When Twins are Kids #3 & #4 and Baby #5 Arrives with Greg Parks – Podcast 303

Joe Rawlinson by Joe Rawlinson - May 23, 2024

Episode 303 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes

Today we continue our father of twins interview series with Greg Parks, father of boy/girl twins. Listen as we explore his twin parenting journey, including:

  • When one twin climbs out of the crib
  • Handling twins with two older children
  • One twin in NICU for 9 days while other twin is home
  • Welcoming another baby into the family after twins
  • Sleeping arrangements for all the kids
  • Baby monitor technology to keep tabs on kids
  • Exponential work when attention divided with twins
  • Never use twins or younger kids as an excuse for not doing something with older kids
  • Finding opportunities to get one on one time with the kids
  • Financial tips for young children
  • Balancing finances as a large family
  • and more…

Connect with Greg via email.

Podcast Transcript

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

Today, we continue our Father of Twins interview series with another twin dad, a fellow Texan father of five, including boy-girl twins. Share some of the challenges of welcoming twins into the family when you already have a couple of children, plus what happens when a fifth child arrives after the twins. That plus some tips on teaching your children how to handle finances and money at an early age. 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, welcome to the podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. I’m glad that you’re here today. As always, you can find me on the web at dadsguidetotwins.com, where you can listen to all previous podcast episodes and find other resources to help you along your twin parenting journey. If you are still expecting twins, I have a special gift for you today. You can get a free audio book version of my first book for dads called Dad’s Guide to Twins over at freetwinbook.com. Once again, that’s freetwinbook.com.

Today, I would like to welcome to the show Father of Twins, Greg Parks. Welcome to the show, Greg.

(RELATED: Check out the Dad's Guide to Twins Youtube channel for additional helpful twin tips and tricks videos.)

Hey, thanks a lot, Joe. Glad to be here.

Greg, how old are your twins right now and what’s something exciting about this age?

We have boy, girl, twins, Evan and Ava, and they are going to be turning three March 12th. An exciting thing right now, I think watching the two of them interact, they keep each other so much company and they really keep each other in line. Just last night, our son, so Evan, the boy, twin, has figured out how to climb out of his crib, though it’s lowered all the way to the ground. We took all the bolts out and everything. And this just started last night. And so went back, put him in, he’s pretty upset, put him back in. Well, no joke, we’re listening on the monitor. And after about the fourth or fifth time that I put him back in his crib, I hear him call out to his sister. And his sister tells him, they call each other Wubba. I don’t know where that came from, but she tells him, “Wubba, stay in bed.” And he says, “I want to get out.” And she says, “Wubba, stay in bed. Go night night.” And she was, you know, keeping him in line and telling him what to do. And from that, he decided, “Well, I guess I better stand back because my sister told me to.” And so just watching them communicate and, you know, have almost, almost have like, their own language and their own jokes has been so fun to watch as they interact with each other.

That is fun. That’s crazy. That just happened. If you have a unique situation, Greg, because as soon as one of my girls figured out how to climb on the crib, her other sister mimic that exact behavior and it was just chaos. Congrats to your daughter for being the mom in the room and telling everybody to stay put. That’s crazy.

Yeah. I think it’s a combination of being a mom. She very much has a motherly instinct with her dolls and of course watching my wife, Andrea, take care of our little one. But it’s a fine line between a motherly instinct and I think just being bossy. And, she is definitely the enforcer of the two of them, to the point that she usually takes the lead and he follows on pretty much everything. So it definitely has the positives as in last night. But it can also be a case where she’s just, she’s just being bossy. She needs to cool off. So, that’d be fun to see how it plays out. They both start breaking out of jail and how that turns out.

Oh yeah, yep.

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

Now twins are not your only children, right? What’s your family makeup look like these days?

So we have a great rambunctious family of seven total, two adults and five kids. Our oldest son, Nolan is 10. Our next daughter, Madison, is eight. And then we have Evan and Ava, of course we’re two year old twins. And our youngest Bailey just turned one this last Sunday, on January 14th.

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Now were your older kids old enough to know what was happening when the twins were born and you’re expecting the twins?

Yeah, no, it was great. We have a great video, like a lot of people these days, of them doing the twin reveal for them. And my wife Andrea had gone and bought two onesies two onesies and gotten them and put lettering on them where one of them said guess what and the other one said guess what else and we gave them to Nolan and Madison to open and just watching them. I’m watching their brains put together There’s two two outfits here. Are we are we having two babies and this look from both of them of instant surprise and delight. And then I think it was our son who almost was like, “Oh, so our family is doubling.” And figuring out what that would mean was really fun to watch. But they were so excited to have twins and to know that twins are pretty unique. So of course, they’re telling all their friends and things like that. We had a similar reaction when we told them we were having Bailey, our fifth, and that was a bit more of a mixed reaction of excitement. Then one more and adding on top of that. But watching their reactions to the twins was really great. They were very excited overall.

How did your twins react to the newborn, the youngest?

So when Bailey was born six weeks early, so she spent about three and a half weeks in the NICU. The twins were at an age, they weren’t even two yet. They were going to turn two that March. They obviously had no idea what was going on. They just knew things were different at the house. My mother-in-law was staying over, of course, while we were in the hospital and things like that. We had great family support, so thankful for that. I do have a great photo when we finally brought Bailey home. We’ve got some great photos and videos of Evan coming over instantly, taking to Bailey, giving her a kiss, just super excited. And Ava was a bit more reserved. I’ve got a great photo of her very sweetly just watching Bailey rest on the couch in her docketat and just kind of keeping an eye on her. Not quite sure what to think of her yet, but just watching over her in her motherly way. And now it’s been great. They’re at a point now where Bailey being one and the twins being almost three, they interact so well and the twins love to to make her laugh. They love to tickle her and they can just interact in a way that is so fun to listen to. You can even hear it from the other room and they’re just making each other laugh and that’s been a lot of fun.

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What’s the sleeping arrangements for all your kiddos? How do you fit them all in your place?

Yeah, so we’ve been in our house

now almost four years. We built it big, not knowing twins are on the way, but definitely glad for the extra space. And so we even wondered when we moved in, have we built too big? Are we gonna be able to fill these rooms with kids? Hopefully. And sure enough, we were blessed abundantly. And so our older two each have their own room upstairs. And then the twins have a downstairs room that was built as a media room. We never planned to use it that way, but luckily it was big enough because of that And it is the way whole old double of everything to cribs to dressers and it’s just down the hall And so they’re down there kind of tucked away and then Bailey is up in our third bedroom upstairs She just moved up to her own room as well. So that’s kind of where everybody is So they’re there in their own spaces So they’re not necessarily interrupting each other during the night or even each other awake partying all night stuff like that The twins go down to court a bedtime for us first were in public school the older term public school my wife teaches there as well and so we’re we’re kind of early to bed people for the younger ones and what’s fun is Because Evan and Eva share a room and their cribs are sort of catty-corner to each other They they sit up and talk every night for easily over an hour And they talk and laugh and they just carry on all these conversations But you know, they’re not bothering anybody else. And so when the older two go to bed, you know, they’re not bothered by anybody And so now that our littlest one is up in her own room She also is, you know tucked away and and so when things are going on downstairs We don’t have to to keep the volume down quite as much as to when she was sleeping in our room You know right off the living room. So it’s it’s a pretty good setup.

You mentioned listening to a baby monitor. How do you keep tabs on the twins in their room and your youngest in her room? What technology are you using for that?

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Yeah. I can’t remember the brand, but we’ve got two baby monitors that each will allow your monitor to attach to two cameras. We still have a camera in each of the older kids rooms, just in case they need us during the night. And which came in handy actually just recently we had about of stomach bug go through our house But so they eat have a camera and so that shared on one monitor and it will automatically, you know flip between them every you know 20 seconds or so and Originally, we then had two cameras in the twins room and we had one focus on each crib and that monitor would also switch But now right a point now We didn’t want to buy a third monitor And so we kept one camera in the twins room because it’s enough to watch both of them And then we put the other camera in Bailey’s room So overall we are monitoring four rooms on two monitors during the night and like during nap time. So That’s been a really great thing And one of the things we had to learn really fast which I’m sure a lot of people have learned also when you’ve got Especially a younger one in the house When others are taking naps when Bailey would nap in our room during the day Which is where we keep their monitors. We had to make sure that we turn on the volume down the twins would go play in their nursery and be hooting and hollering and all that sound is coming through the monitor in our room and Sometimes it would wake Bailey up or the older two are upstairs, you know playing upstairs in their room And so we had to get into the habit of taking the monitor out or turning them down all the way To make sure that Bailey could sleep in there and not be interrupted remotely.

They mentioned Bailey had to spend some time in the NICU, but no that was not your first NICU experience was it?

No, it was not. It was our longest one and Ironically with the twins Evan was our NICU twin Ava was able to come home on a normal schedule even though she was the smaller of the two She met her numbers faster And so Evan was in the NICU for about nine days and and that was our first NICU experience it was It was a very difficult few days. I know I mentioned this when you and I were talking before the show So we had when we came home from the hospital after the twins were born Obviously were exhausted. My wife was a rock star just like she has me with all of my kids She was amazing. The doctors were amazing. We had a great experience. We were at Medical City Dallas and just can’t say enough good things about them. That’s where all of our kids have been born. But we came home and so Evan was still in the NICU. And so we wanted to go see him, you know, pretty much every day. That was our goal to go every day. And we did. This was during COVID. They were born in 2021. And so obviously lots of restrictions on getting up to the NICU, which already has a lot of restrictions. The older two were still in school and again, you know, prompts to our family for helping out in so many ways. So basically what a day would look like when we first came home with Ava was, you know, she’s up all day and night doing feedings. And then we’re getting up and I’m taking the kids to school and dropping them off, coming back. And then we’re getting ready to go down to the hospital. to visit Evan, but Ava cannot go up to the NICU because of her age. And so some days my mother-in-law would come and she would either stay with Ava at the house or actually come to the hospital with us and watch her in the lobby. And Andrew and I would go up so we could spend, you know, extended time with Evan. But then it was back home, picking the kids up from school, sometimes going back out to the hospital later that night to see him. And so all this went on, looking back, it was only nine days, but it felt like six months between sleep deprivation and all that. But at the same time, we made it through, Evan got to come home. We have a great picture of Ava laying on the ground, not only looking at her brother on the NICU monitor, they have kind of their own zoo monitor in the NICU. So she’s looking at her brother, but reaching out to him on the monitor. And it’s a very special photo. She’s wanting him to come home. But it was a very, very hard driving away from the hospital that first day that we brought Ava home because we were leaving half of them in the hospital. And I mean, that was such a weird feeling to look back and see one car seat empty, and to know that he wasn’t coming with us yet. And obviously we were very blessed. Our other twin did come home. We know so many families that had twins and it wasn’t the same kind of turnout. But looking back in that time period, that was a very special time. It was a very busy time, but full of blessings and one that I wouldn’t change for anything.

Were there some complications or did he just need a little extra time to get ready for the real world?

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Yeah, he just needed some extra time. It was one of those that anybody who’s had NICU experience can relate to where he would meet his feeding goal for one day, but what they do is then they up the goal. The goal was constantly moving up and until he can meet it and then really surpass it, they don’t sign off with him going home. And so he was just needing to be able to just feed better. And he was also dealing with some reflux and things like that. And once he was able to show that he could manage all that and he was up where he needed to be feeding compared to his weight. They signed him out and we broke him out of the NICU and brought him home.

There’s been no lingering complications after that?

No. No, he’s been great. Like all kids who are two and three, they’re very picky eaters. But Evan is our only kid who not only, he’s our healthiest eater. All kids have their own preferences for eating. Evan, he loves to eat salad and loves fruit. And so a lot of times we will buy a salad from the store and a fruit tray and that’s his snacks for the day. Never had another kid who likes salad and fruit that much, but a lot of times he will pass up chicken nuggets for salad and fruit. So I’m definitely not complaining about that.

What were some of the unique challenges you’ve had, parenting, because you had singletons one at a time before the twins arrived, and how does that compare to kind of the time and attention you were able to give to the twins when they showed up?

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Yeah, and so that was obviously a very new territory for us. We know lots of people who, you know, twins were their first, they were one and two, and so they had kind of one experience, but when we had older singletons already, it was difficult a lot of the time to make sure that everybody was just getting the attention that they needed and that we wanted to give them. One of the things I know I mentioned to you was we had this idea, as we were getting ready for the twins to be born, that everything would be doubled. Double the work, but hey, double the fund, which in so many ways is true for sure. Thing I told a lot of people and they asked me what it was like having twins, I said, having twins is it’s not a linear kind of growth. It’s very exponential. And so when you have two at the same age, it’s not times two, it’s really, you know, it’s really squared to the second power. It’s what it’s what it’s like, both in the good and maybe the more difficult. But we found that because we were having to do everything twice. We would have to divide and conquer with who, I would get up with Evan during the night, Andrew would get up with Ava, and we’re going back and forth. And then when you’re changing diapers or feeding, you’re doing two of everything. And what we found out was, excuse me, that in a lot of ways we felt like our time with our twins would actually cut in half because we were always focused on one or the other and it was just never-ending, back and forth. And so in some ways, your time with the twins is shortened because you always have the responsibility of the other twin sort of edging into your time with their sibling. And then with our older two, and they’ve been phenomenal, they are great older siblings, They’re patient, they’re loving, they love to play with the twins, and that’s been so fun to wives. They’ve taken it very naturally. I think very much that they are, that no one in Madison are the favorites of the twins out of everybody else in the family. They love their older siblings. But we also could tell that, you know, we needed to devote some more time to them just because it’s easy for them to kind of get forgotten as we’re dealing with the twins so much. And one of the things that my wife has been so great about, she’s had to kind of pull me along sometimes when I forget, is that we make it a priority that we never use the twins or Bailey as an excuse for why we can’t go do something. We don’t ever want to foster any kind of even unconscious resentment toward their younger siblings. So if we’re not able to go to this activity or whatever, we are very cognizant to not say that it’s because, oh, we can’t take the twins or we can’t take Bailey. We want to make it where, and a lot of times they are part of the reason, that’s just reality, but we want to make sure that there’s not ever any feeling of, well, they’re keeping us from doing this as a family. And at the same time, we’ve tried very hard to still go and do a lot of things and to go and do them, all seven of us. Going to the store with twins, you get enough attention from your fellow shoppers, which I always enjoy that very much. and other people with twins will come and talk to us and they’ll ask if they’re twins, which is always really fun. But we can go and do a lot of things, all seven of us. And we get a lot of attention that way. And we always wanted our kids to know that, even though we’re gonna be limited on some things, we wanna go and do things as a family. My son was in basketball and, or no one was in basketball Madison was in cheer for his team on Saturday morning games. And we would load up the car and all seven of us would go and my in-laws would come and meet us there. And we were there in force. We were always there altogether managing the little ones and wanted them to come and be a part of that. And so I’ve always really appreciated our desire to do things as a large family, even when it’s hard. I think it’s very much worth the effort when you can to go do that.

I think that’s a great perspective to have the, yeah, not using, you know, one of your situations here, the kids or the two young kids to limit the activities for the whole family. There’s always something that you can do. You can make it work with your big crew. That’s for sure. We’ve got four kids. So we do get some of those looks as well when we go out in public, especially when they were, when they were little, all hanging, all hanging on the side of the cart or whatever, running around, you know, you make it work, figure it out. And some, some things you realize, okay, maybe just mom or dad should go do this thing by themselves. And other times you’re like, okay, let’s do this. Take the whole family. Yeah, we, we are at a point right now at their ages where a lot of times, if one of us needs to go run an errand, um, it’s very rare for, for us not to bring even one or two kids along with us,

 just, you know, not only to kind of have that one-on-one time with them, um, you know, whoever it is, you know, Bailey or the twins or whoever, But also just to, you know, for the parent who’s staying at home, to give them a little bit of a break and give them the chance to, you know, kind of hang out with, with the remaining kids. One of the things I always like to joke about is when you have five kids. Number one, it’s hard to get them all I like to use the phrase pond off so that Andrew and I can go on a day that that’s pretty tough and again we have great family support locally, but it’s hard. You can’t just drop five kids off at most places and say, “We’ll be back in a couple of hours.” But one of the things that I always laugh at is with our family, we can get three of our kids squared away somewhere else and still have two kids we got to do something with. And I always laugh. It’s like they’re always there. But when we do go out and run errands, it is fun to take some of them with us and just try to make that a special time. When you’ve got five kids and having four, you can relate to this perfectly. It’s more about quality time and not necessarily what it is you’re out doing. One of my favorite things to do is take the twins to the grocery store. We live right behind Target and to go to Target with them. And I have a routine. I drive around the parking lot looking for the double cedar cart. And it’s always going to be in one of the shopping cart bays. And that’s where we park and bring it over and put the twins in it and go in the store. And most of the time, it’s a lot of fun. Just taking them in and they love going. And you kind of get that special time with them. But you end up having a special time doing the most routine thing. Yeah, we do other things. We go to places like Great Wolf Lodge, and things like that, the zoo and stuff. But when you’ve got five, both logistically and financially, a lot of times, you know, what we end up doing is just making the most of just, you know, going to the grocery store and making that some special family time. So.

Yeah, I love that. We would do that too. It’s like you stuff that you may consider just routine or mundane can still be a meaningful opportunity to connect with your children, you know. So that’s great that you’re doing that.

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Greg, you professionally work as a financial advisor. What are maybe some tips to teaching some financial skills to very young children? Have you found any success with that on the home front?

I work as a financial advisor for Edward Jones. That’s my little plug there. My office is located in Plano, Texas and love working with families of all types and stripes and ages. But as far as working with kids financially, it is funny, my kids are still not exactly sure what I do. I’ve been in this field now for just since last July. I love what I’m doing. But they usually just tell their friends, “Oh, my dad helps people make money.” Which, you know, that’s my goal for sure. I’d love for your portfolio to grow. But some of the things that we worked on with them, and we were doing this even before I was, I was in financial advising, we, so we attend church regularly as a family. And so we try to emphasize, you know, setting aside some money for different things there, if there’s like a special contribution for the kids, you know, we try to make their money, you know, be a part of that. And also just looking, helping them go and see, you know, how to save up for things, whether it’s birthday money, or, you know, chores money, which we’re still figuring out chores in our house, but helping them save and then go and see what can I buy with this money and helping them especially at the ages of eight and 10, where they are not to be careful of impulse buys. And I’m the first person to be guilty of that. Still, I have to work on that. But helping them see not only the advantage of not buying something just for the sake of buying it, but the advantages of holding off, to wait gratification is a great thing to teach at that age and helping them see the benefit of money, saving up and then being able to buy something that you really want instead of just always spending it when you’ve got it, if it’s burning a hole in your pocket. One of the things that I think they’re getting to the age of now that I’d like to start working with them on is helping them see how money can grow when you invest it and things like that and the time value of money. What’s great is you can talk about that with your kids. one of the things that I talk with a lot of my clients about. That is a, you know, I think it was Ben Franklin that said, you know, one of the wonders of the world is compounding interest and the way that it can help your money grow. And so that’s a great concept to grasp as a kid, but it’s just as great a concept to grasp as an adult. And so those are some of the things that have been fun to talk with my kids about in the financial realm.

Now, are you giving them an allowance or would you just make all money they get as gifts or from other sources?

So they are big on earning money. And so we don’t have a formal system in place yet for allowance. What we do at the moment is outside of birthday money, Christmas money, things like that, we will sporadically assign chores that they can earn money on. One of the things that we’d like to implement that we’ve seen is a chore chart that has different categories. One category is things you must do every day. They’re kind of a given. And a lot of times, we are believers that some of the chores you do, you don’t need to get reimbursed for them. They’re simply a part of being a member of a family. It’s part of family responsibility. However, there are other chores that you can opt to do that we are glad to pay you for. And not only can you see what those chores are and how much they earn, but you can choose on your own when to do them and how often. And sort of give them some skin in the game for, “Hey, I’d like to earn some extra money. What can I go do? And here’s Here’s the pricing chart and things like that. So those are just some things I think we’re trying to implement soon for our family.

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That’s very clever. I like that approach. And you’re teaching the value of money, the value of work, and that’s great. So as families, with twins families, with lots of kids, there’s a lot of financial pressure to handle here and now with the family. So how do you juggle that while keeping an eye on the future as parents? You’re trying to save money for every day. You’re trying to save for retirement. And how are you able to balance those two things?

No, that’s a great question. And you’re absolutely right. It is so easy, even when you have one kid, a much less multiples, it’s very easy to sort of have blinders on and be very narrowly focused. And again, there’s no fault there. That’s just the reality of day to day. Even right now with our kids in school and my wife teaching and in my job and in the littles. I mean, most of us who have kids, again, regardless of how many you have, we’re kind of just focused on making it through today or even making it through the next couple of hours because that’s just reality when you have a big family. So, I think we have, Andrea and I have been talking a lot over the last couple of years about being more intentional about planning for the future. My wife is great at budgeting and keeping an eye on those things. And she kind of keeps us in the black there, which I’m so appreciative of. So we’re looking down the road, where can we set aside money here and there for these different costs? How can we start saving for things like college retirement and things like that. How do we do those things? And so just, I think one of the biggest things is number one, be sure that you and your spouse are just, that you’re open and communicating about it. I was in ministry for 16 years and one of the big three trouble areas in a marriage is money. And so, oh, and no one is immune from that. And so we’re always trying to be sure that we’re talking to each other about those things. I will be the first to admit, even ironically, being a financial advisor, money is usually the last thing I want to talk about when it relates. I’ll talk about everybody else’s money, but I don’t want to talk about our own money. And I’ve had to really work on that. And my wife has done a great job of getting me into that mode to do that. But being able to talk openly about it and make plans and both of you look for solutions and things like that. And I would say, and again, this is a shameless plug, but it’s a great opportunity to let a financial advisor come along. And I would say two things that a financial advisor can offer is, one, they can see things that you cannot, that are just either because you don’t know about them, because maybe you don’t have the financial knowledge in that area. And so we can provide education and enlightenment. I had never thought of that. The other great thing that our financial advisor brings to the table for anybody, but especially for families with kids, is the ability to consolidate your financial world into one lens. Most people have money in 12 or 15 different places, 401Ks, IRAs, a savings account over here, something I inherited. And it’s in all these different places and a financial advisor. And one of the things I love to do is bring all that together and give people a sense of their current financial health. We do some planning and dreaming about where they would like to be, whether that’s college for their kids, retirement down the road. What does that look like? Then that gives us a roadmap between here and there and You know We’re gonna we’re gonna look for how you can get there the best way possible and you know how we can help you do that and so there are a lot of advantages when you have Responsibilities like kids and it’s hard to kind of focus on those things sometimes an outside Perspective like a financial advisor, you know can be a great help to Showing up any gaps and making sure that you can you can get where you want to go

Fantastic. Greg, if listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way to reach out?

Sure. My email address, I’ll just give my personal one, it’s [email protected]. That’s an old high school nickname. That’s another story. But yeah, anybody who would like to, I’m on Facebook too. Just Greg Parks in the Dallas area. And I would love to connect with anybody and Joe, I’m so thankful for your twins group. It’s been a great blessing to me and to our family, you know, to, to walk this awesome journey, with a lot of other dads and families and to just appreciate all you’ve done for the twin dad community.

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Well, thank you. You’re very welcome. I appreciate you coming on the show today to share your story with the other twin dads that are coming up on the journey behind us. So thanks for your time today, Craig. We really appreciate it.

Joe, thanks so much.

I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Greg about his adventures as a father of twins and raising a family with five children. If you want to connect with Greg, I’ll link up to his contact information in the show notes for this episode. You can go straight to podcast episodes via TwinDadPodcast.com.

Once again, today’s show is brought to you by my first book for dads. It’s called Dad’s Guide to Twins. You can get a free audiobook version for you. This is perfect if you’re still expecting your twins over at freetwinbook.com. Once again, that’s freetwinbook.com. If you’d like to share your story like Greg did today on the show, I would love to hear from you. You can reach out to me via Instagram or Twitter, also known as X. My username is @twindadjoe, or you can drop me an email, [email protected], and I would love to hear from you. Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time.

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Further Reading

Dad's Guide to Raising Twins book
Don't forget to pick up a copy of the definitive guide to raising twins. "Dad's Guide to Raising Twins" was written for fathers of twins to help guide you through the first several years with twins. Click here to learn more about the book and get your copy.