1. Keep a log. Include feeding times. You think you can remember if you fed a child but when your extremely tired it will be hard to remember. Also, include information about each child's well being. If they are coughing or have received medicine, etc. This eliminates confusion when you have more than one caregiver.
2. Only one person medicates the children. This places a lot of responsibility on one person but it will keep you from over-medicating a child. Before leaving the hospital, try to learn their medications and how to operate any special equipment they may require.
3. Limit visitation. If your children are premature, when they come home from the hospital, you may want to limit visitors or even "quarantine" your home. Prepare your family and friends for this so as not to have hurt feelings. Your first responsibility is to your babies and their health. We really didn't allow visitors until our children's first birthday.
4. Rules. Implement rules that you need to have a healthy environment for your children. For example, everyone has to wash their hands before holding a baby. This is a simple rule but, it is so important in stopping the spread of germs!!! Also, remind people if they are sick to stay home.
5. RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) Season. It is a virus that causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract. Children at risk (premies in particular) receive a monthly shot during RSV season. RSV season in our area was from October to March. Our children received shots for two seasons.
6. Chronological age and adjusted age. Chronological age is the age of the baby from the day of birth. Adjusted age is the age of the baby based on due date. So if your baby is 6 months old but was born 2 months early his adjusted age is 4 months. Health care providers may use this age when they evaluate the baby's growth and development. This became a factor for us because our first born had pyloric stenosis (he could not keep his food down). Most infants who develop symptoms of pyloric stenosis are usually between 3 to 5 weeks old. In the emergency room we forgot to mention his adjusted age when they were examining him. They had a hard time diagnosing him because they understood his age to be older. Once we mentioned he was premature, his problem became evident. Pyloric stenosis is 4 times more likely to occur in first born males. The adjusted age catches up with the chronological age at about 3 years old.
7. Early Childhood Intervention. The State of Texas offers a program called early childhood intervention. ECI is a statewide program for families with children, birth to three, with disabilities and developmental delays. This program helped us learn what signs to watch for if there were any developmental issues. Fortunately, none of our children suffered from developmental delays. It is a wonderful program with an amazing amount of resources and support for families. For more information go to www.dars.state.tx.us/ecis/.
8. Sleep is the best discipilinary tool I've found. We diligently enforced bed times during the week and on weekends. Even during daylight savings time we kept the same bed time. I would use a black out curtain. It was simply a tension rod with black felt but it did the job. Also, my children napped or at least rested each day. *Important - Never wake a sleeping baby!!!
9. Implement a zone defense rather than man on man. You are out numbered, plan accordingly. We were able to use our living room as the babies play room. We were able to close it off and keep them and their "mess" more or less contained.
10. Trust your own instincts. You are the expert about your babies. For example, we read to let your babies cry themselves to sleep. That is a crazy idea to use with multiples. Think of the chaotic chain reaction that would cause. We could not let our kids cry. That meant we didn't sleep a great deal but that's what we chose to do.