Running a Business and Town while Parenting Twins with Will Stephens – Podcast 262

Joe Rawlinson by Joe Rawlinson - April 20, 2022

Episode 262 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes

Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Will Stephens, father of fraternal twin boys. Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:

  • When the twins start walking
  • Handling finances with twins
  • Dealing with $1k/month day care costs
  • Limited paternity leave
  • Juggling running business and having twins
  • Having help from friends and family in early days
  • Pregnancy induced carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Healthy delivery of boys via c-section
  • Feeding boys formula
  • Sleep routines with infant twins
  • Milestones different between the twins
  • Deciding priorities while raising twins

Podcast Transcript

This is auto-generated so please forgive any mistakes.

Joe 0:00
Running your own business while also running a small town as an elected official plus balancing twin boys. All that and more today on the show.

Intro 0:08
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.

Joe 0:24
Hey everybody, welcome to the 262nd episode of the Dad’s Guide To Twins podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. As always, you can find me on the web at dadsguidetotwins.com. Today we are continuing our father twins interview series with a father of twins who’s just making it through that first year with his twin boys. But before we jump into that, chat, I want to let you know that today’s show is brought to you by my TwinTShirtCompany.com where you’ll find dozens of T shirts designed specifically for us parents with twins. For twin dads, twin moms and the twins themselves. Check out all those designs at twintshirtcompany.com. Now let’s jump right into that interview. Today we’d like to welcome to the show, father of twins Will Stephens. Welcome to the show, Will.

Will 1:08
Hey, Joe, thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate.

Twin Gender Predictor Calculator

Joe 1:12
You’re welcome. Tell us how old your twins are right now. And what’s something exciting about this age.

Will 1:18
They are 10 months old as of a week ago. And the thing that I guess is most exciting is that Nolan just took his first steps, all gosh, maybe two or three days ago. And of course, that’s something that most all parents get to experience. And it’s a natural part of their development, of course, but you can’t help but feel a certain amount of pride in it. And then Martin is just really starting to his personality is really filling out he is just very bubbly child, he seems to think the whole world is sort of a joke and all things are to be laughed at. So his taking in of the world is something that’s a daily wonder for my wife and I

Joe 2:10
fantastic. Are your boys identical?

Will 2:12
No, they are not. They’re fraternal. Nolan is quite a bit bigger than Martin. And he’s a little darker complected. And you could kind of see them natures of my wife’s family and mine. And each of them, as they both have some pretty distinct features from one another.

Joe 2:34
Are they are only children?

Will 2:37
yes, they are. You know, my wife is 38. And I’m 40 years old. And so like many people in this generation, we got started later than previous generations. But we got to at once. So it’s been absolutely life changing. To some extent, it has been the most frustrating thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life, I have no doubt about that. Because when you begin to have to rearrange all of your priorities, and all of your budgets and all of your things that you do as a matter of course, around these two children, when you go from zero to two, you know, they talk about cars going zero to 60. It’s like going from zero to 120. And it is quite a lot to manage.

Joe 3:33
So you mentioned some frustrations there, like budgeting for example, how are we able to reconcile finances with twins in the picture?

Twin Gender Predictor Calculator

Will 3:41
I’m not sure that we have honestly, I I think that we’re still seeing some real severe challenges in that way, especially with rising costs. We got a utility bill the other day, that was probably double what it would normally be. We’ve had some particularly cold temperatures overnight over the last month here where I live in Southern Illinois. And thankfully, due to, you know the generosity of our family, we’re making it and I can’t, by any stretch of the imagination say that, you know, we don’t have middle class livings for where we live. I manage a radio station. I’m also the mayor of my hometown. My wife is a journalist and between the two of us we make about $80,000 A year $90,000 A year depending upon a few things. And so it is enough to get by but we really find that the biggest adjustment has been just the the daycare costs. And I’m sure that there are other people paying a lot more than we are but you know, $1,000 a month in daycare costs when before you had children. You didn’t have that expense is something you certainly have to adjust to

Joe 4:59
Day care costs can be quite overwhelming with twins, I hear that from everyone I talked to you, the twins in daycare, were able to negotiate any kind of deals like a discount, because you have two, or was it just straight up plus price for both your boys?

Will 5:13
we did get a little bit of a discount for bringing both the boys to one daycare provider. One of the things that we found to be quite a challenge is because of the way the laws are written. When our boys were born, there was literally only one daycare provider who was eligible to take them. And it’s because you can only have so many kids of a certain age in Illinois, and perhaps it’s nationwide that way, I don’t know if it’s just in Illinois or not. But as we got to looking around at the different daycare providers that were available, nobody could take our kids, except for one provider. Now we haven’t been dissatisfied with them. We’ve been very satisfied with the care that we’ve gotten there. I don’t want to say we haven’t been but that was another challenge we didn’t expect or hadn’t thought of, was the fact that having twins made the pool of people available in terms of daycare providers, very limited.

Joe 6:14
Yeah, that’s something you don’t think about until the circumstance is right in front of you for sure. How old were your boys, when you put them into daycare?

(RELATED: Love podcasts? Check out the entire Dad's Guide to Twins Podcast archive for additional twin tips and interviews with twin dads.)

Will 6:23
I believe they were three months old, my wife had some months of maternity care and some other paid time off that she was able to take. And so she basically was home with them for the first three months, along with my mother in law and other family members coming by. So I believe they were three months when they went into daycare,

Joe 6:44
what kind of time off did you have, after their birth?

Will 6:47
I had four days, which you know, was not very much to say the least, when you’re managing your own independent business. And you have essentially a staff of three people. It doesn’t provide for a lot of leeway in your schedule. And so especially managing a independent radio station, you know, that has 6070 advertising clients, all those things have to be updated. I also host a Monday through Friday, talk show in the afternoon that deals with current events and local newsmakers. And so, you know, keeping that program fresh and going so that the sponsors that advertise on it are getting a program that matches what they are contractually agreed to advertise on. And then on top of that, you know, the ever changing challenges that I face as Mayor of Murfreesboro, Illinois, don’t cease because you have children. And so I took I believe it was four days off of work from both of those obligations, and then was right back at it.

4 Critical Mistakes Expectant Twin Parents Make

Joe 8:01
You mentioned that you had maybe your mother mother in law or your or your mom come into town how since you had to go back to work so quickly. How are you able to juggle those childcare needs in those first couple of months?

Will 8:12
Well, I have to thank God for the blessings because, you know, juggling things in those first few months, were really pretty smooth, because whether it was my my mom or my mother in law, our friends, others who would come by and give us a break from time to time. It was the it was not that difficult. And of course your family wants to be around the kids and they want to share in that joy and see them grow up and cuddle them. And you know, it was kind of funny, my kids became almost like social media stars, because my wife and I did not tell anyone that we were having kids in terms of, you know, our closest immediate family knew. But I have 5000 friends on Facebook, several 1000 followers on Instagram and these things because of the public nature of my jobs. And so when I posted that my wife and I had twin boys, it was quite a shock to a lot of the members of the community. And so I think that original posts got 4000 likes something crazy. And so, we’ve had a lot of people because of that. I’m gonna say come out of the woodwork and help. I mean it was amazing the number of folks that just dropped diapers off on the front porch or you know, sent cards of congratulations. So those early months were really filled with a lot of outpouring of support and that in my case that may not be totally typical because of the nature of who I am in my small town. But it was sure appreciate it.

Joe 10:08
That’s great to see the outpouring of, of love and service to you and your family. Let’s go back to when you found out that you were going to be having twins in the beginning. What was your reaction like to that initial news?

Will 10:20
Well, if I’m being honest, which I should be, I was shocked, I suppose I was not prepared for that I was, for a period of time, probably some sort of depressed, I don’t know how else to put it because I, I could see in my mind’s eye, as you know, my wife and I were trying to have kids, how we could manage one. But when I was told that we were having to, I just could not concoct a scenario in my mind where this is even manageable. You know, there’s a saying in business that you should avoid the unmanageable, and you know, manage the unavoidable Well, this was both unavoidable and man, manageable, in my mind, and so leading all the way up till then being born, I perhaps have never been more shaken, then. Then I then I was about the prospect of having twins at 40 years of age. Now, you know, of course, since they’ve been born, you get into a new routine, you figure it out. It’s always going to be jostled by the kids being ill, or whatever that throws new wrinkles into it. But you do figure it out. I don’t know how it’s sort of like walking through a dark room full of furniture you’ve never been in before trying to find a light switch and not run into anything. And so eventually, you start finding the light switches, and the lights start coming back on in your life, and you figure out how to navigate things.

Joe 12:06
How did the pregnancy go? Were there any complications during that?

Will 12:09
No, not really. I mean, it was really a pretty healthy, typical pregnancy. My wife had a few side effects. She had some pregnancy induced carpal tunnel syndrome, where our hands and our forearms are hurt a lot. And the other things that twin moms experienced through the pregnancy in terms of discomfort and difficulty sleeping, were all there. But overall, the pregnancy was mostly without complication.

Joe 12:41
How far along in the pregnancy, were they when they were born?

Will 12:45
I believe my wife was at 37 weeks, which was a very good, she was very worried that she might not be able to make it close to full term. But for twins, she she made it quite a long way. And obviously, the longer you can go, I think the better chance kids have of being fully developed and and being healthy.

Joe 13:09
Yes, 37 weeks is great for twins. So did that mean that the boys were able to come home right away when when mom was discharged from hospital?

Twin Gender Predictor Calculator

Will 13:18
Yeah, yeah, they were able to come home right away, I think on this, we were in the hospital two days, came home on the third day. And, you know, to our little house and, and got we’ve since moved to a new home since the boys were born, but it’s only eight blocks down the street from where we were living when they were born. So it wasn’t too far of a move. But we definitely needed to get something a little bit bigger. And because of the interest rates and the way things have been, it really didn’t cost us any more to move into a slightly bigger home.

Joe 13:54
So only a couple of days in the hospital where the boys born vaginally or what that sounds like two days is too short for a C section.

Will 14:00
No, it was a C section. But my wife was quite determined to get home and she wanted the parents or parents to you know, see the boys and and didn’t want to be delayed. And I think that that may have been also somewhat, you know, the painkillers, that thing she was on talking but we joke about that now because she often says, you know, what was I thinking I should have stayed in the hospital longer. Hindsight is 2020. And so we went home,

Joe 14:30
why does she think she should stay longer?

Will 14:33
Oh, I think that she just realizes now that she didn’t need to be in such a rush. The nurses were more than happy to, you know, take care of the boys through the night while she recovered. And you know, she jokes sometimes that she wished she can have that service even today, just you know, hey, take these children away when they’re being cranky and bring them back when they’re no longer crying, which was, you know, sort of the first 48 hour experience that we had with him at the hospital.

Joe 15:03
And you kind of take that for granted. When you’re in the hospital, I remember when our firstborn was delivered, like we wanted to have him in the room with mom and I, all night long. And you know, it’s brutal, right? Because mom’s recovering from C section, boys crying all day long. So then by the time that twins came along later, we’re like, yeah, take them to the nursery, let them sleep a little while, bring them back and bring them back when it’s time to feed.

Will 15:25
That’s definitely the perspective that we would have taken if we were to do

Joe 15:30
it all over again. Was the C section always part of the plan? Or was that a surprise late?

Will 15:34
no, it was always a part of the plan, one of the boys was in a great position, and it just wasn’t gonna make sense for her to try to deliver them naturally, so to speak. And so that had been a part of the plan. All along.

Joe 15:51
So you brought the boys home, and you did have some some help from family? What were some of those challenges with feeding? How did feeding work out with those infant boys?

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Will 16:00
Well, we went to Formula pretty quickly. I know that there’s some people that are very much dedicated to the idea of breastfeeding. But I certainly wasn’t somebody who was going to be saying that this was something that had to be I just wanted my wife to be comfortable. And so you know, feeding the boys never really was much of an issue, once we figured out how to, you know, make the bottles and work the warmers and all the these new gadgets that you have to fuss with, when you have kids, I’ll never forget, when we were leaving the hospital, I had not paid any attention to how the car seats work. And of course, this is maybe not directly answering your question, but it’s part of all the entirety of the experience. And I remember, I don’t know that I’ve ever been more frustrated and more helpless feeling whenever, you know, we’re supposed to be leaving the hospital, I’m out in the parking lot, trying to figure out how these car seats fit into the seat bases. And, you know, my wife and the medical staff are there at the doorway of the hospital, waiting for me to pull the car around. And I, I might as well have been an Amish electrician trying to figure out what I was doing with those things. But I eventually got them in the right place. And, and we got home. But you know, when it comes to the various challenges, whether it be feeding or driving or whatever, there are many,

Joe 17:38
there’s always something new to master, as a parent, for sure. How about nighttime routine and sleeping, were you both getting up with the twins or taking turns, what worked for you?

Will 17:48
there’s no doubt in my mind that I will never want to relive the first six months in terms of the nighttime. And what it became. We were getting up at the night, you know, as they would cry to feed them. And I just don’t know how I functioned. Honestly, and I don’t know that I really did. Because you know, we would be up two or three, four times at night with one or the other or both. And so you just walk around in this state of semi consciousness for months. And so you know, our routine has been the same since the beginning. And because we’ve stuck with it, it has yielded results now and the boys are sleeping through the night, pretty consistently. And that’s just the every evening, we get them home at about 430. From daycare, we play from 430 to 530. And then we eat dinner at 530 we feed them and then at 6pm they both get a bath for about half an hour. And then at 630 they both get a bottle and they go to bed. And they and we do that exact same routine, almost without fail every night, at least six nights a week, barring them being at, you know, one of our parents houses or something and keep it consistent with that schedule. has, as I said, typically they go to bed about 630. They wake up each morning between five and 5:30am. And they sleep pretty soundly through the night. So we’re happy about that now,

Joe 19:35
and routine is so essential with with twins in particular. It helps manage the chaos. They know what to expect and it gets them in a good glide path into bed or naptime. For sure. You mentioned that when your boys started taking some steps, like with crawling or some other milestones was one of the boys always been ahead of the other are they kind of taking turns?

Will 19:57
other kinds of taking turns Martin was First one to crawl. Noland didn’t seem to have much interest in that. And then we finally got it about a month after Martin. But then Nolan was much more interested in walking much more quickly. And he would be running around in his little juvie stand up, desk, stroller sort of thing. And he really flying around the house at night and then just a few days ago and started walking on his own, he’s still quite unsteady, and he crawls probably 80% of the time and walks 20% of the time. Martin dis doesn’t seem interested in it. Yet. At this point, he stands up real sturdily. But as soon as he gets ready to go somewhere, he just falls down on his butter his knees and then takes off crawl. And so we’ll see how those milestones go. But they seem to be alternating back and forth,

Joe 20:55
we saw that whichever one of our girls would figure something out first, then her sister would then start to copy that behavior. So whether it was crawling or walking or talking like they would start to mimic each other, and then learn from each other.

Will 21:10
Certainly, that’s what we’re seeing, too.

Joe 21:13
You mentioned some baby gear that’s been helpful for you along your journey. So far, what are some kind of must have items that have really made life easier for you as you’ve cared for your twins?

Will 21:22
Well, I can say that we were very lucky to be gifted, these bassinet is called snooze, and then sort of create a white noise and may have a base that sort of slowly rocks back and forth. And those I think, early on, even though we still had a lot of trouble with the boys sleeping, I think without those, we would have had a lot more trouble. And so I was thankful for those things, which was, you know, sort of, unlike anything, I had no idea there was such technology baked into bassinets these days until I had to look into it. You know, of course, we bought the double strollers. And that’s one of the things that always seems to calm the boys down a while I’m looking forward to spring because we can’t do it during the winter weather is just getting them out and taking them for what we just call a push. You know, we live in town and you know, there’s good sidewalks and so we can, if they’re both being fussy, just load them up and take them for a mile or mile and a half a couple mile push. And they immediately calmed down when we do that. The other thing we just bought recently, it was like a 10 by 12 play pen area, and we sort of put some soft mats down in it. And it has really helped pass the winter months because we can put them down in there with a few toys and they can run around and laugh at one another or fuss with one another and and we don’t have to necessarily be monitoring them as closely when they’re, when they’re in that area.

Joe 23:07
every piece of gear that you can get that makes life a little easier. It’s just a huge, it’s like having an extra pair of hands oftentimes, to help juggle some of the madness. What’s some of the best advice, or maybe what’s one piece of advice that you got when you’re expecting twins that really helped with your parenting so far?

Will 23:25
just accept the fact that you’re going to have to recalibrate some of the things and sort of figure out what is really important to you, in your social life, in your professional life, and even write that down on paper, and just sort of reconcile with the fact that some of those things are going to have to go away, at least temporarily anyway. Because the challenge that you’re going to be facing is, for me, anyway been bigger than any other thing I’ve ever taken on. And so I guess, just sort of mentally preparing yourself for how things are going to go. Listening to other parents of twins before your twins arrived, and doing those sorts of things. I wish I would have done more of that in advance of the kids being born.

Joe 24:29
How have you been able to keep a strong relationship with your wife through the ups and downs of raising very active young boys?

Will 24:37
Well, it’s not been easy because we’re both professional people. And we are, you know, still trying to balance our work lives and then by the time the end of the day comes your worn out and so, you know, the best thing that I know how to do is just to try to make sure that I right Usually schedule, babysitters and other help to come in, and gives her a little bit of relief and then find time for her and I to be just alone, together, whether it’s just to go out for a drive for an hour and to grab a bite to eat or something, you know, you really have to fight for your, your time together, because it won’t be given to you. You have to fight for it, you have to schedule it. And it has to sort of become like you have to put you on your calendar. And that’s something I heard TD Jakes say one time. And, and that’s, that’s really, really important. And set things out a little bit further to like, you can still find time together, it’s just going to have to be a little less spontaneous.

Joe 25:55
Yes, less spontaneous. Planning is so central. It was particularly with when both parents are working, juggling childcare duties as well. If you don’t plan for time with your partner is just not going to happen. So that’s that’s some good, good advice that you’ve shared there. Well, is there anything else about your twin parenting journey that you think our listeners would benefit from hearing?

Will 26:18
I, just one thing that I have been doing. And I think that anybody would be rewarded by doing this, whether you have twins or any number of children is that a friend of mine told me that one thing he regretted was that he hadn’t kept a journal about the raising of his kids. And so he recommended that be something that I do, and I don’t write in it daily. Some weeks I do some, I may go weeks without writing in it. But I have been very consistent since the boys were born and writing down little notes and tidbits about the daily challenges and joys of my sons. And I think that you know, much later on in life, I know that will be a very cherished thing because you, you don’t realize how much you forget about the day to day juggling of it all. Because even now, if I go back and look through it over the last 10 months, I read things I wrote that I forgot happened, but that I’m glad I wrote wrote them down because they’re kind of special little details. And so journaling in life, generally speaking is rewarding. I think it’s perhaps doubly so when you do it about your kids.

Joe 27:42
Very true, particularly in this first year when everything’s kind of a sleep deprived. There’s a haze. Trying to remember those details. If you put them down on paper, it’s a lot easier to capture that. So Will, as we wrap up today, if listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way to reach out?

Will 27:59
They can connect with me on Facebook. My name is Will Stephens last name spelled with a ph they can find the Mayor of the City of Murfreesboro, Illinois. My email is [email protected] I’m on Twitter as radio will and connect with me in all those various ways.

Joe 28:25
Fantastic. Will, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. We really appreciate it.

Will 28:30
Thank you Joe.

Joe 28:32
I hope you enjoyed that chat with will about his adventures as a father of twins. If you want to connect with we’ll link up to his contact information in the show notes of this episode over at DadsGuideToTwins.com. Once again, if you’re looking for a creative and unique and funny t shirt for parents of twins, they make perfect gifts or you can wear them yourself or give them some to the twins. Head over to TwinTShirtCompany.com and I’m sure you’ll find something that you’d like. If you’d like to share your story like Will did today on the show. I would love to hear from you. You can reach out to me on Instagram or Twitter at @twindadjoe. I’m also on facebook.com/dadsguidetotwins. If you found this episode helpful, I would love if you’d give a rating and review on your favorite podcast player of choice, Apple podcasts, Spotify, you name it. And please share this podcast with another parent who may be expecting twins or is in the trenches of parenting twins right now. Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time

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Further Reading

Dad's Guide to Raising Twins book
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