The first question today is, “Just how exhausted will I be when the twins arrive?” Now, this is a great question and it shows great insight that you know you’re going to be getting into a bit of a challenge with the amount of things that you need to do, and the toll that that is going to take on your sleep schedule and on your body.
Waking up every couple of hours with newborns will cause you intense sleep deprivation. So if you’ve never been sleep deprived before, these are some of the things that I experienced when I would wake up and help care for our twins. These are some of the symptoms that I would experience the next day when I was at work, or the next day trying to make things happen in a regular schedule.
Sleep Deprivation with Twins
You will not be able to think straight. What used to be clear and understandable to you will take extra time to process mentally. You will find yourself gazing off into space, and then realize, “Oh, what was I thinking about?” Then you’ll have to switch gears and get back to what you were doing.
You will catch yourself falling asleep, especially once you stop moving. If you sit down, even at the kitchen table for dinner, you will find yourself starting to nod off. You’ll have a harder time thinking through difficult issues at work, especially if you’re problem-solving things at work. You’re going to have to set expectations with those around you that you are sleep deprived. Hopefully, you have nice coworkers who will be accommodating and understanding as you go through this challenging time.
You will find that you are also easily distracted. It may be because you are at your house and your twins are a distraction. Or it may be that you’re not thinking clearly, so things pop up and distract you from whatever task you were working on. Thus, you will have a hard time focusing on the things that are before you.
You will easily forget things. Even if you had a good memory before, sleep deprivation will cause you to lose track of things in your short-term memory, or maybe even long-term memory.
You will be grumpy. You will not be in your best mood. You will be irritable, and so try to balance that because the people around you are going to be experiencing the grumpy version of yourself. You will be irritable and easily frustrated. So you may have a shorter temper than you did before.
Twins Can Be Completely Exhausting
So if you wrap up all these things it becomes kind of a depressing picture. However, this is all counter-balanced by the deep love that you will have for your twins that helps you power through this. The moments of holding them, feeding them, taking care of them as you start to build bonds with them, it’ll help you power through the sleep deprivation.
If you eat well, you should still have physical strength for the daily tasks that are before you. So make sure you stay up on eating good and healthy foods, and maintain your nourishment to help offset the shear exhaustion that you have when caring for your twins. Keep in mind that things are going to start to drop off of your plate, and you won’t care. So these are things that maybe you thought you had to do, and you’re not going to be able to get to them.
I talked about how the first year of twins is a complete blur and how that impacts your life back in podcast Episode #8. When the twins are here, are you going to be exhausted? Yes. Just how exhausted will you be? Completely, but that exhaustion will start to fade over time as your kids get older and get into a more established routine.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Picture by Tony Alter
This question was originally addressed on the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Episode 53: Exhaustion With Twins, Different Size Twins Schedules, Identical Twin Deliveries.
Need more help sleep training your twins? Check out this step-by-step guide to sleep training twins from fellow parent of twins, Nina Garcia: