Being an Actively Engaged Father of 7 (Including Twins) with Damari Gupton – Podcast 291

Joe Rawlinson by Joe Rawlinson - May 22, 2023

Episode 291 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes

Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Damari Gupton, father of fraternal twins (girl/boy). Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:

  • Raising 7 kids ages 11 years old down to 6 month-old twins
  • Supporting Mom as she breastfeeds the twins
  • Struggles of twins’ schedules not being in sync
  • Balance parenting the twins and other children
  • Taking time off work and career choices based on family needs
  • Establishing routines for housework and employment
  • Risks and challenges of comparing the twins
  • Making room for twins in the house
  • and more…

Check out Damari’s book: The Answers I Never Received: A Fathers Guide to His Legacy

Podcast Transcript

This is transcript auto-generated so please forgive any mistakes.

Joe  0:05

Today we are continuing our father twins interview series. With the father of seven children, including fraternal twins. He has some great insights into how to juggle all the demands of a busy family life. work responsibilities, taking care of your partner and some great insights into how to interact with your children to foster those relationships, even when you’re trying to manage so much at the same time.

(RELATED: Your twins will need a lot of gear. Here's the complete twins baby registry checklist to get ready for your twins' arrival.

Intro  0:28

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.

Joe  0:42

Hi everybody this is Joe Rawlinson. Welcome to the Dad’s Guide to Twins podcast as always, you can find me online at twindadpodcast.com. You can find the show notes for this episode and listen to all previous podcast episodes. Today’s show is brought to you by my second book for dads it’s called Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins. This book will guide you through the first couple years of raising your twins. You can learn more about this book at raisingtwinsbook.com Today I would like to welcome to the show father of twins Damari Gupton. Welcome to the show Damari.

I am lucky. I have twins.

Damari  1:08

How are you doing Joe? Thank you for having me.

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Joe  1:10

Doing great thanks for being here with me today. So Damari, you’ve got quite the crew. You’ve got seven kids including twins, right?

I am lucky. I have twins.

Damari  1:18

Yes.

Joe  1:18

What’s the age range for those children that you have?

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Damari  1:21

My oldest is 11. And my youngest well my twins they are six months today actually quite the household.

Joe  1:30

So when you when you found out that you would be having your twins. What was your reaction like when you got that news?

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Damari  1:35

I found that I had the twins that I was having twins. I actually started breaking out in sweats. And me and my wife we have right now with two year old so at the time he was you know about to turn one. And you know we wanted to have him a running me. Somebody grew up with that he know he found out she’s pregnant. She was pregnant and okay cool. You know, then we went to that first appointment. You know I watched the ultrasound. You know, since this is not my first rodeo, I know how ultrasound looks. So when I see you know, two different spaces with two different surgeons and I’m like, oh, man, like, had access to those twins. Someone asked me the nurse didn’t even want to look at me. You know, my wife asked me like you know, you’re playing you know, you’re playing you know, almost fainted, you know, sitting down almost fainting. So it was it was a big surprise. Big surprise.

Joe  2:37

Especially, especially being a father already and having kids already you knew and what you’re getting into it’s just another childhood to have to have to at the same time. What were some of those thoughts you had right away? Like I was just going to be different than than what I have already.

I clover my twinanigans shirt

Damari  2:51

Um, I don’t think it was really nothing you know, to be different. It was just that nobody to have to, you know, so I know there’s a part of you don’t go to work. I started making up my mind did I know I was gonna have to be home. You know, I was gonna have to do a lot more instead of just you know, working and taking care of household I knew I had to be in the house and you know, managing things a little bit more and being more hands on and you know, helping my wife with you know, what was actually going on with it.

Joe  3:21

What were your other kids reactions to finding out that you would be having twins?

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Damari  3:25

Oh, this was definitely shocked. You know, he he’s, he’s 11 Right now it’s time so at the time he was maybe 10. But now it’s it’s all great news and you know, he loves it. He loves being a big brother. You know, he loves to switch you know, I can have an I have XRV now my daughter into you know, FM five and five minutes can have z my son you know five minutes and you know he likes it. He likes being older brother as he knows he gets some leeway for me. So, you know, he loves it. And out the group and you know, I had one daughter so, you know, she’s getting used to not being the baby. You know, so it’s and she knows it’s coming along. It’s coming along.

Joe  4:13

Are the other kids. Are they helpful? Are they active with the twins or do they just kind of ignore them and do their own thing?

I clover my twinanigans shirt

Damari  4:21

All of them that they have, you know, never have with with enough rooms, you know, things like that, but they always want to be in the same room. All of them wouldn’t be together. You know, can I change a diaper? Can I try feet and you know, can I try to do this? Can I try to do this? They’re all helpful. You know when might not have them all it’s, you know, a big, big break, you know, a good relief. breath of fresh air.

Joe  4:48

Oh, yeah, that’s great to have so many helping hands, especially you mentioned they’re six months old. So right now you’re really in the thick of things when they’re infants. When he had to do a lot of hands on work with them. What was how was it pregnancy like for your wife? Were there any any challenges or complications with that?

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Damari  5:03

Oh, no, it was there was there was none, you know, just the first trimester. You know, morning sickness and things like that. And after that, it was it was a breeze. She she’s a trooper, you know, kind of a kind of a shock to me, but my son that I had with her before the twins she and I have natural and she had imagined in a live room floor. So you know, when it twins was coming, I think I was more stressed. I stopped that she was because you know, I wish I had you know, PTSD. Because I’m just thinking so you know, I’m glad to be here. You know, delivering to babies again. So it was you know, but um, never we made it on time actually maybe like 15-20 minutes at the hospital before she delivered them all natural, you know, so So it was you know, it was real. It was very eventful for me, you know, notice, notice how much of a trooper she was and you know, that things were really, you know, here now,

Joe  6:07

I’m glad you made it to the hospital this time. That’s probably a little better arrangement than in the living room. Yes, surely was. So the babies were born they were they were healthy. Did they come home in a few days or did they have to stay at the hospital?

I clover my twinanigans shirt

Damari  6:19

The we’re home within 48 hours.

Joe  6:23

So your babies are born healthy. They come home from the hospital. And all of a sudden boom you go from or five kids to seven at the home? Or some of those big challenges in the first the first couple of days with having the twins One

Damari  6:34

big challenge was sleeping, to be honest. You know, we had a routine plan, you know, that we were going to, you know, sleep at two hours, you know, switch back and forth but being that she breastfed and you know, we figured though, okay, she breastfed, so we thought that it was going to be kind of like the last one. It completely wasn’t like they were one on one off and then one went to sleep. The other one was up, wanting to eat and then once we got that one asleep, next one woke up. And this was constantly kind of constantly so it was it was rough like these these first, the first couple of weeks was definitely rough.

Joe  7:19

Because you never get a break. If somebody is always feeding. Like you’re always doing something with one of the babies right? How are you able to kind of break out of that cycle. To get something more manageable.

Damari  7:28

Be honest, we haven’t even broken up that cycle yet. We’re still in that cycle. Right now. They have a little like they go to sleep, maybe at 9am to like maybe 10am And then there they go down maybe at 7:30pm and then back up like maybe nine you know, so those are like the tabs that we see where we can settle in and you know, at least try to breathe and straighten up a little bit in the house. But that cycle has not broken yet.

Joe  8:01

So you only have these small windows of time during the day when they’re both asleep and that’s

Damari  8:05

like that’s all that’s all that’s brutal. Yeah, it is but you know, we can be managed you know, I put him in a struggling I take him for a walk. You know let my wife get a break and you know, she’d do the same for me. So you know, we we get some type of type some type of down you know, alone time. No just to get our minds right before we had to jump right back into it.

Joe  8:30

Your other kids at school are some of them at home with the babies during the day.

Damari  8:33

Two of them are home with me and the other ones are school. My one of them is homeschool. And the two year old, we not want to put him in daycare. So you know he’s he’s at the house with us. So you know, it’s it’s 3 under 3 So that’s another story.

Joe  8:52

How do you balance making sure your twins are getting the attention they need and your other children at the same time?

Damari  8:57

I come from a big family so you know I always left to do everything together. But what I usually do is you know once all of them is hanging out you know kids sometimes we like to go separate themselves. And I always catch that. So whenever like my oldest was to my oldest will go and be by yourself. I’ll go have a conversation with him you know, have a little you know, contests we play a game or you know, push up sit ups you know same thing that will my daughter will do the same thing. You know when I talk to my own mother boys the same thing. So it was just when it’s all hands on deck that makes it a lot easier for me to find you know, Tom like that and I always keep you know open conversations with them. You know a farmer was going on and and that’s about it.

Joe  9:46

I like that I like how you keep them involved because it’s really easy as it new data twins to just be focused right on the babies because they’re the highest need at the time. I love what you’re doing. I love what you’re doing there about seeing the kids what they’re up to pulling them back in, keep them engaged, you know, even if it’s a little bit of one on one time with them. So they’re not feeling pushed to the side. Just because you got the babies in the house.

Damari  10:09

They understand that you know just I find that, that it’s more of a conversation to help them you know, to help them understand what’s going on, you know, informing them that I’m still here, you know that it’s it’s a requirement for me to be here with the twins and to be on you know me hands on with them and holding them and things like that. But if I get the time is I haven’t picked up. Like my oldest, I haven’t picked him up in maybe like three years like actually holding him. And a couple of weeks ago I did that. You know, I mean just to so he could get that type of feeling. You know what I mean? So it’s like I don’t want to make it seem like more of my attention is here you know not thinking or things like that. So you know it was just balancing you know given doing it all.

Joe  10:57

Um, how did you manage your your wife manage time off work when when the babies arrived?

Damari  11:02

Okay. When when they came I went on FMLA because I was at the post office. And they gave me you know, my three months I took that. And then once I went back to work, I think I went for maybe two or three days. And then I see my wife on a decline, you know, PTSD and it started it started hitting her that she needed me home. So I had to quit I am a veteran so you know I am you know collecting my pension and things like that. So she’s a mind coach, a mindset coach. So you know she works on and I’m around more home so I was like, you know, we we can balance them you could do that. So it’s it’s like we had to transition from working outside until working in home. You know what I mean? And that’s what I’ve been, that’s been my that’s been my hardest transition, working outside and to me working you know, from home, things like that.

Joe  12:01

It does it does take creativity. I’m glad that you recognize that there was a need with your wife and your family and you made a decision to come home and support everybody. Sometimes as dads you know we have to, to kind of adjust you know, make a pivot do something different. And it may just be for a season of our lives where we do something different and then we go back to what we used to do, maybe not but to see and be flexible was is I think a key a key trait for fatherhood. Exactly. Biggest thing. Okay, so you mentioned your wife are both working out of the house. So there’s one there’s one thing balancing all the kids in between themselves and then another thing to balance work and family that kind of in the same space at the same time. How are you able to do that?

Damari  12:40

It kind of felt like a routine without planning to form a routine, you know? Because she’s a big dinner person she loves to make dinner and you know as a father, you know, I as a man, I love breakfast. So I love making breakfast, you know? So whenever, you know we would get up. I do a big breakfast. You know, we eat that. And whatever’s left like we’re taken to brunch. Hang on a minute, and then once it’s downtime for my two year old and she starts dinner, so like that’s the routine you do when it comes to you know food. I usually handle the cleaning because she handled with the twins. So you know it’s like when I lead she picks up the she likes I pick up and you know that’s that’s really about it when it comes to like home routine but when it comes to like the work routine is whenever she needs time. You know I could I could go you know I have no problem taking the kids getting quiet and space, you know that the piece that she needs so that she could get in her mindset to be her mindset coach. So you know, that’s that’s how we balanced that and work that up.

Joe  13:58

So did it just kind of fall into that routine or were you very conscious about talking about who’s who’s in charge of what let’s say?

Damari  14:05

Um, we just fell into that routine. You know, our communication is great, but at the same time, it’s like I pick up I pick up on a lot as a father you know me as the man in the house I pick up on you know, who needs a break or who might need this who might need that. And I noticed that she works greatly when she’s in a peace of mind you know, when there’s no yelling or screaming there’s nothing for her to actually have to focus on anything else. That’s why I will do the breakfast. You know what I mean? I get up I can breakfast so when we put the kids down for that hour, it’s a quiet house to clean house and she knows she’s about to eat you know, food today and so she has nothing to worry about except for that work. So she had good a good hour. You know what I mean? And you know, maybe around one two o’clock I get up not take all the kids out. Hey, let’s go out and I give them a good another hour and a half two hours to you know, get more work done and you know, get ready. And you know, it’s just like, you know, I’m I focus on making sure that she’s good. Because, you know, she’s breastfeeding. And I understand that, you know, she’s stressing at a lower production, you know, and the quality might not be I was supposed to be so I’ll make sure that I’m on my part to keep her you know, in the high spirits, you know, that mindset.

Joe  15:26

That’s great. Sounds like a good you have a good routine a good kind of rotation of who’s doing what, when they’re doing it. Yes. Yes, that’s fantastic. Kind of my wife and I can do the same thing. We both work out of the house and so when it’s her turn to do her stuff, I’m in charge of you know, I’m in charge of dinner in charge of making sure that kids are where they need to be so essential to be you know, a good partner with your spouse or with your with your family. So everything get done, everybody can be where they need to be,

Damari  15:49

you know, it helps that we have you know, other kids and we have the experience to you know, to pick up on certain things like that. And, you know, that’s that’s where, where my experience is false and you know, I’m able to, to see you know what’s going on and to you know what I mean to just fill in the blanks to keep everything you know push and once a day you know same with you also you know, we we have to make sacrifices also and you know I was sacrifices makes our life better.

Joe  16:24

So because you were a father before the twins, what are what are some of the things that are totally different, let’s say because it’s not just another baby, it’s, you know, it’s too or are some of the things that are kind of unique to having twins that you didn’t experience with when your kids came before one by one,

Damari  16:37

I guess comparisons, you know, because it’s too grown up together. You’re thinking okay, if this was gonna start crawling, this one is going to start crawling or if this one is gonna start falling asleep and you know being self soothing. This one is awesome. complete opposite. My daughter, she’s self soothe and my son. No way. Like it’s not happening. He has to have mild or he has to have somebody holding it. And that’s you know, I think that’s that’s the biggest thing you know, just the comparisons, you know. I think my daughter is even a little bit faster. But then it’s like when I have time with my son, I realized that he could do it too. But I just think he knows, or somebody’s around it and you have to beat me up if I cry. You know, my daughter. She doesn’t do it. My son had do it only if he has to. You know like I see him trying to sit up I see him trying to crawl. He only does that when nobody’s around but you know that’s that’s about it. Just a comparison. So like you have somebody to look at and he’s like, I guess maybe competition amongst the two that you get to notice. He’s sitting up and you’re not okay. You’re reaching for things and you know, she doesn’t know that’s about it.

Joe  17:58

Yeah, it’s it’s a blessing and a curse of being a parent of twins as you you have that comparison right in front of you. And it’s yes, it’s up to us to decide, you know, or we can always get beat comparing them or we just kind of focus on their individual needs and their individual progress, but it’s hard because they’re right there right there in front of you. They’re both the same age people in theory should both be developing kind of the same rate. But that’s not the case.

Damari  18:19

My son he was actually born with a tooth cut and that’s one of the ones something I’ve never seen or even heard of. And, and he actually has his two bottom teeth. And my daughter are top two is coming up before her bottom so he’s he knows like hey, is what’s going on y’all some different kids, you know, but I’m just ready to see you know, they could pitch and see how it’s how it’s really bad to be their personalities. You know, that’s that’s what I’m really patiently waiting to see, you know, their personalities.

Joe  18:53

Here. We get hints of that personality when they’re really little and then yes, it’s fun to see as they grow up as you know with some older kids are ready like other changes are what stays the same kind of like one of our girls was a lot more active and always kind of moving. And her twin sister was a little more stable, I guess tranquil. And that’s that’s kind of always persisted since the you know even up to now. So these things that you’re observing now with your with your your babies will be interesting to see if they still have the same kind of personalities as they get older.

Damari  19:20

They watch my two year old a lot. Whenever he runs back and forth, back and forth. Your eyes are just on him. So I know they’re picking up on it very, very quickly. Pretty soon I know they’re going to be doing exactly the same thing.

Joe  19:35

That’s right. They want to move they want to run all over the house to do we had when our twins were born we had two boys already and they were really young. It was like three, three and two ish. And so I hear I hear you when you’re talking about toddlers running all over the house running circles around mom while she’s trying to breastfeed the babies. It’s just gonna take his career he kicks his crazy that’s for sure.

Damari  19:55

Yeah, it was you know, is is crazy. But then again, you know, it’s it’s a great experience. You know, it’s like, like a while because a lot of people have to experience this. A lot of people don’t get to see this. You know what I mean? And it’s kind of like, heartwarming,

Joe  20:10

it’s really sad. Right? It is a beautiful, unique experience that we have as twin dads and not a lot of people get to experience. So let’s talk about how are you able to fit the twins in your home? Are they in their own room? Are they sleeping in your room with you and your wife? What are those arrangements like

Damari  20:22

I got kicked out my bed I got kicked out um, you know because she you know she breastfeed so you know, it’s one on one of the one on one so you know, she usually just moves from side to side, side to side. I take my my two year old and we you know, get comfortable somewhere go to sleep but you know if I hear you know a disturbance you know when a twins want to cry I have to get up automatically check on you know, see and make sure things good you know even might even take one you know give a little break but night you know because when my military training um you know, contentment not you know, getting much sleep because I could work on that I’m used to working on that. So I let her get her rest up to build her up. You know what I mean? I know my time will come when I’m able to get some rest but right now I know that she needs it a lot more. So you know, I give it a bed. I give it a space you know things like that.

Joe  21:19

Do you have to do anything like that with the other kids or just just with the twins?

Damari  21:22

No, just just twins. No, because it’s too you know, it’s, it’s this tool may not want to its tool so I know she has an attachment. You know what I mean? And because she has that attachment, it’s like I’m comfortable with let her do what she needs to do especially at night. You know what I mean?

Joe  21:43

Yeah, for us it started like when my wife was pregnant, you know? Does you know what just with one baby versus two like very she was very uncomfortable. And then later stages of the pregnancy and that kind of prepared. If you like, okay, it’s not gonna be the same once the twins are here either. You’re gonna have to make some arrangements differences, for sure. So let’s talk about baby gear. You mentioned you take the kids out for walks and stuff. Is there any particular strollers or gear or anything that you found very helpful with your twins?

Damari  22:10

Um, we have the double stroller. I think it might be the nodes nests. But I know one of the seats also gonna turn into like it’s a seat for my two year old awesome. So I will take that up with my two year old and see what when car seat on top strap one baby on my chest. We works. It works like that.

Joe  22:35

So what kind of carrier do you have to wear one of your babies?

Damari  22:39

I forget the name. I think it’s the baby born or something like that.

Joe  22:43

Oh yeah. We used the Baby Bjorn too.

Damari  22:45

Okay. Yes was the baby born in August struggling man might put a hat on because you know the weather is getting a lot better right now where I’m at. So yesterday we went out he was just outside. You know what I mean? Regular, you know, put a little sweats on him. Make sure he was warm, and all of them fell asleep. Once you get outside, maybe 20-30 minutes. They sleep.

Joe  23:07

We thought okay, well the twins are here. Maybe our toddler is fine just walking around with us. But no, the toddler still wants to ride in the stroller even though there’s two babies. So we had to make room for that for sure. So I love your creative solution of just wearing one of the babies and pushing the other. So tomorrow in addition to a busy father and taking care of your wife in your in your family. You’re also an author you wrote a book about your journey as a father. Can you tell us a little bit about that book?

Damari  23:33

It’s called The Answers I Never Received: A Fathers Guide to His Legacy. What I did with this book was I put a lot of principles that I would like my kids to live by. And I gave them my experiences. And I did this because I was hard headed as a kid. My parents they gave me a lot of useful information. But I didn’t listen to it because I wasn’t giving the explanation. Like if my mother my father was to say, Oh, no more candy. Why? Because I said so. Okay, well I’m about to go sneak and you know, Ed piece of candy. And then three weeks later I got like 10 Cavities you know what I mean? So I made sure that you know, I I gave my my kids the explanation. You know, you know what you do and why you should do it and know why you shouldn’t do things. Like one of the principles I gave them was decision making. I underlined that, you know, your decision making affects you for your future. You know what I mean? And I gave them examples and, you know, experiences that I did, the bad decisions that I made. And, you know, just ask them not to repeat it because, you know, it leads to a little headache stressing and things like that, that you have to worry about. And I don’t want to have to do that. Just to like a head start for the future. So

Joe  25:04

that’s great. I love I love a principle based approach to parenting. Even mentioned that earlier in our discussion where you would when you’re talking to your older children, you explain the why of why we’re doing this or why I’m busy right now with the twins. And was an example of that and even even when kids are very young, they can still understand that why when you share that with them and helps them internalize why that decision was made. So that’s great. They’re able to put those examples down in a book. If listeners want to get that book or check it out. Where should they go?

Damari  25:35

Um, so Amazon, it is on Amazon, you know if you search my name, Damari Gupton. The title of the book The Answers I Never Received: A Fathers Guide to His Legacy. So they could get it there.

Joe  25:47

fantastic Yeah, I’ll link to that in the show notes for the episodes. Everybody can check it out. So tomorrow as we wrap up today, what’s one final parting piece of advice you’d give to a dad maybe just found out he’s having twins. What would you tell them to encourage him on his journey?

Damari  26:00

Oh, tell him to be patient. You know, don’t over stress it. Don’t overthink it. Help you wife or you know the mother of your twins. Make sure you’re there for her. Because she she’s definitely going to need it. Spend time with your kids. A lot of parents have you know, misconstrued a lot of fathers have misconception that you know that the mother that the mother the child supposed to do it you know supposed to handle everything with the kid that’s you know, the biggest Miss information that we were given you know what I mean? We need to be there also be there for your twins you know, give wife a break you know, just be around be patient. Be around and have fun with your experience.

Joe  26:44

That is great advice. Be patient and be present and be there. Well, tomorrow. It’s been wonderful to get to hear about your story and to get some great insights from you as a father, I really appreciate you sharing that with us today.

Damari  26:57

Thanks for having me. Appreciate that. You know, the story and advice helps helps a lot of fathers.

Joe  27:04

I hope enjoy that conversation with Damari about his adventures as a father of twins. And being a father of seven. If you want to learn more about his book that he’s described, and someone gets some of those insights for yourself on your father’s journey, your parenting journey I’ll link to that in the show notes over at Twin dad podcast.com. If you’d like to share your story like tomorrow did today on the podcast, I would love to hear from you. You can reach out to me via email Joe at dads guided twins.com or hit me up on social media @twindadjoe on Instagram or Twitter. And I would love to hear from you. Again today’s show is brought to you by my book Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins. You can pick up a copy of this book for yourself at raisingtwinsbook.com Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time.

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