Episode 138 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
We continue our father of twins interview series with Tom Owen, father of twin girls.
Listen as we explore his twin journey, including:
- Finding out about twins when it was the last thing they were expecting
- Dealing with the “anomaly” scan during the pregnancy
- Preparing for trouble when expecting twins
- Handling the roller coaster of emotions during the ultrasound checkup
- When Mom’s water broke and the nurse couldn’t find both twins’ heartbeats
- When keeping the twins’ gender secret was spoiled at the last possible moment
- Low birth weight babies meant Mom couldn’t hold both of them
- When mom and dad couldn’t hold or touch their babies the day they are born
- Moving when you have twin infants at home
- When Dad took care of the twins solo for three days
- Milestones that made parenting twins easier
- The hidden challenge of when your twins start crawling and walking
- The joy of having twins interact and play with each other
- When one twin is the troublemaker and recruits her sister
- Typical schedule for two year old twins
- Dreading the transition from cribs to beds
Visit Tom’s Lord of the Twins blog
Joe: Hi there and welcome to the 138th episode of the Dad’s Guide to Twins podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. As always, you can find me on the web at twindadpodcast.com, where you’ll find much more information about having and raising twins, along with the show notes and transcripts for this and all previous podcast episodes. Today’s show is brought to you by my second book for fathers of twins. It’s called, “Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins”. You can learn more about that book at raisingtwinsbook.com.
Today on the show, we are continuing our father of twins interview series, with fellow father of twins, Tom Owen. Let’s jump right into that interview. Today I’d like to welcome to the show fellow father of twin girls, Tom Owen. Welcome to the show, Tom.
Tom: Thank you …thanks for having me.
Joe: Tom, tell us about your girls right now. How old are they and what’s the most exciting thing about this stage?
Tom: Well, my girls, they’re coming up to two. They’re going to be two in about five weeks or so. I think the most exciting thing about the stage they’re at the moment is that they are learning to communicate properly. And it’s a two-way communication. Six, seven months ago, I could talk to the girls and you know that they understand because they follow instructions, “Pick that up” or “Come over here” or “Put your socks on”, whatever it is, but we’re kind of at the stage now where they’re starting to communicate back. They can tell you what they want.
Remembering what it was like just after they were born, the one thing you want to know, all the time, is what do you want from me? Now we’re kind of at that stage now, where there’s this two-way street of communication and it is really, really lovely to start having that proper interaction with them.
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Joe: That is a great stage because you don’t have to guess as much anymore because they can communicate to you what they want.
Tom: Yeah, yeah, exactly. As you experienced yourself in the first few weeks, in the first year or whatever, you know they want something. With all your heart, you just want to know what it is that they want from you. Now, it’s great because you can, I wouldn’t say you can have a conversation with them, but you can get a bit of a dialog going. It’s also because you can settle that problem.
A classic example was this evening. My daughter wanted something and for the first time, she said she wanted the step, so she could see what was going on on the kitchen worktop. That’s the first time I’ve heard that word, but even one week ago she would have been really frustrated trying to make out, trying to explain to me what it was that she wanted. Today she just came out with the word “step” and it’s like, “I know exactly what you want. We can solve this problem straight away.”
Joe: That’s wonderful. Well, take us back in time. Tell us about your family situation when you found out that you were going to have twins.
Tom: We’d been married, I think, less than a year. A good person would know it exactly, but I think we’d been married less than a year. My wife found out she was pregnant, which was amazing news. I don’t know what the situation is in the U.S., but over here in the U.K., what we have is at 12 weeks you basically get your first scan to sort of see what’s going on and to make sure that everything’s proceeding as it should be.
I was dead excited for this 12 week scan. I was really, really looking forward to it, with that sense of apprehension as well that you have in the back of your mind that you can get some pretty bad news at that point. You try not to think about that. When we got in there, the sonographer was over my wife’s tummy with the machine, the ultrasound machine and she paused for a little bit. You know you always get that moment when you think, “What is it? Is it bad news?”
Then she said, “There seem to be two here. I think you’ve got twins.” I didn’t really have time to take that news onboard because my wife, and apparently this is a very common reaction, but my wife immediately just burst into tears at this news. She was so overwhelmed herself. I thought, “My word.” When you hear that your wife’s pregnant, your first though isn’t, “Oh, I wonder if it’s twins.” You read all these books, at least I did. I’m a data junkie. I read all these books about pregnancy and the fact of twins was always a footnote at the end of a chapter. It would always say, you’d get to the end of the chapter and it would say, “Oh, by the way, if you’ve got twins or a multiple birth, some of this might not apply to you.” You never really think, “Oh, my wife’s pregnant. It could be twins.” You just think, “Twins probably won’t happen to me.”
When I found out that my wife was pregnant, she got, she suddenly burst into tears with the overwhelming-ness of the news that I didn’t really have time to digest it because I was obviously thinking about my wife and making sure that she was okay and so on, so forth. As it turns out, everything is absolutely okay. They’re wonderful, but to be honest with you, I’m not really sure if I’ve ever really digested that information yet. It still kind of catches me by surprise at sometimes.
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Joe: You’re right. It’s not expected. You know it is in the realm of possibility, but you never think it’s going to happen to you and “Surprise, here they are. You’re going to be a father of twins.” As you went through the pregnancy, with your wife there, what were some of the big concerns that you had about your wife’s health or about the babies?
Tom: About the babies was, over here in the U.K., we get the 20 week, what they call, they give it this horrible name, the 20 week scan. They call it something like I think it’s the anomaly scan. That’s just a terrible word, but it does bring home to you the reality of what can happen. I don’t know, maybe I’m a pessimist, but you start to read or at least I started to read books to say what happens, what could you possibly discover at the anomaly scan. You read all these statistics and of course all the statistics say, “This probably won’t happen to you. There’s one in a hundred chance of this or one in twenty million chance of this”, but you can’t help thinking, “What if?”
I tried desperately not to read all the bad stuff, but it’s still sometimes difficult to not prepare yourself for it. I think to a large degree, I wanted to be prepared for anything, so I could say, “Okay, if this has come up on the anomaly scan, that’s fine. I know what it is. I know how to deal with it. We’ll work through this.” For my own personal-ness, for myself, it was getting set for that 20 week scan and just trying to get through that scan and make sure everything was fine. Thank the Lord, everything was.
As far as my wife was concerned, it was trying to sort of help her adjust to the fact that everything was different, because when we got married we had this dream of having a baby and again, it isn’t very much like the books the way you think about it. I don’t know if that’s happened to you, but when you visualize it, you always just visualize just one child and how you push that one child around the [push train 00:06:39]. You’d be nursing that one child and putting that one child to bed. It’s quite a big adaption that you have to make, to try and adjust everything you’d thought about since you thought about becoming a father or indeed a mother, to duplicate that and realize that it’s going to be so much more difficult.
That journey was basically, for me, it was a question of getting to the 20 week scan and making sure everything was okay and just making sure that my wife was prepared for everything and just trying to get through the period where you could have the worst of the worst possible news. That was the big ticket for me, I think.
Joe: How was the 20 week scan? How did it turn out?
Tom: Well, it turned out absolutely fine, absolutely fine, not a problem whatsoever, which was great news. You know, you probably experienced this yourself that when you’re in there, the sonographer, because they’re doing … I think it’s a lot more work than they do at the 12 week scan. The sonographer goes very, very quiet for really long periods of time. You start to think to yourself, “Oh my word, what’s going on? Has she found something? Has he seen something that’s going on here? Is he concerned about something?” It was absolutely fine. We came out a completely clean bill of health for all the, the sizes were relatively good for twins. No anomalies whatsoever. The chances of this was really low. The chances of that was extremely low, so we came out it without a problem.
Personally, I had a bug internal sigh of relief. I don’t think I let my wife, at the time, I don’t think I let her know how concerned I was that they might find something. It was a very internal sigh of relief for me that we got through that point where statistically everything was going to be fine, absolutely fine.
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)
Joe: Yeah, I had similar feelings during the scans because you see the images on the screen. You don’t really know what they are or what they represent. You’re right. The technician in the room or the doctor’s looking around and they look at a bunch of different things before they explain what’s happening. There’s always a fear that something could be wrong.
Tom: I don’t know if this happens to you, but I almost try to diagnose these images myself. When a friend shows me a scan of a baby, says, “Hey, my wife’s pregnant. Look, this is a scan of the baby.” I can’t tell the head from the feet, but during that scan, in my head, I was becoming some kind of sonographer expert and saying, “Oh, well, I think that one looks okay. I’m not sure about that toe there or whatever”, just completely making it up. It all turned out okay in the end.
Joe: How far through the pregnancy did your wife make it before the babies were born?
Tom: We got to 33 weeks and six days, so we were six weeks early. We’d had a barbecue with my brother and his son who was fairly new at the time. We were laughing and joking, “Hey, maybe when we next see each other, we will, there might be another baby on the scene.” We were kind of joking about that because we were going to see my brother in a few weeks. Went to bed that evening and my wife’s water broke that evening. We were fairly early, six weeks early and the girls were very, very small when they were born as well. There was a lot of concern from the hospital about their size and about how early they were, but luckily they turned out absolutely fantastic.
Joe: Were there any complications with the delivery?
Tom: Not anything too extreme. Not anything that, especially someone who’s got twins or has dealt with twins has, will have experienced themselves. I think the worst moment for us, in fact there were two pretty poor moments. Number one was what they do, as you know, is they sort of put a strap around the mother’s tummy to get the heartbeats of the baby, so they can monitor the baby’s progress throughout the whole labor and all the contractions and make sure everything’s going fine. Obviously with twins, you need two of these monitors to figure out what’s going on.
They put one strap on and they found, they got a heartbeat for one child. They said, “Okay, that’s absolutely fine.” Then they got the second strap and they put that around my wife’s stomach and couldn’t get the heartbeat and then, so they moved it to the left a bit. No, nothing there and a little bit to the right and up and down and all sorts. For about 20 minutes, the nurse was repositioning this second monitor to try and find the heartbeat of the second baby, so she could be monitored. She couldn’t, for the life of her, find this heartbeat.
After about 20 minutes, she said, “I’ll be back in just a moment. I just want to go and get somebody.” She walked out of the room. She left myself and my wife there in the room, no explanation, but we’d figured out what was going on, that there was something that wasn’t right. She came back, the nurse, about probably only about two or three minutes later, which felt like two or three years later to us. The whole time she was out of the room, I think my wife and I didn’t say a word to each other, but we looked at each other and we both knew that there was a possibility that the second one was no more, that the second child was no more.
The nurse came back in the room with somebody and evidently someone who was much more qualified than her because she managed to find the baby’s heartbeat pretty quickly, particularly after my wife had noticed and said, “I think you need to put that switch on the machine on and that will activate the second belt and we might be able to find the heartbeat then.” Lo and behold, that’s what happened, but that was the worst possible moment for me, when you think everything’s great and then you’re at that really exciting stage when you think you’re close to meeting these people you’ve been dreaming about for a long time and then you think that one of them’s gone. That was a very difficult moment for us.
The other difficult moment didn’t actually happen to myself. It happened to my wife. That was she actually overheard … throughout the entire pregnancy, I should say, we chose not to find out the gender of the babies. As it turns out, it was two girls, but she accidentally overheard two of the nurses talking about my wife’s pregnancy. It must have been somewhere on the notes because they said, “Oh, yeah, she’s just about to have two girls.” My wife found out just before she gave birth. Literally about 20 minutes before she gave birth, she found out what she was having.
Joe: Oh, no. Did, was it still a surprise or did she tell you?
Tom: No, no. She was kind enough to keep that from me, so it was a surprise for me, but rather embarrassingly and I really hope that I’m not the first father in history to do this, when the first girl was born, who is Madeline, when she was born the nurse held her up to me and said, “Here’s your baby. What sex is it, Daddy? What sex is it, Daddy?” I was so overwhelmed with emotion, I couldn’t figure it out. I sort of looked and there was sort of a mess of blood and fluids and umbilical cord and legs and belly button and I thought, “I have no idea. Can you just tell me what gender this baby is?” She had to tell me.
When the girls were born, they were really, really tiny. Forgive me, I can’t remember the weight, but it was very, very low. What had to happen was the girls were 20 minutes apart. I think that’s about standard for twins to be around 20 minutes apart. How far apart were yours?
Joe: Ours were two, but they were born via Caesarian section. Were your babies just born vaginally?
Tom: Yeah, in the natural way, as it were. They were born about 20 minutes apart. They were so underweight that the first one, my wife got to hold the first one, Madeline, for about five minutes, maybe a little bit more before contractions started with the second one. Then when the second one came, Sophie, she was so tiny as well. Even now, she’s the smaller of the two, very noticeable the smaller of the two, even though they’re twins and they’re the same age. They were so concerned with her, they didn’t even let my wife hold her before basically taking her, putting her on a trolley and taking her away to an incubator straight away because they also had a little bit of problem breathing.
My wife was obviously quite upset by that. The staff did absolutely the right thing. I don’t hold a grudge, but it is very, it must have been so heartbreaking, so heartbreaking for my wife to not be able to hold Sophie when she was born. Sophie went off in one direction and my wife went off in another direction for some postnatal care. Then I was sort of stuck in this, well, stuck, but I was left in this empty surgery, where my children had been taken off in one direction, my wife been taken off in another. All the surgical staff had disappeared and I was standing there in my scrubs trying to convince myself I was looking as good as George Clooney in these scrubs, but thinking, “What is the right thing to do? Do I go off and follow my wife or do I go off and follow my children? Which one do I do?
Anyway from memory and it’s all very, very blurry, but from memory I think I figured, “Okay, if my wife isn’t seeing the children, perhaps I should go off and see my wife first. That’s probably the best thing to do.” That’s what I did. I sat with my wife while she came down from the drugs as it were. Then they took her upstairs and I went off to see the children in their incubators. Of course the worst thing there is that they say, “You can’t pick them up.” That, again, is heartbreaking.
Joe: Since they were born so early and were so small, how much extra time did they need to spend in the hospital before you could bring them home?
Tom: Now I think it was three weeks, but it felt like many lifetimes. Again, going back to these books and the movies that you see and the TV shows you see, there’s always this triumphant moment, isn’t there, that a few days after the birth the wife comes out and you come home with the baby to this wonderful moment of swelling music and we had to leave the hospital without them. That was, again it was, it’s kind of like funny that you’re having twins, in the first place. That was something that was so unexpected and something that I hadn’t even considered was within the realms of possibility naively, you could say, that it was difficult to deal with that. Lord knows how it must have been for my wife.
I know that I’m painting this out to be a very negative picture. It has been a great journey and the girls are absolutely fantastic and all the decisions that were made by the nursing staff and the doctors were absolutely the right ones, but I think if somebody could have told me, somebody who’d been through it before, “You have to be prepared for the reality that, as the father of a twin, you are much more likely to go home without them and have to come back and visit them, as often as you can”, I think it would have helped. I don’t think in anything that I read, I was really, really prepared for the fact that that was such a stark possibility compared to what I would term a normal pregnancy, as it were.
Joe: Yeah, that is always a possibility with twins that you’re going to go home without them, which is a shock. How were you able to adapt to bringing them home after those three weeks at the hospital?
Tom: We were elated. We were totally elated. In fact, I know that a lot of new parents won’t take their children out for weeks and weeks after getting them home. I think we were at home for 20 minutes before we said, “Let’s get them in the buggy and let’s take them out.” We were just so overjoyed to finally have them home because I guess we’d had that extra three weeks of having to go to the hospital and come back. We were really lucky. We were about, literally about six minutes drive from the hospital. There were some people in the hospital who had to drive for hours to get there, so we were really lucky.
When we got them home, we were so elated, we took them out immediately. We had just such a ball when we finally had them home. At the time, we were still living in a one bed apartment, so that was challenging. It wasn’t the largest of apartments either. It was a bit of a challenge to squeeze everything in because yeah, the babies are small, but it’s the paraphernalia. It’s all the stuff that they come with, which is the difficult bit, I think. That’s what takes up the space, but luckily we moved, I think about six weeks after they were born.
Joe: How was that moving with babies? How did you handle the logistics of that?
Tom: The logistics were fine because my wife’s parents are very close and they’re very, very good people. Fortunately my mother-in-law, right, she runs a nursery for children, a kindergarten, so she is so used to handling very, very, very small children. Obviously them being her first grandchildren as well, she’s really hands on. Effectively, it was a question of saying, “Right.” To the grandparents, “Here you go. Here are a couple of babies. We will go off and do the move. We’ll do all the painting. We’ll get the nursery decorated and everything.” They were just super throughout that entire time and have been ever since, in fact.
Joe: That’s wonderful to have family close by that can help because just a single baby by itself is difficult. Twins can be overwhelming at times, unless you have some extra hands to help.
Tom: Yeah. People with triplets, Lord knows how they manage, but twins is hard enough. Yeah, if you’ve got parents nearby, unfortunately for me, my parents, my own parents are a little bit scattered, so they’re not too close by. I don’t like to think how we would have coped. Obviously we would have coped because I think as a parent of twins, you just get on with it, don’t you? It would have been so much harder without them and would now be so, still be very hard without having my wife’s parents to help out.
Joe: When you look back at that first year with your girls, what were some of the biggest challenges or surprises that you had with them?
Tom: My biggest surprise, because I’d gone back to work, pretty much straight away and my wife had taken a considerable amount of time off … They’re very, very generous with maternal and paternal leave here. I had to go back to work pretty much straight away because I’m the manager of the company. My wife took a lot of time off, but there was one time when she was ill and I mean really ill, the worst flu you can imagine. She was in a really, really bad way. That was the two or three days when I said, “You are not getting out of bed. You are not moving a muscle. You’re not even changing one nappy. You’re not lifting up the children. I’m going to look after everything.” That two or three day period, when I was up at 1 a.m., 1:35 a.m., 1:45 a.m., 2:05 a.m. for three nights on the [inaudible 00:21:48], really opened my eyes to what my wife was dealing with at the time.
Now, for the record, I don’t want to imply that I wasn’t helping out before. I very much was, but largely speaking throughout the night, although I would help when I could, given that I would have to be up at five, six in the morning to get to work, my wife would effectively do the night time duty. When I said, “I’m taking time off work, looking after you, looking after the children, night time duty and day time duty is mine.” By the end of those three days, I was a mess. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t act straight. I probably forgot how to feed not only the children, but myself. I think that was the biggest shock for me then.
The biggest change after that, which came as a complete surprise, was that around six or seven months old, and I know a lot of your listeners are going to hate me for this, but around six or seven months old, my children started sleeping through the night. They, largely speaking, they’ve been like that ever since. The funny thing is when you tell people that you’re having twins or that you’ve got twins, twin babies, their response is always, “Oh, my word. You’re never going to sleep again. You’re never going to get a decent night’s sleep. You must be up at all hours, etc., etc.” Amazingly and maybe it’s because they take after me, but the girls, around six or seven months, started sleeping right through and I know how lucky we are and I thank God every day for the fact that they do this.
Joe: Yeah, that is the biggest milestone that makes life easier for a parent of twins is when they start sleeping through the night because when you are sleep deprived, everything is miserable, just like you described. It’s hard to function at home. It’s hard to function at work. Once you get that more consecutive sleep, it makes all the difference in the quality of your life. Besides sleeping through the night, what are some of the other milestones that they’ve hit that have made things easier for you as a parent?
Tom: There are the typical milestones, like moving. Well, I [inaudible 00:23:50] by saying, “Moving.” Obviously they could move from when they were born, but being able to move around a room independently, be that crawling or walking in particular. I guess, you kind of wish that your child would reach this milestone of being able to crawl or being able to walk because it would make them more independent, which would make you more independent. If they wanted to move from A to B, you wouldn’t have to pick them up and carry them from A to B. They could make that journey themselves and everybody’s happy.
When they first started crawling and when they first started walking, that was, we thought, a godsend, but as you probably experienced yourself, it’s a double edged sword because for two reasons. Number one, when they start moving, they start falling over and they start hurting themselves. They run into walls and they trip up and they trip over each other. That was a big problem and we thought, “Oh, finally they’re moving. If they want to get from one side of the room to the other, that’s actually brilliant. They can do it and we don’t have to be there the whole time.” Then you discover, “Okay, they’re going to injure themselves by moving on their own.” Then you have to start to think, “Well, okay, what have we left out that they might injure themselves on?” Not that we were in the habit of leaving razorblades on the floor or anything, but you do suddenly have to think in a completely different way. That was one milestone, which is particularly memorable.
Specifically about twins was the milestone about them starting to play together and be aware of the fact that this other person, who is next to them the whole time, was actually someone you could have fun with and not just another thing that sat there and made noise. That was a big thing because I know I hear the stories and I read the stories about, “Oh, my word, from day one my children just loved each other and couldn’t stop cuddling each other and making each other laugh, etc., etc.”
Our reality was somewhat different. Our kids kind of annoyed one another mostly to begin with. They would wind each other up and one would steal the other one’s dummy or the pacifier. They would steal each other’s food. They, I wouldn’t say they didn’t like each other, but they had a tough time tolerating each other. In the last, probably in the last six months and what, they’re coming out to two now, so maybe aged around 18 months, that’s when they have started to think, “Right. This other person that’s next to me is good for entertainment value. If I do something, she might do it as well, which is frankly hilarious. Or if I walk over to the other side of the room and shut the door, she might join me in that room where I shut the door. That would be absolutely brilliant.” They’ve finally got to that stage where …
Yes, they do still wind each other up and sometimes you think, “You two really don’t like each other”, but ultimately they start to communicate with each other. If one of them is up before the other, they will go to the one who’s still asleep and awake them up and say, “Get up. It’s time to play. We’re going to have a great time today.” It’s taken a long time to get to that stage, so my advice would be that if your children, your twins don’t really appear to get on, I think my advice would be that’s perfectly normal, but just hang around because it will happen. It might take longer than you would hope, but it will happen.
Joe: That’s right. They do become good friends and are able to play with each other, also get into trouble together because trouble always looks like a lot of fun when you have a friend, a buddy to do it with.
Tom: Yeah. I don’t know about yours, but we’ve certainly got one ringmaster, out of the two. There is one who will, you can see it in her eye that she is the one who will always come up with the cunning plan that is going to get them into trouble. I don’t know if that’s the same with your children?
Joe: Yeah. There’s usually a leader. Sometimes it changes. One of them has a good idea and when I say, “good” I mean, good for them, but probably bad idea. Then the other one thinks, “Well, that’s wonderful. I’m going to do that too.”
Tom: Yeah. “If she’s come up with the idea, then it must be a great idea. Let’s do this.” Yeah, totally. I grew up with two brothers. We were reasonably close in age, so there were three of us in total. I can see the same thing happening. We’re mirroring exactly what I did with my brothers, so I should have seen it coming really.
Joe: Well, now that your girls are almost two, tell us about a typical day in the life of your twins. What time do they wake up, what’s their schedule like during the day and when do they go to sleep at night?
Tom: Okay. Well, they wake up … It depends obviously on the … Well, they will always wake up at the same because they do that, which is usually around 7, 7:30, so not extreme at all. We’re very, very lucky in that respect. Let’s say it’s a typical weekend. They’ll wake up at that time. My wife or I will usually pick them up and get them into bed with us, where they will have great fun. They’ve just discovered being underneath the duvet and underneath the blankets is the most fun you can possibly have. We’ll play with them in bed and then we’ll get up. We’ll give them some breakfast, usually toast or a bit of cereal.
They used to nap twice a day, but now they’ll only nap in the afternoons for one hour or so, two hours if we’re lucky, 30 minutes if not. They’ll tend to have lunch probably about 12, half 12, so fairly early-ish lunch, I guess. We’ll tend to give them their dinner about, what, 5:30, I suppose. Bath time is usually around 6, 6:30. A bit of milk before bed and usually watching In The Night Garden, which is some BBC kids program we have over here. Then they’ll generally be in bed by 7:30. As far as they’re concerned, that’s when the fun begins because their cots are pushed right up next to each other, so they will usually spend about 30 minutes swapping dummies, kicking the side of the cot and thinking that’s absolutely hilarious, hiding under blankets and generally just having fun with each other.
Then we’ll usually go in by 8:00 and they’ll have exhausted themselves and they’ll be lying down on the blankets. We’ll just tuck them in and hopefully that’s it for another 11 hours or so.
Joe: That’s a great schedule. Yeah. Bed time is always fun time and getting them to actually calm down and go to sleep is a challenge. It sounds like they’re still in their cots. They’re still kind of contained or are they on their own beds where they can get out and walk around the room?
Tom: No, they’re totally contained at the moment, but I have seen the older one and the taller one, particularly, I have seen her lift her leg up and almost get it over the edge of the cot. I’m thinking I’m going to have to take the side of the cot off and turn it into a little bed. I accept that. What I’m dreading is the fact that that means that when I put them in bed at 7:30, whenever it is and I shut the, switch off the light, shut the door, the last thing they’re going to do is stay in bed. When they realize that they can get out, which they will do within seconds, it’s going to be a much, much more challenging time. Part of me thinks that, “Let’s just leave them to play and they will fall asleep on the floor at some point and then we can just pop them back in bed at 8:00 and that will be it.”
Then the other part of me thinks, “Should I be more disciplined and say, right, every time they get out of bed, go up there. Put them back in bed. Shut the door. Turn out the lights. Wait five minutes, go up and do the same thing until they accept that they are just going to have to fall asleep in bed.” What’s your advice there?
Joe: That was a big challenge for us too. It hit us suddenly around the same age your girls are, where one of them just climbed out of the crib and we’re like, “Oh, no. She escaped. What do we do?” We had to transition them to beds. The biggest challenge there was they would destroy stuff in their room. They would pull everything out of their dresser drawers and they would make a huge mess. Then they would … You mentioned the light. We had a little night light. They would pull that out of the wall. They would do everything.
We had to continually go back in and remove things that were dangerous or a distraction to get them to limit their options of what they could do.
Tom: Oh, yeah, I know. In fact, I just spent, funny I’ve just this weekend, spent probably more time than a competent DIY person would, but I spent a long time screwing the wardrobes and the drawers and everything like that to the walls because I can just see that the time I take those sides of the cots, off the cribs and they start crawling around, I can just see them pulling those Ikea wardrobes onto themselves and doesn’t bear thinking about. It really doesn’t, so I’ve started to baby proof the nursery, realizing that this moment is going to come any day now.
Joe: It’ll be fun. It’ll be a fun journey. I think we had success because we were consistent in putting them back in their room and taking out the distractions. After about a week of just craziness, they started to settle down each night. They would fall asleep earlier and earlier until it was back into a normal routine again, but it did take several nights for them to get in a new good habit.
Tom: You would put them in their cribs or their beds by that point and it took about a week before they would just stay in their beds. Is that right?
Joe: Correct. The first night, it was hours of us putting them back on the bed, turning off the lights. The next day it wasn’t as long. The day after that it was a little bit shorter. Eventually they … I think it was a combination of us reinforcing what they needed to do, stay on their bed and calm down and the fact that they were getting so tired because they were not getting enough sleep because they were staying up to party every night. Eventually they just got so tired, they were like, “I’m just going to lay down and fall asleep because I’m exhausted.” It took about a week to get them back into a good routine.
Tom: Okay. It’s going to be a long week, but at least I know there’ll be an end in sight.
Joe: That’s right. Tom, as we wrap up, if listeners want to get ahold of you, what’s a good way to reach out and contact you?
Tom: Okay, well, I’ve got an Instagram account, which is Lord of the Twins. I’ve also run a little blog. It’s just basically my musings on life as a twin parent, which is LordoftheTwins.wordpress.com. You can get in touch with me via any of those means.
Joe: Wonderful, Tom. We’ll link up to those in the show notes, so people can connect to you. Thank you so much for sharing your twin journey with us today. We really appreciate it.
Tom: No problem.
Joe: Hope you enjoyed that chat with Tom about his journey so far with his twin girls. Again if you want to reach out and get ahold of Tom or check out his blog, I’ll link up to those in the show notes at twindadpodcast.com.
As I mentioned at the top of the show, today is brought to you by my second book for fathers of twins. It’s called “Dad’s Guide To Raising Twins: How To Thrive As A Father Of Twins.” You can learn more and get your own copy of that book at raisingtwinsbook.com. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time
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