Don’t let this book’s title fool you. While Stephanie Woo is the mother of twins — hence, her title, Raising Your Twins — this book applies to raising any children, whether one or multiple. Her real-life parenting tips as well as advice on how to maintain your relationship with your spouse (her husband even chimes in with his own section on this topic) will give you more than enough tips to keep you busy being a better parent, part of which includes learning how not to be busy by finding some time for yourself after you teach your children how to entertain themselves.
Throughout the book, Stephanie uses her twin daughters, Brooke and Mackenzie, as her primary examples, including numerous photos of them demonstrating their skills at eating, playing with mobiles, and how she set up play and nap areas for them. But Raising Your Twins is more than one mother’s parenting experiences. Stephanie comes from a family of childcare educators. Her mother is a teacher of the Montessori method, who operates five Montessori schools in Taiwan, and Stephanie is herself AMI Montessori certified, so Stephanie includes a lot of Montessori tips as well as her mother’s own tips about raising children.
What really amazed me about Raising Your Twins is the common sense, outside of the box, and progressive, thinking that Stephanie displays in discussing how to raise her twins, especially in terms of teaching them how to entertain themselves.
Stephanie divides the book into various chapters, including: Eating, Sleeping, Movement, and Keeping Babies Self-Occupied, and then these chapters are divided into sections according to the ages or development stages of children, such as 0-3 months, 3-10 months, or 11+ months, depending on the topic. This division is useful because it allows parents to anticipate their child’s next stage. As a bonus, Stephanie includes a shopping list at the end of each chapter so parents will know what they will need to buy as their children get older, covering the ages from birth to three years old.
All of the advice in this book is proven and tested. Stephanie herself attests that “I experienced extraordinary results. My girls started sleeping twelve hours a night by ten weeks old. They are and have always been completely unafraid of water. They were drinking out of a regular glass cup at eight months and could eat entire meals by themselves by twelve months.”
The aspect of Raising Your Twins that I found most remarkable was its focus on helping children to become self-sufficient. Stephanie points out that such self-sufficiency is the purpose of the Montessori method, saying, “If we wanted to answer the question, ‘What Is Montessori?’ in a single phrase, we might look to the experience of Dr. Maria Montessori herself. One day, as she was working with children, a child said to her, ‘Help Me Do It Myself.’ THAT is Montessori. A Montessori child isn’t just given fish; he is taught to fish.” Stephanie goes on to explain that some parents might not want to teach their children to eat at such a young age because they figure in time that children will learn on their own, but Stephanie states: “Personally, I don’t want to be spoon-feeding my children till they are six years old. I had children so I could enjoy them, not so I might become their slave! And with twins, the point is even more pertinent because there are two children, not just one! Consequently, the attitude in our household is one that encourages independence in every possible way.”
One other point about self-sufficiency I appreciated was Stephanie’s focus on teaching children to be self-occupied. Such self-occupation can be achieved through simple methods such as you, the parent, changing the mobile in the child’s room every 15 minutes or so to keep your child entertained and give you 15 minutes to yourself. Stephanie has also learned how important it is not to interrupt children during their playtime or when they are engaged in any independent activity.
While I don’t have children myself, I have watched plenty of friends raise their children and I have babysat numerous hours so I can see how effective the advice and methods in this book are and how easily they can be implemented if a parent is willing to put in the time and be consistent. A little extra time now will free up time for a parent in the long run. More importantly, it will help your children to become happier, less dependent, raise their self-confidence, and make them interested in continual learning as they grow older.
Raising Your Twins is a groundbreaking childcare book. I hope for the sake of all parents that Stephanie continues to write more books as her daughters grow older. She’s already blogging about her daughters as they grow up, capturing their development in words and photos on a regular basis.
For more information about Stephanie Woo and Raising Your Twins, visit Stephanie’s blog.