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6-month old twins "must-haves"

The first six months we have relied on a variety of baby products and techniques to make our life easier. Here they are:

1. Posting the schedule. If you ever plan on leaving the house sans children, your spouse or sitter will need to know the schedule. Make it easy. There will be reasons to leave the house: hair cut, picking up a medication, your own doctor appointments, running to the store, a much needed spa day, taking your other children somewhere. This saves you from writing it down every time you have to leave the house and it may prevent you from stalker calling your husband every five minutes, "Did you wake up the babies? Did you feed them? Did you give O his medication?"

2. Roll with the punches. Your clothes need to be washable. You need to be able to walk in your shoes. You need to be able to get ready in twenty minutes. You need to dress your new body type (even if it is a work in progress). You will be doing a lot of laundry, changing a lot of diapers, bouncing a lot of babies, taking out a lot of trash, spot cleaning a lot of stains, snapping a lot of car seat buckles. Embrace it. No matter how many times you suggest, subtly or otherwise, your friends will still say, "Let's meet at my house" or "Can you pick him up in twenty minutes?" or drag you to a park across town that doesn't have a bench to sit on. Roll with it. No one will understand how much work it is, that day or any day, to get out of the house, and truly, do you want them to? The flip side is that you never get out of your house and your friends stop inviting you places. Snap and unsnap the carseats while the diaper bag falls in your way--again-- and tell yourself that your khaki capris and flats don't scream MOM, they suggest Audrey Hepburn... or a French woman without children...

3. Buy a stroller that works for YOU. Strollers are expensive. Double strollers can be doubley expensive. Invest in one that works for your life. Before you make any other large purchase, you usually make a list of what you want it to do. Seriously sit down and make a list. Think of how long you want the stroller; do you want to buy one stroller that works from infancy to toddler years? Check the weight limits and what accessories are offered with that stroller: glider boards (check the weight limit, some work only to 30 lbs others to 45 lbs), infant carrier adaptors, drink holders, bunting, coolers, etc. Do you want to jog with it? Do you plan on walking on all terrain (hard to avoid when you have an older child and you go to the park)? Do you want it to fold easy (give up on the one hand notion advertised for single strollers)? How heavy is it? Can you push it and turn it with one hand? What is your max budget and can you register for it? Consider telling your family that this is what you want for your double blessings. More than likely, your family will still buy you the clothes, blankets, and trinkets you registered for. Who can resist spoiling twins?

4. Stockpile on diapers. Peruse Amazon and buy every box of cheap diapers you see. Consider buying the "one used from $19.99" if it is from Amazon warehouse. My experience has shown me that these diapers are unopened and cheap. My guess is that someone else stockpiled on diapers and realized they had too many size ones and returned a box. We used Pampers and the Gifts to Grow points were still on the packaging; the boxes still had the original tape. The boxes just were a little scuffed. Who cares about packaging when you get Pampers $0.11 a diaper without coupons? If you are buying from Amazon or Amazon warehouse, you will have truly hassle-free returns. I have returned many boxes to them. If you have doubts, call customer service before you mail it back and they will confirm what return option you are eligible for (refund, exchange, etc).

5. REGISTER FOR AMAZON.COM/MOM. You will save so much money. You get a free Prime membership up to a year if you continue to make $25 purchases in Baby and discounts on almost everything. If you really want to work the system, do the "Subscribe and Save" option. You may need to actually click on the item to see your total discount, like for diapers, select how often you want them shipped, and have it mailed to you. Often times, I select 6 months, have it ship, and then cancel it once it arrives. That way it doesn't keep shipping and I got the subscribe and save price. It is so convenient to have diapers, wipes, diaper genie refills, trash bags, pacifiers... just about everything delivered to my door. I buy what I want, with a discount, and can shop at my convenience. For more information on Amazon Mom, go to Amazon.com, enter in "Mom," and click on "Did you mean Amazon Mom?" at the top of the page, or go to: http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=mom_sd_what_is_Mom?ie=UTF8&node=2965621011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=browse&pf_rd_r=061DGGWPPCQDTRHXXWHS&pf_rd_t=9401&pf_rd_p=1312978822&pf_rd_i=amazon-mom-sales-deals

6. Hire help. This can be whatever help you need. Your husband to watch the kids so you can shower. A 11-year old Mommies Helper that doesn't realize she should demand more money from you. A house cleaner to come every week, two weeks, or month to get the grime off your counters. Or, my favorite, a grocery store to do the shopping for you. Shopping online has proved to be a huge money saver for us. Imagine walking down the grocery aisle dragging a shopping cart with a whining three year old in the basket while you push a double stroller one-handed while your twins cry in their seats. Now try sticking to your list, using coupons, price comparing, and reading nutritional facts while you pull your caravan out of the aisle so those smug other shoppers carrying only a basket (what can you buy with just a basket?? Kool Aid???) might be able to squeeze by you. I have two grocery stores that I online shop with, Lowe's http://www.lowesfoods.com/ and Harris Teeter http://www.harristeeter.com/. Both do not accept tips and it only costs $5 an order plus they will load it in to my van. I pull up, push a button, give them my card, and they load the van for me. Easy. Plus I can organize my coupons before I arrive and select items that I want to buy while keeping an eye on my total. All during naptime or after the kids go to bed. No sitter required and no wasting those precious trips out of the house without children on something like grocery shopping. Concerned about ingredients? Use sites like http://www.foodfacts.com/index.cfm to see not only the complete nutritional facts and ingredients list for an item, but also get a health score. If your item is not listed on the website, try googling it. I've had a lot of success finding what is in my products while online shopping. If you are having problems or feel frustrated with an area of your day, think of how you can make it better and see if you can find help: drop-in childcare, a responsible baby-sitter, a good friend, a husband. Be creative.

7. Discounts. Look for them where you can get them. Even if you aren't buying formula for twins like we are, twins are double the expense. Play classes discount siblings; find when membership fees are discounted as well (usually during the summer). Call your favorite products are ask them if they offer a multiple program (seriously). Places like One Step Ahead give a multiple discount when you place your order over the phone http://www.onestepahead.com/. Toys'R'Us gives a multiple discount on items over $99. If you buy in store, you can buy two, say, car seats of different design if they are over $99. Online, you must buy two of the same item. If you are buying formula, register with all the formula companies. They will send you free samples and great coupons if you have multiples. That way you could possibly try a less expensive formula (in case you run out of coupons) or swap with a mom who uses that brand. A friend of mine uses one brand of formula and I use another, so we swap samples and coupons. Another friend of mine breastfeeds and gives me all the formula coupons she receives. At my pediatrician, I ask if they have formula samples from their reps that they can give us. More than once this has lead to a nurse carrying out cases of formula to my car. I haven't had the best luck with multiple discounts at franchises or chain stores, but even local toy boutiques or clothes stores will occasionally give a multiple discount. You don't know if you don't ask. And for you military wives out there with multiples or singletons, show that military ID! A lot of places give a military discount (Sally's http://www.sallybeauty.com/, Lowe's http://www.lowes.com/, PacSun http://shop.pacsun.com/home.jsp?XCID=A:31004); save money where you can. Consider registering for Shutterfly. It is so easy to get discounts with Shutterfly from buying pictures with Santa at Christmas (often comes with Shutterfly gift cards) to a free website with them that will give you exclusive offers and free prints (even if you don't maintain it). You can order pictures online, send links of your photo albums to relatives (and let them buy their own prints and it saves you time-- no more emailing this week's photos), and keep everyone updated with a family website-- for free! Another bonus: send prints to a local one hour photo and get them that day without dealing with those machines at the store. http://www.shutterfly.com/ Remember: you don't know if you don't ask.

8. Products. I'm all about saving time and saving money where I can. Some things are 100% convenience, others are all about savings:

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