Episode 232 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Aaron Woland, father of twin girls. Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:
- Having twins in a second marriage
- Benefits of getting a night nurse for the infant twins
- Getting teenagers involved with infant twins
- How much to involve older children without overburdening them
- The decision to get a nanny
- Traveling for work and staying connected with the children
- Challenges of transitioning to preschool in person and virtual
- Having one twin that is more focused than the other
- Benefits of having two children at once instead of just one
- Giving each twin opportunities to develop their talents
- Praising each child’s milestones without comparing them
- and more…
Connect with Aaron on Twitter
Imagine having a 12-year gap between your older children and then finding out you’re having twins. discuss this and so much more on the episode today.
Welcome to the Dads Guide to Twins podcast the podcast that will help you survive and thrive as a father of twins Now, here’s your host, the author of the book, “The Dads Guide to Twins”, Joe Rawlinson.
Hey everybody and welcome to the 232nd 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 can listen to all previous podcast episodes.
Today we are continuing our father of twins interview series with fellow father of twins Aaron Woland. Before we jump into that, I want to let you know that today’s show is brought to you by twintshirtcompany.com where you’ll find dozens of t-shirts designed specifically for us parents with twins. Check out those unique designs today at twintshirtcompany.com. Today I would like to welcome to the show fellow father twins Aaron Woland, welcome to the show, Aaron.
Thanks. Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.
Aaron, how old are twins right now.
They are four years old now, fraternal twin girls.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
And tell us about when you’ve told your family situation like when you found out that you were going to be having twins.
I have four girls. I had from my first marriage. My as I like to call it my practice marriage. I had older girls, so they are now 22 and 16. So at the time my twins were born they were 18 and 12. So big age gap between them. And they were the twins were not a surprise Oh, it was a surprise to have twins. But my wife and I were we’re trying to expand our family. I was a single dad raising two girls and my, my, my wife and I were raising them together after she joined me. And she’s been with them since our teenager was about, about six years old. So, you know, she’s been with raising, raising them for about the last 10 years. And we knew we wanted to have children again, we didn’t know we were gonna have twins, but we wanted to have children again. And so we already had two girls. And then we found out we were gonna have twins. And I just about fell over when I heard that and immediately started researching everything I could about having twins, which is actually how I came upon your book.
That’s excellent. So you got you had a few older girls at the time. What was their reaction to finding out that they would be older sisters to twins?
All of my girls actually have pretty interesting personalities. They are very, and I’ll say they’re intelligent. And each one is very unique. And immediately I got like a, I would say joy and dread at the same moment. Like oh my goodness, what are you going to do? How are you going to handle two of them at once? And so they were overly excited that they’re going to be big sisters again, at the same time being like, oh, man, how are we going to handle two once? Which was was kind of, I don’t know how to. I don’t know, it made me laugh at the same time. I’m like, man, I I don’t know if I’m happy with your response or not. Like, Hey, I’m gonna lean on you for some help. No, no, but they were I think more excited than they were dreading it but also there was a lot of Haha, you’ve got a lot of work on your hands. Yeah, so they but they’re, they’re terrific. I mean, my if you my oldest one doesn’t live with me. She actually lives about 30 minutes from me and if you actually ever go to her her apartment as because she’s in college, like her walls are plastered with pictures of her little sisters. So they just they they adore them. So it’s it’s been wonderful. Actually.
You mentioned your your older girls were kind of joking about work to do. How were your older kids able to be involved with this intense?
It’s kind of fun my wife Suzanne and I we actually kind of had to prevent them from getting a little too involved. A little too early on as well, it’s kind of like a reminding my middle I call her my middle child. So my teenager that, you know, like, Look, you’re still a kid on your own, you need to still be a kid like back off. and let go not let her do too much. And so she’s so that they, I’ve heard a lot of heard a lot of other podcasts that you’ve done where other fathers and other parents I should say, have really involved a lot of the older children and and I think one of the things that we would didn’t want to do was, we didn’t want to make my older kids feel like they were being burdened with too much responsibility of the younger siblings too soon. Or like that, that they weren’t there that they were losing any part of their own childhood, I guess. So we really had to say, No, no, no, don’t, don’t help us here, we got this or just just focus on you being a kid, don’t try to stop being a kid too soon. And we might have might have overdone that a little bit. And some of that could be because where we also balance the fact that you know, they have a birth mom elsewhere that has no other children, you know, and you maybe we overplayed that hand a little too much of wanting to remind them that they need to be a child and, you know, not wanting to not wanting to give my my ex like a card to play of, you know, your father is putting too much on you. You need to come over here or anything like that. I don’t know. Maybe eventually we started to say, you know, I think we’re doing a little too, too much of that. Absolutely. Come help us out a little bit. I still don’t think my my teenager has ever changed a diaper, though. Not that she ever wanted to. But I don’t think we’ve ever asked her to do it.
So what were some things that they were able to help with?
It we definitely had Naya my middle especially be like, Hey, can you keep an eye on the on the twins, while we, you know, are doing these other other things over here, or we both work. And we did not put them in daycare, but we did do is have a nanny. And if ever the nanny. There are lots of reasons for that. And I can come come back to that in a little bit. But if ever the nanny was out sick or something, and we were like, hey, Naya, can you can you help us? Well, we both are stuck in a meeting right now. Can you come watch them play with them for the next, you know, hour and a half? Or we’re both stuck? and can’t get out of these meetings? Or, you know, can you help us with? Go get your sister’s dress for us real quick while we’re doing this over here, or basically, she just loves to play with her sister. So we never really had to ask her to do anything. She always just wanted to do it anyway, a lot of times, we have to be like, stop trying to parent them. We’re right here. Don’t tell them to go do this. We’re right here. Just remember mom. And you know, we’re right here. You know, the twins have parents and they’re standing next to them stop trying to tell them what to do. It’s been more of that than actually having to ask her to do things.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
So you mentioned you mentioned getting a nanny. So what led to that decision? And how were you able to find someone you were comfortable with?
The decision was, it started off a little bit of a financial decision and a little bit of more of like a comfort decision as well. Financially, in the beginning, the cost of daycare for two children, kind of, especially in the early days was roughly more than the cost of a nanny for the especially in newborn status. And then, then it obviously I believe it comes down obviously after the first. You know, by the time the kids are six months old, I believe daycare becomes a lot cheaper, the comfort of having the twins stay in the house and not necessarily pick up every every sickness that may run through a daycare made up may lead Susie and I feel a lot more comfortable. And we felt that having someone that could just focus on them in our house. Just focus on them and just work with them and and give them full attention kind of felt really worth it to us that it was worth the additional money or you know, keeping that cost where it was over the long run. We just really liked the idea of them having that and staying in the house. So we ended up just keeping them in that route right up until, I mean we still actually still have nanny right now. The same nanny that they’ve had since birth is still with them now and actually takes them there and half day preschool. So they go, it was three days a week. And it’s now for this, from, from this January until the summer, it is five days a week, half days. The Nanny will drive them in the mornings, using our, our vehicle, drops them off, and picks them up at one o’clock and then brings, brings them back to our house and then plays with them until five o’clock. And then and then I work from home, my wife works from home, thanks to COVID-19. And we will take over from there.
So were you working from home before the pandemic?
I work from home when I don’t travel. And I haven’t traveled since I was literally in New Zealand. When this when basically my company said no more travel. And I actually had to I had I was in New Zealand had to fly back into the US and in April and haven’t left since. So I work from home anytime I wasn’t traveling around the country, I travel around, I’m in computer security for a living. And I travel, you know, travel probably 25 to 30% of my time, or at least I used to. And I haven’t left my house basically since April of 2020.
Back when you were traveling a lot for work, How were you able to stay connected with your kids from a distance?
Hey, we do a lot of FaceTime. So, the good news is, is when I wasn’t traveling, I usually only traveled for about a week at a time. And whenever I wasn’t traveling, I did work from home, which is which is great when I do travel though, was definitely we would we would FaceTime almost every day. If I was traveling around the world, like literally the other side of the world to be in Australia and New Zealand, least once a year. And those those big trips were usually for around two weeks. Then those are the more difficult time zones. And so but we would always try to do a little bit of FaceTime about every day my children my twins don’t really understand a regular phone call. They always think that they can see someone whenever, whenever they video conference my parents live about three minutes away. And they they actually retired and built a house around the corner from us when the twins were being born. My my wife’s mother now lives in New York, we live in North Carolina. So they FaceTime with their their grandmother, their maternal grandmother all the time, every single day. So they’re used to that at least. And so they do a lot of FaceTime communication that way, whenever we’re not here they do like being able to at least see Maddie in particular who’s my, she would be baby a. She’s she loves to say I want to see your face. So if she ever hears just my voice that she always likes to say that I want to see your face.
So you mentioned that your girls had just recently started preschool? How is that transition for them from being a home? To me outside of home? And what were the challenges of that?
The last semester, I guess, you know, so from the fall until now, they weren’t doing a virtual preschools, they did a half a day, physical last year, three days a week. And it was they loved it. And so when this when, when COVID-19 struck and they cancelled that program and they had to do it virtually. So for you know, the last few months, they had been doing this at the kitchen table on an iPad. And you know, you know, my wife and I and the nanny even would say, Okay, let’s get them started, get them at the iPad, we’d have to bring the arts and crafts to the table and they would do whatever they needed to do with their class and and they they reinstated the in person program starting You know, this month in January. which has been honestly just a godsend for them because they really craved that interaction. They had always done the in person for the full day preschool just not the half day preschool. So once they figured out the logistics of how to get the half day program started up again. Right, we were able to bring them back which was this January, which has just been terrific for them that again, they just started up again. They’ve coming home and Just how is your day and they just all smiles and they’re loving it, we get pictures of them all throughout the day, and they are just ecstatic about it.
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And the two of them could not be more different Nattie and Cassie, Cassie, just especially just thrives with all of that interaction with the other children and with the teacher. And you could tell that the the online, the online was just not working well, for Cassie. Even more so than that Nattie just couldn’t keep her attention. She was just running around the kitchen, like like a mad person. And just, you know, just you couldn’t keep her at the screen and really just keep her focused on whatever the activity was.
She seems to be doing much, much, much better at this point, going into a classroom with this, you know, the teacher and the teacher’s assistant, and having the the other students that are all doing the same activities, right that in there. Nattie did a little bit better with being able to keep her focus. I don’t want to say it was perfect, because it certainly wasn’t she also would just get it, especially when she sees her sister doing it, but just get up and start running around the kitchen also. But she would do a little bit better with sometimes keeping her focus and performing an activity, but they do definitely seem to be thriving a lot more with an in person, you know, in a classroom, physical activity versus a virtual learning type of activity
Have they been in the same class?
Yeah, so far, we looked into both. And the school actually recommended that we keep them in the same classroom, because they’ve they’ve experienced both as well. And we asked them and they said that they’ve that they’ve, it’s their experiences that the twins will do better being in the same classroom. So so far, they’ve only and it’s been just two years now, and this is just the second year. And they’ve they’ve always been in the same room together. I’ve heard both obviously, from listening to your podcast and, and reading I’ve heard both.
And I’m sure at some point, we’ll try putting them into different classes, especially one of my twins seems to be a little more artistic. And one of them seems to be a little more scholarly. And I think that they may end up in different classes as they progress through their, their school careers. But I think for now that I think they’re they’re doing better having each other, they’ve always had each other for everything. I was once dreading. What am I, what on earth am I going to do with twins, right? And my wife, my wife makes fun of me because, you know, me having been a parent before, you know, I had children young. My wife never had, you know, my wife was single, right up until, you know, she she had instant family when she, you know, got in a relationship with me. And so, you know, she was looking at me to be the reassuring one and to say, you know, it’s okay, we got this.
And one day when she was pregnant with twins and video, and she was looking for me to be the reassuring one, I looked at her and she was like, how are we going to do this? I’m nervous. And I looked at her and I’m like, I’m nervous too. And that was apparently the wrong response. When the two of them have had each other, you know, since and we’ve always had them in the same room, and we’ve, we even co slept them in the same crib, until, until they started just really bumping into each other and then we tried putting them in separate cribs and we’ve always had two cribs, then they would we try putting them in separate toddler beds, and we watched them on the camera and one of them would get out of their bed and go into the other’s bed. Right. And then it was only about on their fourth birthday, we said you’re going to have to sleep in your own bed now. And we prep them for that and they finally sleep in separate beds again. But they’ve always had each other and it’s so much fun to watch that interaction and watch how much that development is so much different than my singleton’s right and in many ways it was easier having two than having just one and I’ve heard many other fathers say the same thing on your podcasts and and from you know, reading other things online. Some things are definitely much more difficult, you know, when they’re not feeling well or when they’re more physically demanding of trying to you know, feed the two of them at this exact same moments or something. But some things are so much easier because they have each other to keep each other busy. Right?
They always have each other as a playmate. But, you know, like I have one of the fun things about being a twin that is that you end up finding all these other twin parents out there, and hearing all of their other experiences. And one of my co workers who has fraternal twin boys did not have this experience, his fraternal twin boys do nothing but fight. And he was when he found out I was gonna have twins, he just laughed at me. And he’s like, oh, man, you’re in for it. You know, if its anything like my twins, man it’s so much work. And it’s just, it’s a it’s a disaster. And I’m thinking like, oh, gosh, what am I gonna do? What am I gonna do, and my experience has been the opposite. They, they fight match, I mean, man, do they fight sometimes over who’s gonna sit next to mommy, or who’s gonna sit next to daddy, or whose turn it is to play with, I don’t know, a dog, or if we don’t have to have the exact same outfit, and they both want to wear the exact thing out the exact same outfit that day or, or something like that, there’s definitely a fight here or there.
But the majority of the time, they just have to play. Right, they always have each other there to always have each other to play with. And they, they just, you know, when when you have just one at a time, you don’t have that. Right. So you know, it means that either you or your spouse is the one that has to be there to, you have to be there to play with them or keep them entertained or find something to entertain them. Whereas when you have two at once they entertain each other. And that’s been that’s been eye opening to where I thought it was going to be so much more difficult than having one at a time, you know?
Watching them interact with each other like both you and our family situation. We had a couple kids before twins. So you can kind of compare and contrast what that experience is like, it’s fun to see them play off of each other and their different personalities. You mentioned that one of your girls leans may be more artistic than a more of a scholar. You said, are you how are you able to give them a unique experiences to help developers individual talents?
I don’t know that we can give them I don’t know that we really can give them something unique in that. Because they always want to do the same thing that the other one is doing. No matter what we try to make a big deal out of both of their accomplishments. Well, honestly, so Nattie was baby a. And she she was the you know, obviously was the first one born she was just blocking the she’s blocking the birth canal. Right. She She was breached, which did cause my wife to have to have a C section and she made it to 38 weeks no complications. We were high risk, double high risk and a because of our age and B because of the twins. So we had amazing care, all right, being double high risk they they had us in for appointments all the time, we got lots of extra sonograms and you know and got to see the twins constantly. But she, she made it to 38 weeks without any complications. We had to schedule the C section.
And, you know, so the only reason we had to go c section I believe is because of the breach. So Nattie she was the first one born by one minute, and that was the last time she was first to do anything. Right. Cassie has been the first to crawl the first the turnover. The first to walk the first run the first swing herself on the swings. Natty is taller by two inches pretty much since birth. You know, one’s brunette one’s blondes and Natty is brunette and Cassie is blonde. You know, they’re they’re very different in so many ways.
But Cassie just I think she she just has to be first at everything. She’s the first to like write letters and read sight words. And and so when when Cassie will will write dad you know d a d, you know and you’ll just say oh, that’s amazing. Like look at that letters as they’re fantastic and then Natty will do something similar and you make a big deal out of both, obviously because you don’t ever want Natty to feel like just Because she didn’t develop exactly the same time, Cassie did, that there’s anything wrong with what natty did. But at the same time, there’s so many things that nattie will do, that Cassie isn’t doing in the same way that I think are just wonderful, like, you know, giant hearted, like sweet things that are just different than what Cassie does, it doesn’t make one better than the other, it’s just very different.
That’s a great point is we have we have a tendency to want to compare them because they came together and they’re always together. I think your point is, is a great reminder to dads that you can praise each child’s individual accomplishments and their individual growth without having to compare them one to the other. Because that can harbor some animosity between them.
So Aaron, how have you been able to keep your relationship with your wife strong through the ups and downs of having twins?
We actually were trying to get out at least once a week, we hired a babysitter that my twins loved. And people said, why didn’t we use my teenager to babysit. And that’s because that’s because she’s their sister. So we would hire a babysitter, and we would go on one date a week. And, and that was not easy, especially for my wife a little easier for me. I think I think because I’ve been doing I’ve been a parent for 22 years. And so it’s a lot easier for me than it was for my wife, especially at first to be able to say, we deserve this, let’s go to dinner in a movie. We were movie fanatics, we just absolutely we love, we loved going to the movie theater. That obviously has stopped like all the movie theaters have closed up, right, we don’t really get a chance to do that. So what we do try to do though, is still at this point is we we get the kids to bed. They’re four and we still rock them to sleep. We every other night we alternate. So like last night, I rock them to sleep tonight, my wife will rock them to sleep, we get them in their beds. And we’ll we’ll sit down and we will watch a show together, right. And just trying to do something that’s just us.
Something my parents have been married for 50 years told me which is, you know, someday your kids are gonna grow up, move out. And this is going to be just the two of you. And you got to always remember that before the kids came along, they were used to and after the kids go away, they’re still going to be used to and you’ve always got to invest in that relationship. And something that I always tried to do with my wife. And some sometimes, you know, sometimes we got to work at it. Some days, sometimes it comes really, really easy. But that’s what we’ve been trying to do since this since this craziness started is let’s just try to have a date at home. Or try and do something that’s just us too. But it’s it’s still still work even here just stuck in a house with each other. And that’s even though we like eachother some days, it’s easier to like each other than than others.
Right? I think it’s there’s some some wisdom in there, making sure you set aside time to be together even if it’s something simple. It’s just you’re still stuck at home, but you’re still spending time together. all the possible getting out of the house away from the kids. That’s great advice.
The other thing is since we both work from home is I have a I work out of my office and she works out of her office in the house. And we try not to be on top of each other all day long. That makes it a little easier to do. I think if we were stuck in the same room all day long with each other all day, it would probably be worse.
Right? healthy, yeah. Spaces healthy as well. That’s for sure. So Aaron, as we wrap up today, if listeners would like to get a hold of you, what’s the best way to get in touch?
You probably you’d follow me on Twitter, I guess @AaronWoland. I’m in tech. I’m not an expert on parenting, but I’m in technology. And that’s why I’m on Twitter.
Well Aaron, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. We really appreciate it.
Oh well. I do have one more piece of advice that I will tell any new twin parents, my mother in law and I will give her full credit for this. She told me when the twins were going to be born that we had to hire a Night Nurse. And I laughed at her and I said look, I’ve been a parent for a long time. I don’t need a Night Nurse. Like we’ll be fine. She said Look, my daughter is going to have a C section. You’re definitely going to have a night nurse to take care of her and a twins so that, you know you guys will stay sane.
I will tell you that was the best money I ever spent in my life. We had a nurse that came in and helped us not only with the twins, but also with my wife to make sure my wife was taken care of that the two of us got some sleep. But also even though I had, you know, changed a million diapers or so I thought my life one of the things that this Night Nurse did was help us organize like the the nursery, help us understand like, here’s how you’re going to change the diapers for twins. Here’s how you’re going to organize yourself for twins, here’s how you’re going to just made us extremely comfortable. And I couldn’t, I can’t tell you what a relief it was, or how nervous I actually was when I brought the twins home. as comfortable as I thought I was going to be having done this before, you know. And so I actually found out that I really was nervous. And it was actually a real relief, having a night nurse that actually came in and really set us both at ease and really made things a lot better for us.
And how long did you keep the night nurse?
I think she came, it was one week. We kept her every night for the first week.
That’s a good way to get started. Establish good routines and know what you’re doing.
Yeah, it was fantastic. I’ll tell you we would have kept her every night for like the first five years if we could have afforded it because no, no, the one week was fantastic. My mother in law helped pay for a couple of days as a gift. We paid for a few days ourselves, my parents chipped into I mean it was but it was a it was a fantastic, fantastic way to really just set our minds at ease. After we came home with the twins, and especially with the C section and my wife healing and everything it was it was really really, really wonderful to have that. It was four years ago and we still talk about how wonderful it was.
Okay, I hope you enjoy the chat with Aaron about his journey as a twin dad. Again, you can check out the show notes for this episode at twindadpodcast.com and listen to all previous podcast episodes.
Today’s show is brought to you by Twin T-Shirt Company. We’ll find perfect gifts for your favorite twin dad, twin mom grandparents are twins and the twins themselves. You can see all the shirts out twintshirtcompany.com
If you’d like to share your story like Aaron did today, please reach out to me email [email protected] or on Instagram and Twitter @twindadjoe and I would love to hear from you. Thank you so much and hope you have a wonderful day.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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