Episode 222 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Andy Slinger, father of identical twin boys and author of “The Super Twins”! Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:
- Raising twins as a single dad
- When twins switch personalities
- Giving individual attention to twins (when you’re by yourself)
- Helping twins transition from the same class to different ones
Connect with Andy Slinger:
Hey everybody. Welcome to the 222nd 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 the complete show notes and transcript for this episode, and all previous podcast episodes.
Today we’re chatting with children’s book author Andy Slinger who also has identical twin boys. But before we jump into the interview, I want to let you know that today’s show is brought to you by TwinTShirtCompany.com where we have dozens of T-shirts designed specifically for you, parents with twins. Head on over to TwinTShirtCompany.com.
Today I’d like to welcome to the show fellow father of twins Andy Slinger. Welcome to the show, Andy.
Thank you, nice to be here.
Tell us a little bit about your twins right now. How old are they? And what’s the craziest thing about this age?
They’re 11 years old now and soon to be 12. So I think the Just got to the stage now where they’re really starting to answer back. So the finding the real personalities, I think as they’ve grown up, they’ve jumped between different personality types, both of them, sometimes one’s the leader than the other one isn’t. And then I think they just got to the stage now that they’re really sort of settling down into who they’re going to be. And those dreaded teenage years are looming.
Yeah, I hear you my twin girls, just turned 12. So similar age to your boys. Are your boys are identical twins or fraternal?
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So it’s interesting. You mentioned the switch personalities over time. And I’ve seen that in our girls as well. Has it been that way since they were little? Or is it more recent development?
No, I think it’s always been that way. Really, you know, in terms of abilities and everything, they’ve tended to shift. I wouldn’t have expected I would have thought you know, that they kind of settle in from a young age and have their own talents. But yeah, it changed over time.
As they get older, as we become more self-sufficient, as they have stronger personalities and opinions, like you noted, it’s interesting to see how one twin reacts versus the other. So let’s rewind back to when you found out that you were having twins. What was your situation like? What was your reaction?
Absolute shock, because I wasn’t I wasn’t expecting babies at all. So to go from none to having twins was the shock of my life at the time. It probably took me sort of nine months to come around to the idea. But obviously, once they’ve arrived, it’s the best thing that could have happened to you, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. But yeah, it’s definitely shocked to find out initially.
So looking back at the pregnancy and delivery, were there any complications with your boys?
No, I would say it’s pretty smooth, natural birth, no major complications. It all went pretty well. They’re here now. So that’s all that matters and healthy and well, so yeah, no problems at all there.
So my understanding is that you are a single dad right now raising your boys.
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I am yeah. They’ve lived with me for probably seven years now. Something like that. So.
So what have been some of the challenges of raising kids by yourself?
To be honest, I’ve just taken it my stride really. I’m quite lucky that I’ve got a nice support network around me. So I don’t really see it as a challenge ever. I mean, having twins as opposed to Having two kids of different ages is a lot easier, really, because they’re best friends they’re as close as any sort of sibling could be because they spent every waking second with each other so, for me, I’ve been, you know, like a two year old and a six year olds together would be much more difficult than other twins, because they keep themselves entertained. And they are good kids, you know, I can’t fault them at all. Of course, they have their moments like all kids where you want to bang their heads together. But majority of time I don’t see any real challenge with it. Enjoy every minute, I feel blessed that I’ve got them in my life.
That’s fantastic. I know a lot of parents are concerned about maybe when they’re home alone with the twins. And so I appreciate you sharing your perspective that “Hey, even when you’re by yourself as a dad, you can still handle the twins,” particularly when as they get older, they’re able to do more things by themselves. It does make it a little easier.
I think as a parent, you can never come between that bond. They’ve always got that together. So they’re extremely close as you know yourself. But yeah, they’re fantastic you know fantastic. I’m lucky.
Have you been able to juggle maybe your work professional demands, while also taking care of the boys?
Too be honest, I just get up at the crack of dawn. And I’m up at 5am every morning, and I hold down a full time job as a retail manager, and I do my writing as well write my book. So I’m up at 5am. I start the day as I mean to go on and do some meditation, some exercise, and then get open the stuff that matters to me, you know, work on my development and my career before the guys even get off. So that’s how I’ve managed to do it. I do everything before they get up, focus then, and then as soon as they’re up, but then it’s, you know, my time to focus on them. I’m probably, in an evening, as soon as they’re in bed, about five minutes later, I’m going to bed myself.
For sure. That means for a long day if you’re up at five, but I like how you’re able to prioritize what’s important for you and getting your own time in the morning before the craziness of the day starts.
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Yeah, and it works for me. I never thought that I would be the type of person to get that time in the morning. I was always a night owl. I think shifting my timeline to an earlier start is what was in my career in my life. Definitely done that in a bit of magic for me.
So looking at your Instagram, it looks like you enjoy traveling with your boys.
Yeah, absolutely, we just try and get away as much as we can. I’ve got to make sure that every week I have off work is you know, something special, and try and take them as many places as I can. I work on the principle that if I can get them to do one new thing, every week, as soon as my days off from work, I’ll try and take them somewhere exciting to my new teach something new. And then we’ll have weeks off work or go away as much as we can. I think it’s really important for them to, to see the world. Even if it’s, you know, an hour down the road, it doesn’t matter. It’s just getting them out and experiencing the big wide world and showing them there’s more to life. Especially, you know, when we’re in situations where we would stay home for so long, it’s fantastic to be able to getaway.
Oh, absolutely. Especially enjoy the beauties of outdoors in nature and exploring new places. Do your boys have different preferences and where you like to travel or activities you’d like to do?
They’re just open for anything really, they like surprises. So I always try and surprise them as much as I can. If I tell them to go somewhere special, they jump in the car and we’ll just set off–they don’t know where they’re going but they always know it’s going to make a time, So they’re just happy to be doing something with me, I think.
That’s great, that you set aside time to do that. Are they in the same classes at school? Or are they separated?
Well, they have been in the same classes all the way growing up, and they’re actually going to secondary school this time. So they make the jump to a big school, and they’ve been split up for the first time. So I’m yet to find out what that’s going to be like, I think it’s probably a good thing for them. Yeah, I think they’re probably a little apprehensive because they’ve been in every single class that they’ve ever been in together and sat next to each other. So it’ll be a bit of a shock to the system. But I said to them, if they go there, if they both get groups of friends in the classes, then they’re gonna have double the amount of friends of everyone else. So I think that that did the trick to persuade them.
That is a good persuasion technique. Did you have a choice? Or is it not really a choice and keeping them together once they get in, at a secondary school?
No, I think that that was just, you know, the school’s decision and they’ve obviously dealt with twins before. So you know, there’ll be a reasoning behind that. I think, you know, I suppose it’s good for their development, they’re not as reliant on each other, and, you know, help them a bit to meet, you know, new kids and stuff. Really, I suppose.
So up to this point, have they had the same circles of friends? Or have they had different friends?
Yeah, they’ve always had the same circles of friends. Yeah, always.
So when it comes time for birthday parties, how do you handle those with your boys?
I think as they’ve got older, the circle of friends has got smaller, I think, you know, when they were younger, it was like the whole class would turn up. So you’d have like 30 screaming kids running around. As they get older, you tend to sort of bring it down. So you know, two or three really good friends and there’s something a bit more special with them that way. I think when they were about eight or nine, we had 20/30 Kids turn up at the play center and it was just wild. You don’t like telling off other people’s kids when they’re kicking and punching each other do this but you know, it’s hard work when it gets like that.
It is how do you help your boys feel individually appreciated or give them individual attention?
I think that’s quite a difficult one really, you’ve got to, I think sometimes they need to be split up, you know, I think especially with homeschooling, it’s, it’s, it’s been a lot easier for me to sort of Teach them on an individual basis, because there was competing with each other otherwise. So it’s, it’s nice to get them by themselves and really just positive affirmations all time just to try and bring what you can out of them. They’ve got the individual talents, and you’ve just got to really sort of celebrating that with them. I find the more you do have that, that the greater they respond to it. So that’s, that’s pretty much what I want to try to do. Not always successful, but you know, you tried anyway.
That’s right, we try again, like how you mentioned positive affirmations. Oftentimes, we may get bogged down as parents with what our child is doing wrong or incorrectly and focus on that instead of focusing on the good things that are doing, like good behavior
And I think, as well, if kids do get something wrong, it’s sometimes important to celebrate that, you know, if they do get something wrong, then that’s a good thing because if they’ve got it wrong, then they’re going to better next time and we’re going to it the right way, you know, you could switch the whole thing on its head and celebrate it when they get things wrong. Because, you know, they’re learning from that, if they got everything right all the time they’d never, you know, they’d never know how to deal with it when they got things wrong. So I think you’ve got to look at it both ways.
That’s so true. I mean, the home should be a place where our children should be able to have those learning opportunities, where they, you know, they make a mistake, or, or what have you, and we as fathers can then help coach them along that journey. You mentioned at the beginning of our conversation that your boys are entering a phase where they’re starting to maybe talk back or pushing back on you as a dad, what have you found to work in helping to manage that as they go into these teenage years?
So I think you’ve got to kind of sit back and look at yourself, I think of the pushing back then you’re not approaching things in the right way. You’re not truly listening deep enough to what they’re asking of you. You know, so I think it’s quite easy to say it’s down to them. But I think me as a person, I’m going to look at myself and say right, why are they acting that way? Well, what is it I’ve done that has made them push back in that way. And sometimes the reason is not as clear as you think it is. It’s you know, exploring that and just talking with them, trying to get on that deeper sense of listening with your kids. It’s difficult to do. But if you get it right, then I think that there is a way of pushing back You can’t just completely say, Alright, it’s just because they’re becoming a teenager, they’re going to start acting this way. I think. You’ve got to say, you know, there’s got to be a reason behind the emotions behind that and you’ve got to try your best to figure out what it is and how you can help.
That’s true. If you can figure out the why behind something it does help you guide them in the right direction or change your point of view, guide the conversation for sure. Let’s talk about chores in the house. How do you involve your boys and who gets what chore between the two of them?
I try, and sort of rotate it as much as possible. They always seem to know that the other twin has put the knives and forks and set the table out before, the previous time. So they always know which chore it is. Or they try and convince me that way. So I try and rotate around as much as I can and give them different bits and bobs. They will try and pass it off on the other one. So it’s, it’s just about an involving them as much as you can really give them a broad spectrum of jobs to do. And if they’re doing alongside me, it tends to be more enjoyable for them. If they say that, you know, we’re all getting involved and doing it together as a team effort. So that tends to work.
Yes, we’ve seen that too. It’s when mom or dad are working alongside with the kids. It makes it easier for the kids to do the same job I’ve seen. I’ve seen that in our home as well. Well, Andy, you’ve also just released a new book for children called The Super Twins. First of all, for what age group is this book written?
I’d say seven, eight to 12 something like so like a middle grade, sort of preteen book, I would say.
And what led you to want to write this book in the first place.
I think I just went through a period of self-reflection last year, you know, thinking, what do I really want to do with my life? And what am I good at? And what can I make money out of that I enjoy doing rather than doing a job as an ends to a means, I mean, I enjoy my job, but do I love it and have that passion for it like I do, with writing, probably not. So, you know, it was probably this time last year, I sat down and thought, right, I’m gonna write a book. And what’s closest to me is my boys, the twins, the real life super twins. So, you know, I took them as my inspiration and just started writing a few hundred words a day. And before you know, it just, it started to develop and develop. It was you know, initially it was completely based on my lads. It was just all about them. But then as time progressed, I didn’t want the characters to be, you know, a reflection of them. As a fictional book, I wanted it to be something new and unique. So it’s just developed into a completely different story. And yeah, I’ve just released on pre-order on Amazon now. And it goes, it’s live for, you know, for pre-orders, and it’s live on sale on the fourth of September.
Excellent. Congratulations on launching that book. How are your boys involved in the writing or production of the book?
They’ve given me so many ideas. If I’m ever stuck on something to write, or what superpower so actually include or anything like that they’re the first to come up with ideas. So I use them as a sounding board to me, and I’ve given them little excerpts for them to read and see what they think. And you know what kids are like, they give real and honest feedback every time. If they don’t like it they’ll say, “Dad, that’s awful. You need to redo that,” or “Ah, I love that bit.” So yeah, they’ve been great. They’ve been great from that, and they’ve really embraced it. they’ve enjoyed the whole thing and you know, can’t wait to read it themselves. It might be a bit mean that I’m leaving it to launch day to give them a copy, but, I think if everyone’s waiting, they’re gonna have to wait to.
Good things come to those who wait. Right?
So Andy, as we wrap up today, if folks want to get a hold of you or reach out, what’s the best way to contact you?
If you go to my website, which is ‘www.twindad.uk’ And you can find everything you need to on there. If you want to send me an email, my email addresses there. There’s links to Facebook, my facebook account, my Instagram account, my Twitter account, but yeah, the main thing, just go to the website, and there’s links to everything on there. So that’s www.twindad.uk.
Excellent. And I’ll link others in the show notes. So listeners you can talk to Andy or pre-order his book as well. Again, his book is “The Super Twins.” Thank you so much for spending time with us today, Andy, we really appreciate it.
No problem. My pleasure, lovely to speak to you.
I hope you enjoyed that chat with Andy about his journey as a twin father and about being in the middle in the trenches with tweens going on teenage twin boys.
If you want to reach out to Andy or check out his new book, I’ll link all those in the show notes at twindadpodcast.com. Again today’s show is brought to you by my website, twintshirtcompany.com where you can find dozens of T-shirts designed specifically for you, Father of twins. Again that is twintshirtcompany.com.
If you’d like to share your twin story on the podcast, please reach out to me. You can reach me on Instagram or Twitter @twindadjoe, or email me [email protected] and I would love to hear from you. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.
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