Episode 196 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
In this episode, I chat with Robbie Armstrong, father of fraternal twin boys.
We dive into Robbie’s twin journey, including:
- Separate birthday parties for twins
- When one twin is more vocal than the other
- Encouraging individuality
- Failure is part of the process of twin parenting
- Balancing Dad’s needs vs what is best for the children
- What to do when you feel like you aren’t doing everything you can as a Dad
- Prioritizing what is most important for your family
- When the older sibling has to adjust to twins
- Balancing sleep deprivation with parenting and life
- Making sure you have time for yourself and a support system
Joe: Today we are continuing our Father of Twins interview series with fellow father of twins, Robbie Armstrong. As always, you can find me on the web at twindadpodcast.com, where you’ll find the complete show notes and transcript for this episode 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 and get a copy for yourself at raisingtwinsbook.com
Joe: Today on the show, I’m talking with fellow father of twins Robbie Armstrong, father of fraternal twin boys and singleton boy. Robbie shares some great insights into maintaining a relationship with your spouse as well as being a good dad and giving individual attention and time to each of your children and helping them along their maturity from infants and preparing them to be adults, including some great mindsets of how to get through those early first couple of months and years that are really intense with twins and how to handle that stress and juggling the needs of your twins with your family, with your work, as you go along your twin journey. Let’s jump right into that interview with Robbie.
Robbie: So, yeah, the boy’s will be turning … they’ll be turning 12 and we have separate parties. We done this now for about five years. Separate cake, separate groups of friends. So we really don’t focus on them being particularly twins. It’s almost like coincidental that they’re born the same day. We really encourage their individual path. Now, obviously, as a parent of twins you’re aware there is almost a divine chemistry between twins.
Joe: That’s right. So when did you decide to start holding separate birthday parties for them?
Robbie: It was about … right about in grade … I think it was about grade two, grade three, and we just realized that for family purposes of course, we have extended family and there’s the … we have a strong family bond where we get together for family birthdays. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and so it’s always been a tradition where there … but they’ve always had two cakes. We found out … I found actually from a coworker who is a twin, he said … because the boys at the time, I think, they were about two or three. Yeah, they were just two, and he said, “You know what? Get them separate birthday cakes.” The thing he hated most of all being a … he was an identical twin. The thing he didn’t like the most was he never got a chance to blow out his own candles, and he always had to dress the same.
Robbie: I really took that to heart, because I remember my nephews, those are the identical twins, they really enjoyed that sense of being individual, but they were much more pair-bonded than my fraternal twins that I have today.
(RELATED: Still expecting twins? Will you be having two boys, two girls, or boy/girl twins? Answer these quick questions to see what several old wives’ tales claim you’ll be having….)
Joe: So did they celebrate on the same day, different parties, or did they spread that out on two different days?
Robbie: Well, what we’re doing now is this is the first … the last three years, they’ve been able to just determine their own list of friends and we encourage them to get your invitations out in advance, make sure that the parents know who’s coming and what we’re going to do. So what we’ve done is we’ve just … they’ve really on their own, we’ve kind of encouraged their own decision making that hey, look, we want to have separate parties. I’m not sure if this is the case with your twins, but generally speaking, there’s one personality that seems to be a little bit more … I don’t … necessarily dominant isn’t the correct word, but a little bit more emphatic, a little more vocal and one of the other ones tends to be a little quieter. Is that what you found in your case?
Joe: Yes, we have seen that with our girls as well, and sometimes they switch that role, but it’s usually just one of them that’s more vocal about their wants and needs.
Robbie: Yeah, so what we’ve kind of let … the quieter one, he’s grown more into his circle of friends and so he has that as that’s kind of his go-to and he spends a lot of time with them at school and activities and so he’s got quite a strong group of friends. Now, they overlap. We live in a great neighborhood with a lot of different families that are around the same age as our kids, our boys, and so they have almost like a shared set of friends but they also have their own unique friends that they hang out with.
Robbie: So what we’ve generally tried to encourage, and this is intentional from the time that they were in the cribs, is we’ve intentionally tried to say, “Hey, look. They’re two separate personalities and what we’re going to do, is we’re going to provide them an atmosphere, or an environment, where they can really grow to become good decision makers.” That’s our philosophy with our oldest singleton, as well, that we look at it like hey, they’re going to be looking after us one day, or they’re going to be out in society, they’re going to be out working, and they need to know how to stand or fall at their own choices. And so that’s been an intentional part of our philosophy in raising them, whereas I’ve seen with other people who have twins, they really encourage that together thing and they really focus on the twin bond and they … like, my wife and I consciously don’t refer to them as twins. I think we’re referred to them as twins maybe a dozen times in their whole life span. We generally call them the boys. Is that similar experience to yours?
Joe: Yeah, my wife and I, like you, we’ve tried to focus on their individual natures and as such, we rarely use the term twins with them. Just like you, we’d call them the girls, or when we’re talking to their brothers we’ll mention the sisters, but we never really say the twins.
Robbie: Yeah, it’s the same as our experience. So what we’ve learned, as we’ve assigned them chores and responsibilities in the house and learning to just become strong, there’s … you know that cliché that boys will be boys? We kind of turned that, my wife and I really focused on turning that on its head and saying, “No, boys are going to be men,” and, you know, girls will be girls? No, girls are going to be women. So they’re going to be responsible decision makers at some point in time so we need to provide them with that safe place where they can grown and exercise that decision making over the time they’re with us so that when they leave, like, hey look. They at least know how to stand or fall with a sense of failure. Failure’s part of life.
Robbie: I read Scott Adams book, I think every twin dad should read this, is How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win. I just came across it a couple years ago, but it really helped me to identify that hey, failure’s part of the process and twin dads, a lot of times we feel like we’re just not measuring up, we’re just not giving all that we need to, like one child will want our time and we want to spend that time with them and then the other one comes in and it just doesn’t seem like there’s ever enough. Do you ever get that sense of kind of failing to feel like you’ve really met all their time with you?
(RELATED: Still expecting twins? Will you be having two boys, two girls, or boy/girl twins? Answer these quick questions to see what several old wives’ tales claim you’ll be having….)
Joe: I mean, that’s a constant challenge, is trying to meet the individual needs of each of your children and balancing that with your work commitment and your commitment to your spouse. It’s a constant struggle. I think the direction that you’ve taken is if you focus on their individual personalities and needs, it’s a lot easier to focus on that when you do have time with them, so you kind of get a more quality experience with them because you’re not grouping them together. You’re able to focus on their individual interests and that can go a long way.
Robbie: I really agree with that, and one of the things that, coming back to birthday week and party time, is that they have that sense of, “Hey, this is my birthday. I mean, I happen to coincidentally share it with this other person,” but we’ve really fostered that in them, but hey, we’re honoring and we’re respecting and we’re showing you that you’re special, you matter, and you’re really important and what your day is really matters to us and we’re not just kind of throwing it into the windmill of events and running off to the party place over at the trampoline park or something of that affect.
Robbie: So it’s really … I think that’s one of the benefits of … I’ll tell you a story. When the boys were just babies and we had a Bertini stroller and that was a great four wheel stroller that you get out and so while I was out walking in the park with the boys and this older lady came up to me and she looked at the boys and then she looked at me, and she says, “Oh, what lovely grandchildren you have.” I thought, “Oh yeah, I’m a bit of an older dad, but I didn’t think I looked that old.”
Robbie: So there was that part of it was … has also, with a little bit of time and life experience, I’m a little bit more aware of what they genuinely need. It’s like, say if I had had the boys in my twenties, I think it would have been an entirely different focus but now that I’m a little bit older, I’m looking at, “Okay, what do these boys really need for life?” And they need a dad that’s engaged. They need a dad that shows them that mom is really important and respected, and they need someone who can lay down their personal things, things like, for example, I’ll give this just as bit of a generic example. Watching a sport event like the Superbowl. Now, we all want to be involved in a Superbowl party, but I’ve learned over the years, that hey, that’s something that I would benefit from and that would be good for me, but is it necessarily going to be good for my kids, that I spend that time?
Robbie: So I’m always calculating and weighing in my time, because like I say, being a bit of an older parent, I realize time slips away. It really does come fast, and I can’t believe they’re coming up 12 now. So that’s why I try to really, in the calculus of decision making, is, “Okay, what is the best thing that I can do to give my time to them?” Am I sitting on my phone? I think that’s common, as parents in this day and age, we’re all kind of screen wired, and that was not the common experience even, I would say, even like ten years ago. So that’s something that we’ve really had to work with them on, is how much screen time do they get?
Joe: Well, you’re spot on that they’re always watching us and so we’re giving them an example, whether we like it or not, of what the behavior we find acceptable and you’re right. It’s like how we treat our partner, how we treat them individually, how we act when they’re around. If we’re just focused on our device or if we’re focused on them as people. All that rubs off on them, and so they’re going to mimic those behaviors, regardless of what we say is the thing that they should be doing. Whether we say what is right or wrong, they’re going to watch us and that’ll be their default behavior. So we do have to be very mindful of how we are teaching our children because it’s more than just laying out the rules. You have to live it and walk the walk, because that’s what they’re going to be doing as they continue to grow and mature.
Robbie: Yeah, and that’s where I had a bit of epiphany where I returned to my Christian faith. I was away from that part of my life for a bit, and I’ve since returned and I’ve come to really understand that those guiding principles do stand the test of time, and it about respecting ourselves and the children and not raising them necessarily in a rules based functional system, but in more of a solution oriented approach to life. That’s why I said, when I picked up Scott Adams book about failure, because so often we feel as twin dads like we just don’t get to them what they need. We don’t give our spouse what she needs. We don’t give our kids, we don’t give … like if we have singleton children, we don’t feel like we give them enough, and just learning that you know what? It’s a process, and I’m being less goal oriented and more situated on the process of integrating some principles that can help us, as a family, and help them as kids just enjoy being kids.
Joe: That’s great. What are some other habits or rituals that you’ve established in your home that have helped foster, maybe, individuality in your twins or helping them prepare as they grow?
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Robbie: A couple years ago, I’m not sure exactly how this developed, but we have pizza night, and that’s a night when we just get together. Neither of us have to cook so we just order something in and then we just sit down and we just kind of share, like what’s been going on with your week? What’s happening with your class? What’s going on at the school yard? How are you feeling about stuff? So that kind of thing has come forward, and that’s been one of the kind of things that we do a lot. Like every Friday, we just set that time aside, and so that’s … again, that speaks to the intentional nature of what we’re doing here, is that we’re planning and working towards getting them to that maturity level that they’re going to succeed at. So that’s a part of it.
Robbie: One of the challenges we’ve faced is we just didn’t get them involved in activities like sporting activities. The things that we wanted to get them engaged with, we haven’t got them there yet. So it’s just … when you’ve got two working parents, things … you have to run on a certain energy level, and sometimes there’s just not enough energy level left at the end of the day for doing the stuff that they really want done. So that’s kind of a challenge we’ve had to really face as well.
Joe: Yeah, I agree. There’s only so much that you can do as a parent, as a family. You kind of have to prioritize what’s most important. We’ve had to, thinking about extracurricular activities, like you mentioned, we’ve kind of said, “Hey, if we’re going to do … your kids are going to do piano lessons and then you can pick, maybe one more thing,” and we’ve been able to juggle that, more or less. Oftentimes it means we’re going in opposite directions, but kind of have to limit what you can do. It’s fine for the kids to try something for a season and see if they really like that. If they do, keep going for it, otherwise they can switch to another activity or another sport. But they can’t do all the things all the time. That’s not realistic as a kid, nor an adult.
Robbie: No, and that’s one thing that we have tried to accomplish is simplifying life experience so it’s not cluttered up with a big schedule of stuff and places to go and people to see, so the activity becomes activity in and of itself, that what are you doing? Well, we’re actively activating ourselves, if that makes any sense. It just seems to be a lot of people get caught up in, for example, in where I live there was a bit of an emphasis on getting your children into a particular academic stream that included acquiring a second language, a particular area of studies, and it was regimental and something that I didn’t think my kids would be really comfortable with. It takes the fun out of learning. I’ve seen some pretty stressed out kids and stressed out parents because they’re trying to accomplish what they think is going to get them there, when in actual fact the best thing about having kids is that hey, I can share this experience with you and you can ask me questions.
Robbie: We have quite an open relationship with our kids on that end of it. We don’t try to keep a lot of things … I mean, there’s discretion and you have to keep things at a children’s level when they’re younger, but as they’ve gotten older, we’ve just shared with them, “Hey, dad tried this. Mom tried that.” Just keep that in mind that it’s an experimental process. I think what the regimentation of a lot of kids with the schedule in our culture, I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing.
Joe: No, it seemed a lot simpler when we were kids. Not as fast paced or complicated. There’s … I mean, when they’re growing up, they need that time to mature. They’re going to get their fair share of time constraints and pressure when they’re adults. There’s no need to rush into that, prematurely.
Joe: You mentioned that you have a singleton as well.
Joe: Is that child older or younger than the twins?
Robbie: He’s the first born.
Joe: And what was the age gap between them?
Robbie: About two and a half years.
Joe: How has the dynamic been, from like when son welcomed twins into the family to now? How’s the dynamic between those siblings?
Robbie: I don’t know what your case was, but in our case was, it really changed the relationship because I had initially had so much time and was so involved. Even though he was only two and a half, I was very much hands-on and I found that once the boys arrived, it was just like that was gone and we found ourselves just burnt out. We found ourselves in a situation where he just didn’t get the same level of interest and it was kind of a bit of an adjustment period for us. He was very accepting and took the role on quite eagerly.
Joe: And now that they’re older, I mean he’s a teenager now, how has that relationship matured over time?
Robbie: It’s … they play well together, even though he’s in that point of a high school situation and the others in elementary. At home, we see them … they still play Nerf guns. That’s a big thing in our house with boys, is Nerf guns wars and hanging out and that seems to be something that they really participate in and he’s taken on that leadership role with them. It’s been good.
Joe: You mentioned that both parents are working. Has that always been the case since the boys were born?
Robbie: No. We have different leave where I live than in the States. I think in the States you don’t have quite as much parental leave. Is that true?
Joe: That’s true. Yeah, mom’s usually get more, but dad’s could be a couple weeks if you’re lucky.
Robbie: I had a union position when the boys were born, and I went to work one day and my supervisor looked at me, he said … he called me Rob Zombie because, as you are aware and this’ll take you back to your early years, sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
Joe: That’s true.
Robbie: And what I would encourage young, especially twin dads who are just in those early, early, early years … either they’re newborns or they’re six to eight months or a year, give your spouse time to sleep. Just let her take that time because she’s just gone through an amazing experience of producing two human beings at the same time, which is … on the whole of it is such an astounding thing, marvel. So I think that’s the biggest thing is … so my boss said to me, he said, “You’re going on a month’s stress leave,” and he signed off on it so I had a month off with my wife, the first month the boys were born.
Robbie: So we were able to really enjoy that experience, but like I say, the stress of two working parents, it really puts a lot on any family and I think twins particularly because everything happens at once, as we’re finding during birthday week. We’ve got two birthdays to plan for, and then you have two sets of school events, like two kids in the same school event, like for example, a Christmas pageant. That attention’s always divided, and when you don’t have as much energy as you’d want to have and you don’t have that sense of, “Oh, man, I just would really like to get up but I just want to sit on the couch,” that kind of sense of being just really run ragged and I think it was way more so in the toddler years and the preschool years than it has now been in the later grades.
Joe: Yeah, I think that’s important to remember for the dads that are just starting on their twin journey, is those first couple of years are intense, but as you and I are learning, as they get older they get more self sufficient, they’re able to do things for themselves. Of course, they sleep through the night. That’s not a problem anymore. The responsibilities change a little bit, but it’s not being run as ragged as it is in those early, early months with a newborn, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the new twin dads that are listening, for sure.
Robbie: And the other thing is, I really encourage … I had to sit down with a good … like, I have some friends and I’m sure you do to. We all have those people that have been in our life for quite a while. They’re not necessarily family members, but they’re people that you know and you can bounce ideas off of and you can kind of be yourself around that person without having to worry. You can express, maybe, a little bit of the feelings of being overwhelmed or just, “How am I going to do this?” Those kind of feelings, you can have that kind of friend, or friends, and I really encourage twin dads to reach out to those people and you have to have your time with your pals and she has to have her time with her gals.
Robbie: I think that’s an important thing that has to be structured in even from the time that the children are in the crib. It’s so important. I mean, psychologists, studies, everything has shown that if you have that support system outside of the relationship, that then you can enter back into the relationship supported and bolstered and encouraged and then you’re good for each other and I think that’s something that a lot of twin dads to need to hear and it’s like, you know what? It’s okay to have man cave time with your pal. Just don’t be like neglecting your wife and your kids because you’re feeling your feelings, because I had an experience with one twin dad and he got himself in a situation where they ended up splitting up simply because he couldn’t and wouldn’t take on that safety valve of a buddy system and he got himself in an extra marital relationship and it was really sad. Really sad, because it just complicated an even more complicated situation.
Robbie: So what I would really encourage to twin dads is hey, look. You’re not in this alone. There are people that want to help you. There are guys that want to come along and say, “Hey, bud. Let’s …” you know, I’m not necessarily encouraging going for a beer, but just hey, you know what? You need to go play some tennis, or let’s go play some racquetball or let’s just go hang out at a pool table, just so you can vent. I think venting for guys is an important part of it, because I think the temptation that can come about, and I’m sure you’ve experienced this, is where you look at each other and you just don’t have the resources that you want to have and you just don’t have the patience that you need to have for your partner and your family, and then it can easily set off a situation where the shoulda, coulda, wouldas. The self doubt, the things that start to come in.
Robbie: We’ve got to guard against that stuff, and that’s why like I’m a firm believer in what I call the band of brothers philosophy. Like, hey, you know what? And our society is realizing what a lot of cultures and societies have realized for years is the guys hanging around the campfire after going hunting and there’s that storytelling and there’s that sense of bonding and camaraderie that’s so important not only for twin dads but for all dads. That’s a big part of what I try to do in encouraging young dads is saying, hey look. Build that tribal bond with somebody. Don’t be out there being the lone wolf because you’re going to get taken out, and it’ll take your family out with you. Is that something that you’ve heard from other guys?
Joe: That’s very true. I mean, raising twins, having twins, there’s so much stress on you and then you’re physically worn down, which then affects your mental wellbeing and your spiritual wellbeing and all that kind of weighs on you. Unless you’re very conscious about taking care of yourself and taking care of your relationship with your spouse, those things are going to deteriorate pretty rapidly because you’re just so overwhelmed by the physical needs of your children, especially when they’re very young, and unless you’re very conscious and communicating with your partner about your relationship together and about your individual needs, those things can kind of go off the rails, like you say, and we don’t want that to happen. I mean, we should be able to get through those sleep deprived early months and still maintain that relationship with your spouse and still maintain your own sanity.
Joe: But, like you say, you know, get a buddy. Get someone you can talk to that’s been in the same boat as you have been before and schedule time where you are together with your wife or you may be getting out of the house because you get a babysitter or you’re getting out of the house just for a break yourself and make sure that she gets likewise. It’s just so vital to break up those early months of just nonstop childcare.
Robbie: And this is the thing with being a twin dad, is that you’re in a situation where you got a small team developing, and so there’s … part of it’s involved is coaching and helping them to develop. But bear in mind, and I can’t stress this enough, is that you’re not alone, but you sure in heck feel like you are. I would really encourage you because I, on a very personal note, I became sober out of all this experience. I don’t condemn or judge people who use drugs and alcohol.
Robbie: I understand that each of us has our own way of processing stuff, but I would really, really encourage twin dads and say, “Hey, look. Put the bottle on the shelf for the time being”, and if you want to have a beer or you want to have a beverage or something, there’s nothing wrong that. But it’s kind of like do you want to be at your best in terms of competition, like as an athlete, then if you want to be at your best then you got to do the things that are going to get you to being your best, like what I call self care which is going for a bike ride. I do that a lot. My go-to, or my get out, is taking a bike ride now, because that gives me time to reflect and process on what I have and it brings me back refreshed and invigorated with a perspective to look after and support and be involved with the kids instead of trying to withdraw myself on a screen or deactivate.
Robbie: The horror … I think one of the most horrible things is to just kind of passively watch your kids grow. Throw them in front of screen because you’re too tired. I get that, because I’ve lived that myself, and it really takes that digging down into your soul and saying, “Hey, look. I got to look at this with a bit bigger picture. I got to look at this with a little bit more of a long view, like a long game involved.” I mean, Tom Brady … I don’t know if you got fans or guys that don’t like him, but the fact is that guy knows how to run a game clock and being a twin dad is very much like running a game clock and the plays aren’t always going to happen in the first and second quarters with our kids.
Robbie: Those things that we’re looking for aren’t always going to materialize, but if we keep that long view in mind, we can go, “Hey, look. We can make this,” and that’s why I came on your podcast today, is to to be an encouragement and to kind of help some young dad out there who’s sitting there thinking, “I just can’t make this.” Well, you can, but there’s way, steps to get out of it and I really encourage them not to fall into that trap where you’re overwhelmed, you’re tired, you’re spent and then you just kind of isolate into your own world. As difficult as it may be, and I did this because I had to force myself, is I picked up the phone and I called a buddy and I said, “Look, I’m feeling this way. This is what’s going on. I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know where the money’s going to come from for the diapers.”
Robbie: I remember those … you remember this well enough. When you’re buying diapers for two kids at the same time, I mean that eats into the family budget and then one thing drives another and then you think, “Well, this, that, and everything,” and then pretty soon it’s real easy once the money troubles start coming for the spouses … there’s a real temptation to like, “Hey, well, I need this,” or, “You need that,” and it can create some money troubles and money struggles. I think that’s just the nature of being a parent in general, but I think more specifically, twin dads need to let themselves and allow themselves to feel that sense of, “Hey, it’s okay for me to feel like I’m not just having three kids in here that are similar in age. I’m going through this with two kids at the same time.” Sometimes you wonder where is this going to come from, how are things going to work out, but they do.
Joe: They do work out. You’re right. With twins, everything is … it comes in batches. Very intense seasons of things as they go through these different cycles of life, but it’s possible. We get through it. We do it. What are some things that you have done to maintain your relationship with your wife throughout this twin journey and fatherhood journey?
Robbie: An important part of our philosophy is we never attack each other personally, but we attack the problem. My wife is not the problem. My wife is the solution. She’s an amazing person. I mean, she gave birth to two kids at once. I mean, that’s outstanding. So I look at her and I think, “I’m the most fortunate man in the world to have a wife like her.” I could not have asked for better. I try to hold that sense of amazement in my mind. It’s not always acted out. There are times when I get frustrated and angry and upset and I say things I regret, but I always try to go from that baseline of hey, I’ve got the most amazing partner in the world on this twin journey and on this journey of life and she’s my adventure friend. That’s how we’ve always referred to each other, is like hey, we’re in this adventure. And it is an adventure, having twins. There’s no doubt about it.
Robbie: And so, sometimes that perspective gets clouded and obscured but just the day to day grind of getting up, going to work, trying to make the kids lunches, trying to get them out the door to school. Sometimes it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the kind of day to day stuff and lose that, so I just … we just try to make a point where we’ll just sit back and we’ll sit out on the patio and we’ll just … I’ll just let her vent. She vents to me and I vent to her and we just kind of carry on that way. Although I’ve heard it say, but it hasn’t always been easy to implement, there is that sense of like one weeknight where you have what they call a date night. I don’t know if you’ve had that, or what’s your sense of that with other twin dads?
Joe: Yeah, date nights are awesome, but the challenge is sometimes parents are reluctant to even schedule those or they think that they can’t leave the twins with anybody or they don’t have anybody they can leave them with. We found that if you get creative in making time for you and for your partner, even if you’re going out after the kids are in bed so someone just comes over to the house, like a friend, and just sits there in case there’s a problem. You just get out of the house for an hour or two, something so you can spend time alone to talk to each other, work through some of those problems like you mentioned. That’s just so valuable. I know we would have to just put stuff on the calendar, to make a commitment to that, otherwise time would just kind of slip by and we’d realize we hadn’t gone out on a date in a while. So you have to be very mindful and plan for that and just make it happen, otherwise it won’t happen.
Robbie: I agree, and that’s what, again I’ll refer back to something I mentioned earlier about how guys and sports. Like, we have an amazing ability to find ourselves in front of that television set for the big game, right on time with stuff in hand to enjoy it and yet, you know, time with my wife? Oh, yeah. I forgot that part. I didn’t put that on the calendar. I don’t know if that … I’m only speaking a lot in generalities, but there is something to that, where what’s our priority? Really, what is it that we really want to do with our life? What kind of relationship do I really want to have with my kids? And I ask myself that. What do I really want them to know about me?
Joe: That’s a wonderful perspective, is being very conscious about how we’re interacting and parenting our children, but also our relationship with our partner is so important because once the kids are grown up and they leave the house, you still have twenty, thirty, forty more years with your partner, with your best friend, right? So it’s like if you don’t nurture that relationship during the child rearing years, it’s going to be very rocky after the kids all leave the nest.
Robbie: That’s very true. I’ve heard that on a number of broadcasts, podcasts. When I do make time to listen, that seems to be a real common thread with many, many experts is that do you have a specific allocation of time, you can call it date night, you can call it hang out time, you call it whatever you want, but is there a specific time where you know and your partner knows that that’s almost like sacred, almost not … special isn’t quite the way to put it, but there’s a sense of purposeful intent to we’re going to do this. Like I say, I’ve really made a real recommitment to my Christian values in the last couple months, and that’s part of what we’re doing together, is we’re building on that common foundation again.
Joe: That’s fantastic. Well, Robbie, thank you so much for sharing some insights into your twin journey today. If listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way to reach out?
Robbie: The best way is … I’ll give you my email, and this is kind of the difficult thing about … I’ve got a very generic email. It’s [email protected]
Joe: That’s good. And that’s from your love of bike riding, right?
Robbie: Yes. It’s my ticket out. I’ll tell you right now, it is my sanity. It’s my prayer time. It’s when I just go to get away and like I said, being sober for … I’ve been sober now ten years, and a part of it where like I just really value meditation and contemplation and time where I can recharge and then I’m good for the people around me. But if I don’t get that, and I really encourage twin dads to … not necessarily whatever religion or whatever faith you have or whatever spiritual practice you have, cultivate some form of spiritual time where you focus on not just the material things of providing for your family, but the spiritual values that you want your children to have. Like I said, we’re only as good as our last kind of exercise session in terms of … I don’t know if you’ve done weight training, but if you lapse back and take a couple of weeks off, then it’s harder to get back on the horse.
Robbie: So I just encourage guys to have … you’re the spiritual leaders of your home, and that may not be common or well accepted in our current culture, but the fact is we have a responsibility to serve and protect the spiritual elements in our home. That’s our kind of role, one of our primary roles, and I think that’s an important one that has to be encouraged.
Robbie: So, like I say, [email protected] That’s the best way to reach me. Really happy to have taken the time today because I feel like it’s an investment in other dad’s lives, and I want dads to succeed. I want you guys, like if I’m looking at you right now, I want you to succeed. I want you to make it. I want you to get out. If you’re in a hole, I want you to get out, and if I can be the hand to reach into that hole and get you up, then by all means I’ll do it.
Joe: Well, thank you again, Robbie. We really appreciate your time today.
Joe: I hope you enjoyed that chat with Robbie Armstrong, fellow father of twins. If you’d like to connect with Robbie, I’ll link up to his contact information in the show notes over at twindadpodcast.com.
Joe: Once again, today’s show is brought to you by my book Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins : How to Thrive as a Father of Twins, which will guide you all the way from newborns to infants to toddlers and beyond. You can learn more about that book at raisingtwinsbook.com.
Joe: If you’d like to share your twin story on the podcast, why don’t you reach out to me? My email is [email protected] or you can reach me on Instagram or Twitter at twindadjoe and I’d love to hear from you.
Joe: Thank you so much, and I’ll see you next time.
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