Episode 198 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
In this episode I answer several of your twin parenting questions, including:
- How can I manage the chaos of the first week home with twins?
- Do you need two potties or one when potty training twins?
- How do we pay for everything with twins?
- Why are my twins only napping for 20 minutes for the first nap of the day?
- Do you ever feel like you can’t give them the attention they need due to time constraints?
- Can you tell gender based on pregnancy symptoms?
Welcome to the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast, the podcast that’ll help you survive and thrive as a father of twins. Now here’s your host, the author of the book, the Dad’s Guide to Twins, Joe Rawlinson.
Today we’ve got several great questions from twin parents like yourself, but before we jump into that, I want to let you know that today’s show is brought to you by my first book for fathers of twins. It’s called Dad’s Guide to Twins, and you can get a free audiobook version of this book at freetwinbook.com once again, that’s freetwinbook.com. Now, let’s jump right into those questions from your fellow twin parents.
The first question today is, “What should I expect with newborn twins in that first week when I bring them home?” The first week is chaos because you are getting used to life with twins. You’re getting used to what that even means for your life. The first week with newborns period and a single newborn, a singleton or twins is kind of insane because you’re trying to get used to the transition from the hospital, to home, to a feeding schedule. You’re waking up every couple hours to feed them. You’re extremely sleep deprived. You don’t know what’s up or what’s down and so it is kind of chaos. I recommend that you get a logbook to track the feedings, so how much you’re feeding them, how long you’re feeding them for, and their sleep schedule as well as their diaper.
Are they having a wet diaper or a poopy diaper? Because in the chaos and sleep deprivation of those first couple of weeks, you don’t know. You forget which twin ate how much, which twin woke up last, which twin had a poopy diaper and all that stuff’s important to make sure that they’re getting enough food and everything’s working properly. Because when you go to those well-baby checkups, the doctor’s going to ask, “How are they eating? How are they sleeping?”
Scottly asks, “How do you manage potty training? My girls always want to have a potty, party. Should you have multiple potties in the same room or should you manage them separately?” Okay, so Scottly, when we potty-trained our twins, when the first day came to train our girls to potty train, to train them to use the potty, we did individual training. So my wife took one of the girls and kind of went through drills all day long to train her how to use the potty. When to recognize it was time to go to the potty, to celebrate her successes. I took the other twin and our two older boys and we left the house so we weren’t a distraction. The next day we flipped that. My wife trained the other daughter. I took the freshly potty-trained girl and her brother’s out of the house so that the one girl who’s at home could focus on potty training.
Now, what we had was we had one training potty that we practiced with and we started potty training in the kitchen on the linoleum floor because it’s easy clean up when there’s messes and there’s plenty of room to work and maneuver in there. Eventually, we moved that training potty into the bathroom and the big potty itself had one of those child seats. So they won’t fall in the potty. And so we had two potties, the built-in potty that was in the bathroom, the toilet, and then the training potty on the floor. And so they could use whichever one was they were most comfortable with. And if they both wanted to be at there at the same time, there was two potties that they can use and that was fine. But you didn’t see in that, they often do not fight over, which of those potties it was, they were just happy to be in there and oftentimes it was just one girl at a time that wanted to do it.
So if they want to have a potty party every time they go to the potty, then you should be fine with just the training potty and the built-in toilet that’s in the bathroom and make sure that you’re continually praising them when they are having success, when they are keeping their pants dry and you’re going to have some success there in your potty training efforts. So good luck to you, Scottly, and your family in potty training those girls.
Myra asks, “How are we going to pay for everything?” There’s lots of things you can do to pay for everything with twins, but the reality is that a few key principles would go a really long way when paying for twins. First of all, is think used. You don’t have to buy new everything for your twins, baby gear and baby clothing and stuff. People go through that stuff so quickly.
(RELATED: Still looking for the right twin gear? See my Twin Baby Gear Essentials.)
The kids outgrow it so quickly that you can get that stuff secondhand at a consignment store or maybe your local parents of multiples, consignment sale or even friends or family or on craigslist, you can get that stuff second hand at a significant discount to buying it new. So don’t think you have to buy new everything. Some things are probably best bought new like car seats because you want to make sure that those haven’t been in an accident or damaged in any way. But if you want to think used first, that will save you a lot of money and then you can turn around and sell stuff after you use it, after your kids outgrow it too, to recover some of that cost. So that’s one thing.
Number two, is think about discretionary spending. So what is optional versus what is mandatory? So you’re going to have to pay for the lights, I mean the water bill, your rent or your mortgage. But some things might be able to be cut out of the budget without feeling the huge pinch, going out to eat or maybe going to the movies once. I mean, some of those things can be sacrificed in the short-term to meet your financial needs for your twins. And then once the twins outgrow the diapers, I’ll say get passed the formula. You can add that stuff back into your lifestyle. Third thing I want you to think about of how you’re going to afford everything is think about the fact that you don’t have to always buy two of everything for your twins. Now sometimes you have to have two something. Car seats are a great example, but whenever you go to purchase something for your twins, think about, do I need to have two of these?
Do I have to have two of these things? The truth is maybe the twins can take turns. Think about a baby bath for example. You’re only going to bathe one baby at a time. You only need one baby bath. You don’t need two of those. A play set or a play mat that they may play on and sit on. They could probably share that and be fine. So look at your purchases through that lens and it’ll help you save some money because you don’t always have to buy two of everything.
So, Matt, asks, “Why are my twins only napping for 25 minutes for their first nap of the day?” Okay, Matt. Well, I don’t know how old your twins are, but I want to share something that works with our twins. And it was kind of a signal that they gave that the nap schedule we were using was not working for them.
So regardless of the age of your children, you need to talk to your pediatrician about how long they should be sleeping, how long those naps should be, how many naps they should be taking a day. Because your pediatrician best knows your twins and their development cycles and where they should be at on that spectrum. So regardless of what their nap schedule should be, one thing that we found, it caught us off guard almost every single time was we put the kids down for naps and they would just refuse to sleep. We’d fight with them for half an hour or an hour and tried to get them to take a nap and was just pull our hair out like why would they not sleep? Or like in your case, Matt, we put them down for a nap and they would wake up within 20 minutes, half an hour.
And we’re like, “That’s not a nap. That’s just like a brief rest.” And so we realized that that was them signaling to us that they were probably done with that morning nap and they’re ready to go down to just a single afternoon nap. Now again, double-check that with what the expectations should be with your pediatrician. But we found that our kids would signal that every single time whenever we felt like we were struggling and struggling and struggling to get them to do their nap for the full time. It usually ended up being that they had grown out of the nap and they’re ready for just one afternoon nap or a shorter nap. So that’s one thing to consider, Matt, in your situation about why they may not be sleeping as long as you’re expecting.
Now, let’s be honest, as parents, we want our kids to nap because that gives us a little break. We can tend to ourselves or the house or the other kids or anything. And so giving up those naps is really hard as a parent because we want that time for ourselves. And so that’s why we always fell in this trap where we were trying to get them to nap and it was a constant fight at those milestones or it was time to get rid of the nap or shorten the nap. So that’s something you may want to try, Matt, in your house.
All right, so we’ve got a great question here from Michael. “Do you ever feel like you don’t pay enough attention to one or the other because of time constraints?” Okay. So yes. Do I ever feel that way? Absolutely. I do feel that way. So one thing that I’ve had to consciously make an effort of doing is to make one on one time with each of the twins. And that may be something very formal. Like I’m going to go on a daddy-daughter lunch date or a daddy-daughter date on the evening, go out with just that one girl and help give her individual attention and have fun with her. And that’s the maybe more structured or formal where you put a date on the calendar and say we’re going to do something that like that.
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)
Other times it may be more informal like you find yourself well, just yesterday I took one of my kids out of the house and we walked around the block and then I took the next kid out of the house and walked around the block with them, just to get a chance to spend some time with them and talk with them one on one. The time constraints are a challenge. I mean you may be struggling with work demands or the demands of the home or family and so it takes a conscious plan and effort to make time for your kids. When I would come home from work, when the kids were really little, I knew that I had to just set aside work, leave it behind, focus all my attention and energy on the kids until we got then down to bed.
And then if I had to finish up work or whatever, I could do that after they were in bed. So it did take a little bit of sacrifice to make sure that family time was dedicated to family and to the kids. And that I would compartmentalize or segment out the time for work or other demands. It’s natural to feel like you don’t have time to give them individual attention or give them attention because of other time constraints. But make sure that you have your priorities in order. You want to spend time with your children, of course, with your partner. Lots of other things can kind of be reprioritized and rescheduled so that you focusing on what’s really, really important.
So, Michael, I hope that helps you out a little bit. So, Rosephine asks, “Can I know the gender of twins through symptoms?” Okay, so it looks like Rosephine is expecting. “Can you know the gender between just through the symptoms of the pregnancy?” No, not really. There are two surefire ways to tell what kind of twins you’re going to have. Boy, boy twins, girl, girl twins or one of each. And that is an ultrasound by a trained professional can identify those boy parts or girl parts and know if you’re going to have boy, girl or boy, girl, girl twins. And that takes a little while into the pregnancy before they can tell that for sure.
The other option is if you get blood work done, there’s something called noninvasive prenatal testing. It can happen about 10 weeks and they’ll do a blood draw and it’s looking at the DNA. Now if you guys remember your high school biology class, so when we talk about chromosomes, males have X, Y chromosomes and females have X, X chromosomes. So they do that blood draw on mom and they see that there are a Y chromosome in there, that didn’t come from mom. That means there’s at least one boy twin in utero. And you’ll kind of need to wait until the ultrasound to see if it’s two boys or if it’s boy, girl twins.
Now, if they do that blood draw and there are only two X chromosomes, there’s no Ys, then odds are really good that you’re going to have twin girls, so either a blood draw or an ultrasound or your best bets on determining the gender of your twins. Symptoms from the outside of mom looking, outside looking in, it’s going to be impossible. It’s just a guess, what kind of twins you’re going to have.
So thank you Rosephine for your question. Good luck with your pregnancy. I hope all goes well in those preparations for your twins and delivery. If you’d like me to answer one of your questions on an upcoming episode of the podcast, go ahead and reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram @twindadjoe or drop me an email, [email protected] and I’d be happy to answer your question on an upcoming episode of the podcast. Again, today’s show is brought to you by the free audio book version of my first book, Dad’s Guide to Twins. You can pick that up at freetwinbook.com. Once again, that’s freetwinbook.com. Thank you so much for listening and I will see you next time.
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