Episode 250 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes
Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Randy Morton, father of 9 year old boy/girl twins. Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:
- Getting twins to sleep early on
- Separating the twins in school
- Getting divorced when the twins were young
- Hobbies and interests similarities and differences between twins
- Challenges of not seeing kids during the week
- Grandparent involvement with twins
- Finding babysitters for the twins
- Overcoming reading challenges and behavior problems
- Getting out with the twins to parks or the beach
- Managing screen time with the kids
- and more…
Connect with Randy via email.
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Today on the show we’re talking with a divorced father of boy/girl twins about what he’s learned along the way through his twin parenting adventure.
Welcome to the Dad’s 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 “Dad’s Guide to Twins”, Joe Rawlinson.
Hey everybody and welcome to the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. As always you can find me on the web at twin dad podcast comm where you’ll find the complete transcript for this episode. And you can listen to all previous podcast episodes. In fact if you have binge listened to a bunch of the podcasts I would love to hear about it you can reach out to me via email Joe at dads guided twins calm I’m also on Instagram and Twitter @twindadjoe. Today’s show is brought to you by twintshirtcompany.com where you’ll find dozens of T shirts designed specifically for families of twins. We’ve got lots of shirts for dads are twins, moms of twins, the grandparents and the twins themselves. Check out all those designs at twin t shirt company.com. Today we are continuing our father of twins interview series with a father of eight and a half year old boy girl twins. Let’s jump right into that chat. today. We’d like to welcome to the show, father of twins Randy Morton, welcome to the show, Randy.
Thank you, Joe. And welcome, everyone.
So Randy, how old are your twins right now? And what’s the most exciting thing about this age?
They’re eight and a half have boy and girl twins. And the exciting part now i guess is just seeing them grow up as they get older from being infants and just the different quirks that they have and how they get along as well. So
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I suppose they’re in school right now? Are they in person school or doing remote learning?
They were in person. And then when the cases spiked the school went back to virtual, but they’re actually getting ready to go back next week for in person.
How have you been able to manage having them learn from home, or having them learn at school has has been juggling with your family?
It’s been a little difficult. I am divorced. So they actually live with the mother. So she deals with mostly the school aspect part of it as far as the virtual learning. And then I get them every other weekend. So I I’ve done some of the virtual schooling on Fridays, when I usually pick them up.
How long ago did you get divorced?
It’s been four years now.
So let’s rewind back to when you found out that you would be having twins. What was your family situation like at that time?
I was married, of course, we had been trying for several years to have kids. And unfortunately nothing was working out. We actually did lose a baby at one point early on in the pregnancy. And then we ended up going the IVF route after her trying it why that wasn’t working with the shots. So then we did IVF we put two eggs in thinking, well, if one didn’t take at least we’d still have a good one. And they both took so yeah, we ended up with twins.
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So it wasn’t a complete shock. As you know, that was a possibility.
Yes. And actually, it’s an interesting because my ex wife, twins run on her side of the family. So of course it skips every other generation and her mom, her mom’s mom was a twin. So obviously it skipped her mom and the possibility of my ex having twins or her sister having twins. We always knew that was in the back of our mind as well.
Were there any complications with the pregnancy or the birth of your twins?
Um, no, thankfully, there wasn’t. No,
that’s wonderful. So looking back in those early days with twins, what kind of surprised you the most about having two babies at once?
Well, the initial process I mean, with the whole IVF aspect of it was just crazy and mind blowing, I guess you can say as far as seeing what they’re able to do that just take the eggs and then basically preserved them. And then they showed us like which ones took because they had several obviously. And then they showed us which ones they were going to put in and yeah, it’s just really incredible the whole process of what they’re able to do.
Yeah, modern medicine and science is just just amazing. I mean, you mentioned that your wife, your ex wife had a history of twins, but ended up you were leveraged leveraging modern science to make that happen anyway. So yeah, it’s amazing things that we can do. I talked to lots of parents of twins. And just like y’all, there’s more and more assistance going on. And that’s increasing the number of twins, which is it’s pretty amazing because people who would not have otherwise been able to have children are able to have them and the more twins the merrier. So when you brought the twins home, what were some of your memories about that first year, what were some of the big challenges that you had there?
Well, the biggest challenge, I guess, had to do with obviously trying to figure out a sleep schedule and feeding and all that, thankfully, I was able to get more time off at work because of the job I was at the time. And she was as well as we were obviously able to both be at home and in the beginning stages. And as far as the sleeping aspect of it, we had read horror stories that basically some people would put the one baby in the master bedroom with the parents, and then they cut the other baby in the baby’s room. And we knew right off the bat that we didn’t want to do it that way. So we had two separate cribs that we had in the same room. And we just had them sleeping together, basically, from day one. And it worked out great. don’t recall any issues as far as them going to sleep. I mean, knock on wood, I guess we got kind of lucky. But yeah, as far as the sleeping aspect, I mean, other than waking them up, obviously the feed them in the middle of the night or change them or something like that. We got pretty lucky with that.
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We found if we could get them in a good schedule, a good routine. Usually that kept things moving forward and the way we liked. Course, kids would always have points of regression where they fall back on not sleeping regularly or what have you. But if you if you start a habit and try to keep that that, then it makes things go a lot more smoothly.
Yeah, and I think that was a trick, because we had a nap schedule too. So we always had like pretty much the same time that we put them down for nap. So that’s where I think it was good to have a schedule and definitely stick to that as much as we could.
Or one of them. Were you or your ex wife able to stay home with them. Are you did you need to find daycare for them early on?
We were able to stay home in the beginning for a couple months. And then yeah, we did go the daycare route said they did have the experience of daycare. Yes.
When it came time to go to like preschool or school? How did you manage keeping your twins within the same class? Or were they separate? How did that work out?
Yeah, they’ve always been separated even from when they were little when we did the daycare. Yeah, they were always I mean, the daycare they they were sometimes together. But then yeah, once they got to the preschool level, and now being an elementary school, they’ve always been separated as far as that goes, because we just knew that was the best route to go as far as I’m not being together.
we’ve had our our girls together and separate. And I mean, right now they’re, they’re middle school age, so that they have their own schedules and stuff right now. But when they were younger, it was a little more of a big bigger deal if they were together or not. So I know from having multiple kids in the same grade that you’re dealing with, maybe the same teachers or different teachers are some same, some homeworks. The same someone was not the same. Did you have any challenges with with keeping track of who was doing what?
Yeah, I mean, it’s a little tricky. They don’t share any of the same teachers, except for some of the the extra classes that they have beyond like your normal history or math classes. But for the most part, yeah, they do have different teachers. As far as like homework wise, or test wise, they have had some of that has been the same. But of course, with the virtual learning, it’s a little difficult doing tests and stuff, as opposed to being in the actual classroom. But I mean, we’ve managed to get through like I said, they they’re with the mom, for the most part for the learning, but I have experienced some of it and things get a little tricky. But we’ve persevered, I guess you can say and gone through it
How about any hobbies or interests, or they’ve been very similar between the two of them are very different?
No, and they’ve actually changed what they want to do. My son prior to COVID, he had played soccer for one season, and now he’s no longer really interested in doing that. He’s expressed interest in doing basketball. But of course, that season is now already pretty much done. So we have to wait until next year for that. But now he’s actually mentioned how he wants to take piano lessons because he always comes over to my parents house when they’re visiting and he always sits down at the piano and just starts playing around with that. So it’s kind of interesting how he has grown in interest in that. My daughter she has been taking dance lessons for the past I want to say two or three years, maybe now she has been doing that. And now she also wants to do gymnastics. So that’s something we’re looking into, as well as swim lessons for both of them.
Our kids have been somewhere where they’ve had interest for a while. And then that wanes and they want to try something else. A lot of the same activities you’ve mentioned. So it came time where the relationship with you and your ex was not working was not working anymore. It’s time for divorce. Can we talk a little bit about how you manage that with the twins? What was their reaction?
Sure. I mean, they were young, obviously, at the time, they were between the three and a four year old mark, basically, when that all happened, so you can imagine they didn’t really understand what was going on. And to this day, we haven’t really set that set them down necessarily, and like explained it to them, but they don’t really know what happened or what caused it, obviously, or any of that part.
So you mentioned that you’re able to see them every other weekend or so over the last several years with this new arrangement. How have you been able to maybe give individual time to your twins are always with them altogether?
Yeah, I usually have them both at the same time. Yeah, I usually pick them up on Fridays. And then I have them until Sunday. And then I see them Thursday of the following week, and I take my daughter to dance practice. But even with that my son still comes to me. And now with COVID. Like we can’t even go inside the watch it. So if the watch it over zoom while I’m sitting down in the car, basically.
That’s tough. That’s, unfortunately part our part of life these days. Yeah. What have been some of the challenges of have not been able to be with your kids during the week?
Um, well, the main one is my work schedule. So my schedule has changed a couple times upon accepting different roles with the company. So currently, like I work a second shift type schedule, and I work Sunday to Wednesday. So I go in at two in the afternoon. And I get done at two in the morning. So obviously, as you can tell, there’s unfortunately no time for me to be able to have my kids let alone spend the night during the week or something like that.
That’s tough, because when you’re when you’re available, they’re in school and when you’re when you’re working. Right, exactly. You mentioned I think your parents, oh, how the grandparents been able to be involved with the twins?
Oh, they’ve been great. And yeah, even through the whole divorce thing, and when that was all happening and what was going on during that time period? Yeah, they’ve been great. And the difficulty though the logistics with them having on is they live on one of those age restricted developments. So it’s a smaller house. So as far as like having them for overnights, it’s just not feasible as far as that goes. Because there’s really no space for him to sleep or anything like that.
When the twins were babies were the grandparents able to help over just you and your ex on your own with that.
Oh, yeah, they definitely. Yeah, both sides. parents. They were involved. Yeah, with helping out as far as babysitting. If like, the ex and I wanted to go out for dinner or something like that. They helped out we had friends to the course stepped up and they were able to help out some times and watch the kids for a couple hours here or there.
Did you have success finding babysitters other than family?
Yeah, we actually most of the babysitter’s I mean that we used were obviously friends that we had known. We had tried to do the whole care comm route and didn’t have unfortunately too much luck with that. So yeah, we just pretty much stuck to people that we knew, basically. And that seemed to have worked.
Yeah with our babysitting history, it was usually we’d find matches like you somebody we knew a family couldn’t watch the kids. You know, we go to maybe the youth in our church congregation find, you know, a teenager that could come over and hang out with the kids. We did have a neighbor across the street for several years that was like the go to babysitter but then she got you know, she graduated high school and moved to like, Oh, no, our babysitter’s gone. That was perfect. Because she could just walk across the street and yeah, that’s nice. with people that you knew for babysitting were. Were these adults. Were they teenagers. What did you settle on?
They were pretty much Yeah, all adults. Yes. And none of them. The only young ones we’ve used are pretty much like currently. There’s a girl that comes couple times a week and she’s 16. So she’s in high school, obviously. But yeah, for the most part, it’s always been adults pretty much.
How have the twins reacted to babysitters?
Um, they’ve been, for the most part pretty good. It’s been hit or miss with my son. Unfortunately, we’ve had a couple incidents with the younger babysitter, not with the older ones that have come by. Yeah, he’s got some behavior issues we’ve been dealing with for the past couple years. And he’s in a program in the school because of his behavior. So it’s been a little touch and go with that. But we’re hoping that with him going back to school, as opposed to doing the virtual learning, that’ll kind of get better in that respect.
We found once we found a babysitter that worked that kids liked, we would try to stick with a babysitter. So the kids at least knew what to expect. And so you mentioned some behavior problems with with your son has been a big contrast between him and your daughter.
Oh, yeah, definitely. Well, it’s interesting, because they’re both in programs for different things. My daughter is actually in an IEP program for some learning issues that she’s had for the past. Once, I guess two years now, she’s been on that. So she’s in that for learning. And like I said, My son’s in another program because of his behavior. But my daughter has gotten a lot better. And that’s definitely helped with her being in that program. And then there’s a specialized teacher, that helps her a lot with things. So that’s definitely seen huge improvement with learning.
It’s great that they’re getting the help that they need. Were there signs of this these challenges early on, or it just kind of snuck up in the last couple years?
Oh, no, I definitely. Yeah. When my daughter was, like, more, so the reading aspect. We noticed like she wasn’t pronouncing words correctly, or having trouble making what the word was like in a book or story or something. And once we noticed that happening more frequently, that’s when we got the school involved and had to sit down with a couple people. And that’s when they agreed that she needed to be in this IEP program.
When you’re when you’re twins premature, are they pretty full term?
Yes, they were. It was four weeks premature, or three weeks? I guess it was
Yeah. Yeah, sometimes. I mean, twins are often born early, definitely earlier than just a single baby. And sometimes I can have kind of lingering challenges with their development, their cognitive skills, their physical development. And that manifests itself in many different ways. I’m not saying there’s a connection between them and what what your twins have had. But I did see in our girls, they had some speech challenges. that once we once we started realized that was a problem, we were able to get some speech therapy, and some get through that. I don’t know if this was the case with you, but we kind of just got used to their, their way of speaking. And we just assumed that just the way that they spoke and the way they were, and it took a look, some input from grandparents or friends or family was like, Hey, we can’t really understand your girls, for us to be like, oh, maybe we should. Maybe we should look into this. So I know, I know. Other I’ve talked to other other dads on the podcast that the kids have had some one challenge or another. And once they realize that unable to get the help that they need through therapy or programs like you’re describing, they usually have some pretty quick breakthroughs in a good direction.
Yeah, like I said, it’s definitely helped. And yeah, I’m grateful that they have that obviously, in the scoring system, because Yeah, it definitely has helped.
So what are some of your favorite activities that you’d like to do with your twins?
Um, well, they love going to the park or playground. So anytime that it’s nice out. And when it’s the weekend that I see them. Yeah, I try to get them outside and get some exercise. And yeah, they love going to the playgrounds and playing on all the stuff. I try to get them to the beach sometimes because I don’t live that far from there. So they definitely love being outside. That’s for sure.
Let’s talk about screen time screen usage. Have you had any trouble with that with your kids? or How are you able to manage that?
Oh, boy. Yeah. So they both have the Kindle tablets. And yeah, that’s been a struggle, but it’s gotten better as far as recognizing Yeah, that Okay, you guys have spent enough time on it today. Let’s do something else. So there Understanding that a little more as far as, yeah, they can’t be on that, obviously, all day. And there’s other stuff that we can do. So then we’ll go and like play games or dominoes, or I’ll get them outside or something like that.
We have the same sort of struggle. I mean, I think every parent has struggled with with screen usage and management with their kids. Have you … I know what the Kindle in particular, you can have some parental controls on that to control usage? And yes, yeah. How do you how do you manage that with with the technology and some kind of family rules? Or how do you how do you mix those together?
Yeah, I mean, we haven’t said obviously, based on their age group. So there are limits as far as what they have access to. And that may also change the time. So it basically shuts off I think it o’clock at night. So we can obviously use it beyond that timeframe. And then it’s set to come on, want to say like six or seven in the morning, the next day. So basically, they can’t, they won’t be able to use it between their time frame. So that definitely helps, too. And yeah, it is nice to be able to have the extra control controls on there to be able to change stuff like that.
You made a good point about doing alternative activities to get them off the screens. We found that if we just say get off your screen, and that’s there’s nothing else to do, then it’s kind of a discovery back to the screen. It’s like a moth to the flame. Right? Yeah, exactly. If there’s some there’s some alternate activity, like you mentioned, great ones getting outside going in the park or playing games or playing dominoes, then the screen is not is not an option. It’s not a distraction, because you’re doing something else. That’s one. So in the early years, with twins, you have a lot of extra overhead and logistics, because there’s two of the same age and they’re very needy at early age. At what point do you think that? It was just like having two kids? It wasn’t necessarily all Twin Twin stuff all the time?
I would say maybe a year or two year mark? Um, it kind of changed a little bit. I mean, we got the typical questions, as I’m sure you did, too, with like, oh, are they identical? And oh, those twins and that always got annoying, obviously, in the beginning. But once that phase are part of it kind of was done. It was a little less annoying. And yeah, I kind of just treated like yeah, okay, it’s two kids. And
yeah, we all get those questions when they’re young. I mean, it’s really easy to get them because you know, they’re the same age or they’re in double stroller together. And it’s pretty, it’s pretty obvious that maybe they’re maybe they’re twins, but then they get older. I mean, we have identical girls, so they still get the twins stuff if they, you know, standing side by side, but otherwise, they’re just, you know, normal young women. So it’s like, not that big a deal that they’re a twin anymore. So, Randy, as we wrap up today, if listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way to reach out?
You can reach me by email, which is my last name morton301 at gmail.com.
Excellent. And I’ll link up to that in the show notes for the episode today. Randy, thank you so much for spending time with us and sharing your journey with us today. We really appreciate it.
Thank you, Joe. No problem. You’re welcome.
I hope you enjoyed the conversation with Randy about his adventures as a twin dad some of the ups and downs that he’s had. Now he’s managing with his twins, while being divorced while working a crazy schedule and coming through pandemic. Again, today’s show is brought to you by twintshirtcompany.com. Where you’ll find designs of T shirts specifically for families of twins, shirts that will make you laugh shirts that are fun to wear in public. And shirts that you get because you are a parent of twins. You can see those shirts over at twintshirtcompany.com. If you would like to share your story like Randy did today, I would love to hear from you. You can reach out to me via Instagram or Twitter @twindadjoe. Or you can email me [email protected] and I would love to hear from you. I’m also on facebook.com/dadsguidetotwins. Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time.
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