Episode 190 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
In this episode, I answer several of your twin parenting questions, including:
- Handling twins and toddlers
- Getting the twins to listen to you
- Giving individual attention to each twin
Hi there and welcome to the 190th 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.
Today we’re answering several questions from your fellow twin parents that you’ve probably had along your twin journey if you don’t have them right now.
But before we jump into those questions, I’ll let you know that today’s episode is brought to you by my second book for father’s with 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 dadsguidetotwins.com/books.
The first question today comes from Patricia. Patricia wants to know, “How do you manage to keep up with everything and two older siblings in the first two years with twins?” As you may know, I have four children. My twin girls are the youngest and I had two older boys when they were born. When the girls were born we had four kids ages three and younger so my two older boys weren’t much older than the girls. In fact, they were all kind of in that toddler stage still. Patricia wants to know, as you may want to know if you have a toddler or another child when your twins are born, how do you manage all that?
(RELATED: Love podcasts? Check out the entire Dad's Guide to Twins Podcast archive for additional twin tips and interviews with twin dads.)
The key word here is keep up with everything and I want you to understand that it’s okay, that you don’t have to keep up with everything. You don’t have to do everything. Everything that you used to do before twins, some of that stuff you can just let it go. And maybe you can postpone that for a later time, a different season of your life. You don’t have to keep up with everything. Lower those expectations a little bit with yourself, with your family, with your coworkers, with that your friends that your not going to be everything that you were doing pre-twin, pre-twin life. And that’s okay because your twins are going to grow, become more self-sufficient and then they will be able to handle things on their own and you won’t be so burdened and you can revert to some of those things you used to do before the twins arrived.
The second thing is to, in those first couple months with twins, it is totally fine to recruit as much help as you can possibly get to help with those twins and the older siblings. This maybe grandma, it maybe your brother-in-law, your sister-in-law that comes over, maybe friends or family. If you can get some help in those first couple months while you get your feet under you and you get established with your twins, that is really really going to help you balance those needs of your newborn twins and the other siblings.
For the first two months after our girls were born we had somebody staying with us almost all the time. And it was mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandparents, friends came over, and that would help us to be able to not just take care of the twins but also the siblings. Our children were boys who at the time were three and still under two so they still needed a lot of attention themselves.
Now another thing you can do is divide and conquer with you and your partner. Now you need to decide who is taking care of whom and in our case sometimes maybe I would take care of the girls and my wife would take care of the boys. We kind of split and rotate who would do what. But it’s important that you communicate with your partner so you know who is actually taking of whom otherwise there’s going to be kids screaming and going crazy and you two are going to look at each other and wonder like, “How come you’re not taking care of the situation?” If you can be explicit in your communication with your partner of who’s taking care of whom it’s going to make things go a lot easier.
Another thing to remember is that if both parents are home, both parents are on duty. And this is really true in at least that first year, probably beyond. You may both be working. One of you maybe working. I don’t know what your situation may be but in our case, when our girls were born, after I went back to work I was working full time. My wife was home with our kids. But when I came home from work I had to just leave all that stuff behind mentally and just jump right into the tasks at hand. Taking care of the kids and helping them in the evening routine with baths and getting ready for bed and all that. It’s important to know that if you’re home, you’re on duty. If your mom, your dad, you got to be hands on deck to help with the twins and the siblings.
Now this also rolls into the nighttime care. Particularly if you’re in those infant months still with the twins, it’s not really fair to have just one parent wake up in the middle of the night and take care of the twins all by themselves. That burden I think should be shared. And one thing that is interesting for us is my wife, she had breastfed our first two boys and so I didn’t really have to get up in the night to feed them because my wife was doing that. But with the twins, we both can help in feeding them. It turned out we ended up moving from breastfeeding to formula, bottle feeding with our girls. But that was good for me as a dad because I could actually wake up in the night with my wife and take one of the babies, she could take one of the other babies and we could both juggle that need to feed them. Also a great opportunity to bond with them individually when you’re holding them and feeding them.
(RELATED: Check out the Dad's Guide to Twins Youtube channel for additional helpful twin tips and tricks videos.)
Now as your kids … You’ve got the twins, you’ve got the infants, but you also have the siblings, the toddlers. Now toddlers are interesting because oftentimes they really really want to help. They want to help you do whatever you’re doing, they want to help you do it. Now sometimes their help may not be as effective as you would do it. Nevertheless, you want to take advantage of letting those older siblings help in age appropriate ways. It could be as simple as, with our boys who were still very young, we taught them how to go get a burp cloth or go get a diaper or get the baby wipes. Go get the bottle or pick this thing up for you because you had two arms of twins. Helping, teaching those siblings how to help you in age appropriate ways will help ease that burden a little bit.
Now of course there are nap times. Now your nap times are going to be really staggered because your twins are going to be on one schedule and maybe your toddlers are going to be on another schedule but what that allows you to do when some of the kids are napping is to be able to spend time, maybe one on one or one on two, with the twins or the siblings that are awake while one or the others are sleeping. Take advantage of those nap times to catch up on one on one time with your other kids or with the twins or to take a break yourself. Just remember that that first year is just crazy nuts. It’s crazy but you get through it. Your twins grow. Your older siblings, still are kids grow a little bit. Everybody becomes a little bit more mature and a little more self-sufficient and you can do this.
This question comes from Maritza. She says her, “Twins are three and they don’t care what I say. I’m struggling with listening and obeying.” Now this is one of those challenges that we all face as parents is getting our kids to listen and the problem with twins is that they kind of follow each other’s example and lead in either a good way or a bad way. Oftentimes if one of them is going crazy, the other one wants to do the same thing. But what we found that worked for us if that if you focus on when your twins are listening, when they are doing the right thing and you give them positive praise and attention for that successful action, successful behavior, they will want more of that positive praise and attention and they’ll do it more.
You’re kind of preventing the not listening part by focusing on those small moments, even if they’re itty bitty, even if they don’t come very frequently, focus on those moments when they do obey your instructions or follow the rules of the house and praise them for that and then they will want more positive attention. Now advantage that we have as twin parents is that you’ve got two and so most of the time they’re not doing the same exact thing. Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing.
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)
Usually one of them, maybe if somebody’s doing some mischief, the other twin is doing less or not doing it at all. That’s a huge opportunity for us as twin parents because we can focus on the good behavior. There’s like a role model right there. Focus on the twin that’s doing the right thing and give them praise and attention such that the other twin sees that and the other twin, we found nine times out of ten is going to turn that behavior around and immediately want that same positive praise and attention. Take a day and focus on the moments when they do this and build on those successes and encourage more of that and eventually you’re going to see where the majority of the day they’re listening because they want your positive praise and attention.
Amanda asks, “How do I make sure both the twins feel loved and are getting what they need?” Now as twin parents that’s one thing we struggle with a lot is how do we attend to both children, the individual needs of both. Make sure we’re giving them equal time, equal attention. That’s something that’s a constant struggle. Now when they’re very young, when they’re infants, a simple play is that you take turns with your partner. You take Baby A and your partner takes Baby B. And then you rotate. Maybe it’s feeding time and you’re each taking turns feeding one or the other twins and so that way you get some bonding moments and some one on one attention with that twin. Or maybe it’s during the day when you’re changing diapers or interacting with them or playing with them. You can kind of rotate that one on one time.
Now as you’re twins get older, it’s really fun to be able to do one on one activities with each of them. Just last night I had a daddy/daughter date with my daughter and she wanted to go out and do something fun. We went out, we got a treat, we did a little scavenger hunt. Now that whole one on one daddy/daughter date, it was a school night so it was a short … We had an hour and a half together. The focus isn’t on how much time you’re spending, it’s really what you’re doing, that you’re doing something that their interested in and that they’re having fun with and that they’ll remember.
And the older your twins get, the easier it is for you to simply ask them, “Hey, what would you like to do? What are you interested in?” And then focus on making sure you recognize that each of them is different and you want to focus on an activity or something that would be fun for that individual twin. Not necessarily always grouping them together.
One thing you can do is make that you avoid plural speak, which is when you say, “Y’all,” or, “You the twins,” or “Hey, girls.” If you focus instead on each child by name it helps you focus on their individual personalities, emotions, their interests, their hobbies, things that they’re going to want to do. And then that helps you make sure that they’re feeling individually loved and are getting what they need.
Now if we roll back the clock a little bit to when they’re newborns, they have individual physical needs. They’re trying to get food, diaper changes, sleep. If you keep track of that in a journal it’ll make things a lot easier because you’re going to forget which baby ate, what time, how much each baby ate, and so if you’re tracking that methodically in a little journal or notepad it’s going to go a lot easier. And as they get older, focus on spending one on one time with them. Scheduling that ahead of time if you’ve got a busy schedule, trading off with your partner to make sure that’s possible. Maybe one of you stays home and watches the other kids or you take one of twins or one of the kids out.
If you have a question you’d like me to answer on the podcast, why don’t you reach out to me via email, [email protected], or DM me on Instagram or Twitter @twindadjoe. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.
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