Being an identical twin shouldn't mean missing out on being an individual.
Ever since I discovered I was pregnant with identical twins, my mind whirled on all of the implications that their "sameness" would have for their life.
I'm 18 months younger than my sister and while we are completely different in so many ways, I always felt a level of comparison throughout school to my high achieving, A-type, well-behaved older sister.
This has directed many choices I've made to help foster carving out my daughters’ unique identities. I named them opposite ends of the alphabet. I never ever dress them the same, I do their hair differently, I have a special way of connecting with one who hates kisses and the other who simply cannot get enough. I'm working hard to notice their unique skills, praise them for that and encourage their continued development in that area.
One thing their Dad and I haven’t done particularly well is providing the girls with substantial amounts of dedicated one on one time with each of us. I had good intentions of doing this, but it's logistically difficult as a full time parent with a working husband. And if ever the grandparents want to babysit, I really want both girls to go and stay the day so I can whizz through the mountain of jobs that need to be done.
I recently spoke to an identical twin, who is also a father to identical twins, and his advice on how to help them find their own identities, was "Make sure you don’t put them in the same class at school."
However I've already decided that they won't be in the same class and selected a primary school that has multiple classes for each year level. My perspective is that their whole life to date they have experienced people getting them mixed up or asking ‘which one are you’ even though I dress them differently, and this confusion will be further compounded when they wear an identical school uniform! I've even requested that when the girls go to preschool next year, that although they are there on the same days, that when they have group activities that they are separated.
Ironically when I had asked the girls, who have spent every waking (and sleeping) minute together, if they wanted to be in the same class at school, they replied no without hesitation. So I know it's something that they want too.
In a way it's no different than regular siblings being in different classes at school, who then come together at home to share the different experiences they've had throughout the day. Close age gaps between siblings (just like my sister and I) often mean that siblings spend so much time together in their early years at home or childcare that they're excited to meet new friends.
Other parents in the multiple births community have said that they kept their twins together when they first started school and then separated them around Year 3. In my opinion, this would be really hard on the twin who has to transition to a whole new class after already developing friendships for 3 years. For my girls sake I would like to provide as much stability and predictability as possible during their school years, especially as one of my daughters seems to have a strong need for consistency.
I really want them to foster individual friendships, learn to communicate without the other stepping in for them, manage themselves and most importantly, flourish and shine in their own right. Parents who feel that their twins have a strong bond and provide support for each other may not agree with that statement. Being a twin mum is a unique thing and there are lots of things to consider that parents of multiples don't. But I know most parents want all of their kids to each feel loved and understood for who they are as individuals, no matter how many siblings they have. Separating them at school means they'll have a chance for everyone to see what is special about them – apart from the fact that they are an identical twin. I imagine their teachers will appreciate it also.