindness and fairness; no matter how many children you’re babysitting. When babysitting twins and multiples, it’s especially important that you don’t show favoritism. Don’t give one twin a toy or sippy cup of juice if you don’t have one for the other.
10. Finally, use naptime wisely! When it comes to caring for twins, a nanny’s work is never done. When they’re taking a nap make use of your downtime by getting snacks together or setting up the playroom with your next game. For babysitters of twins, downtime may consist of when both twins are watching the same program on TV, or when both are enjoying a snack together.