This question comes from Dave. He writes in to tell me that he travels a lot for work. He says he puts about 3,000 miles a month on his car doing service calls. Now that they’ve got twins at home, he’s trying to juggle the demands of getting a good night’s sleep so that he can be safe on the road, with taking care of the twins and helping his wife at night.
So he said that he proposed he wakes up, let’s say, 1 in the morning and then takes care of the twin boys until 6:30. He’s trying to balance getting some sleep every night with his request from his wife to help take care of the kids all night long with her. The question is, “How do we go about doing this? Is there another solution?”
Get Help to Get Sleep
Well, frankly, Dave, this is a difficult situation that you’re in where you’ll need to balance the need that you have for sleep, so that you can be safe driving and get the work done that you need to, with caring for your twins. Caring for twins, especially in those early months, is not something that one person will have an easy time doing all by his or herself. So a request coming from your wife to help out is legitimate.
Remember that as you discuss things with your wife, you are both going to be tired. You’re both going to be sleep deprived because of taking turns taking care of the twins. So that’s going to affect your conversations. It’s going to affect any discussions or arguments that you have, and when we’re sleep deprived, emotion starts to take more control of our thought patterns. So you need to acknowledge that you’re going to be emotionally charged in this conversation and that you need to think through and talk through things logically with each other of how you can both meet each others’ needs and the needs of your family.
For our first few months with twins, we had a family member or a friend staying with us. That meant we could take turns on the night shift, where for two nights you were on duty and then the third night you were off, and that really helped. It also worked very well because when you had that third night off where you can sleep through the night, it was kind of the light at the end of the tunnel. It enabled you to push through the sleep deprivation to make it work. So one question for you would be, do you have any friends or family who you can recruit to come and help you at least for a few nights. Ideally, they can stay longer to help alleviate some of the burden that you have.
Twins’ Sleeping Patterns Change
Now, after our family left, my wife and I would both wake up in the middle of the night to help feed the kids. Because our girls were bottle-fed, feeding formula to them was something my wife and I could both help with. Now, this did lead to some very intense sleep deprivation, which was very unpleasant. I’ll be honest. Sleep deprivation is not a vacation.
Now, despite this our girls eventually started to sleep longer and longer, and thus we did too. So the short sleeping during the night that you see during the newborn months of twins will not be that way forever. Eventually, their sleep will start stretching out and they can go longer between feedings, and that will help you get more sleep as well. So do what you can between your work schedule and the needs for you to get a good sleep, and the needs of your wife and your family. I wish you luck as you make plans and arrangements to take care of the twins during the night.
Picture by Nathan Walker
This question was originally addressed on the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Episode 52: Balancing Your Sleep Needs With Twins & Fitting Twin Car Seats.