Raising Fraternal Twin Boys with Kris Pruett – Podcast 308

Joe Rawlinson by Joe Rawlinson - May 23, 2024

Episode 308 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes

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

  • When twin fraternal boys look very different
  • Developing different interests in children
  • One twin physically gifted vs other not
  • Having two additional boys after twins
  • Dealing with congenital heart disease for third son 
  • Sharing a room as twins
  • Setting behavior expectations with children
  • Teaching money skills with allowance
  • Moving twins to homeschool during pandemic
  • Handling sibling rivalries and dynamics
  • Keeping marriage strong while raising young children
  • Why keeping twins on the same sleep schedule saved their sanity
  • and more…

Connect with Kris via the Team Graycen page on Facebook.

Podcast Transcript

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

Joe:  Today I would like to welcome to the show Father of Twins, Kris Pruett.

Kris:  Thanks for having me.

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

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Kris:  So my twins are actually, they just turned 10 the week before Christmas this past year. And two boys, paternal, they don’t look a thing alike. And the exciting thing right now, I think is just seeing their different personalities come out, seeing their different interests as they get older. Like I said, they look starkly different. My wife’s Hispanic, so and I’m Caucasian. So one of my boys is obviously darker, complected than the others. That’s a fun dynamic for whenever we have to tell people that they’re twins and they’re like, no way. But seeing their personalities grow, seeing their interests differ is pretty fun.

Joe:  That is fun. We have identical twin girls, so I never quite experienced what you’re describing, but it seemed like once they got out of the infant baby stage, where you’re always in the double stroller carrying around, nobody ever seemed to know that they were twins. You mentioned some developing interests in your boys at this age. What are they, what are they into these days?

Kris:  So it’s interesting. One of my son has always been more physically gifted. He walked first, he crawled first, he rolled over first. He’s been a lot more spatially aware of like his own physical body and, and all of that type of thing. And the other one has been more, I guess like software, he’s been drawn more to like whenever he plays on his iPad, he’s a little bit more gifted in that area. I’m like playing video games and different things like that. So, but he’s less physically gifted. Like he walked, or it took him longer to start walking. It took him longer to start crawling. So that’s been interesting. So my son, the more physical one is interested in flag football and, and soccer and those types of things. And he’s faster. He’s taller. He’s, you know, just more physical. And then the other one wants to play e-sports, you know, he wants to play video games and those kinds of things. He does want to play soccer. He’s interested in that, but not near as excited, you know, visibly on him. You can’t really see that visible excitement about physical activity.

Joe:  Has that physical difference been consistent since birth?

Kris:  Since birth, yes. Yeah. So we had them at 33 weeks and four days. And they were supposed to be due in like February. We had them the week before Christmas in 2013. So yeah, we had them late 2013 and whenever they were born, maybe A was Braden, he was 4’8″ and then Jackson, the more physical one was 5’5″ and that has been the way ever since they were born. At this point now, I think Jackson’s about four inches taller than Braden and weighs about a hundred and five pounds. And, uh, and then he also outweighs Braden as well. So they’re, they’re very big disparity between the two. That’s what also makes it kind of funny when we say they’re twins because of the, of that four inch height difference. So they always assume that Jackson’s the older one whenever Braden is, um, he’s actually three minutes older. So there’s one contraction in between the two of them. And as we tell people that they’re like, Oh, that’s wild, you know, like they would have no idea.

Joe:  Yeah. We know we have some friends of eternal twins as well. And they have a big size difference between their boys. And yeah, you wouldn’t know at first glance if they ever twins or just brothers. You mentioned other children. Are they older or younger than your twins?

Kris:  So the twins came first and then six years later, it was a couple of weeks after our twins turned six, we had baby number three. And he was born full term, 38 weeks. Um, he was like eight, 14 when he was born, um, size wise. And then, uh, we had another surprise. Um, our fourth one, and these are all boys. Uh, we had him June of 21 and, uh, he was 10 pounds, five ounces when he was born. So that’s when we kind of shut the factory down and said, okay, no more. Cause our babies just keep on getting bigger. So it’s like, if we have a child that’s going to be a 12 pounder, might as well just, you know, hang up this case for now and go from there.

Joe:  Well, having the twins first, how do you think that prepared you for having, you know, just one at a time or some of the big differences you saw there?

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Kris:  Well, we were hoping that it would make it a lot easier for having just a single child, but the doctor did warn us. They, uh, they said, okay, since you had twins first, and since, you know, her HGG levels are so high that she stood to have twins or multiples, like a 60% chance of having those at her second pregnancy. So we were like, okay, we probably need to just hold off for a while. And we had some complications getting pregnant with the twins, but once we started paying attention to like ovulation cycles and diet and those types of things, it really only took us a few months of really paying attention. But once we got pregnant with our third, about 20 weeks in the big anatomical scan that they do, we found out that he has congenital heart defect, which turned into congenital heart disease, which is a chronic illness that affects one out of every hundred children. So we thought that having a single child third would be more simple, and then God had a different plan and kind of threw us that wrench in the mix. So that was very exciting after the 20th week of his gestation, trying to mitigate all those issues.

Joe:  And how was that played out?

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Kris:  It’s played out really well. Um, he had surgery, he had two band-aid surgeries. I call them band-aid surgeries. It was really just to prepare him for a larger surgery. Um, he had a surgery at seven days old and then he had surgery at six months old. And, um, and then finally had his, uh, last surgery with last summer at three and a half years old, he recently turned four in January. Um, but he’s sitting all this marks developmentally. He’s doing really well. Um, if you wouldn’t, if you don’t see the scar on his chest, you wouldn’t really know he had any sort of issue. So we were very fortunate.

Joe:  Yeah. That’s great that he’s hitting his milestones since that’s some good care to help along that path.

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Kris: : Absolutely. Yeah. We’ve had some great doctors. We used to live in Texas. We actually, I mean, my wife were born and raised there. And then COVID hit, we kind of, we’ve always wanted to live up north. So once we got to all clear from the cardiologist for my third son, we moved up here to Washington, Washington state. And we’ve been up here ever since late 2021, right about the time our fourth son was about six months old. So, so that’s been a kind of a change of pace, but we really enjoyed it and being in a different area and experiencing new things, giving our twins different sports and things to pursue has been an also an exciting thing to get to do.

Joe:  So House Full of Boys, let’s talk about. I’ve got two boys and two girls, and I know boys and girls are very different in raising. With your four boys, how has it been being a father of boys and how’s identity, the kind of relationship building between you and them worked out?

Kris:  It’s worked out really well. It’s interesting because I grew up with two older sisters. So I was the only boy in my family at all. And it’s fine, we found out we were pregnant. My dad was like, you know, it’d be cool if you had twin girls. And I was just like, well, dad, if I don’t have any boys, this is the end of the name. I mean, I’m the last boy, last in the weekend, so I gotta have some sons. And I pulled it off, I got four, so. But being a boy, dad, it’s nice for me just cause I understand, you know, physically what’s going on with them at each step of the way. Just cause I am a man myself. And I always told my wife, if we had daughters, I mean, I probably would have been not the disciplinarian. They probably would have gotten away with a ton. But I hear from other girl dads and they say that that’s not true. So, but I would not know at all. But being a boy dad, it’s, it’s fun. We, we have a lot of fun. There’s, um, having friends that are the same age, and same developmentally, and we’re reaching that age at 10 where they’re starting to argue more, and they’re starting to have a little bit more gifts and things like that. So mitigating that every day has been fun. Trying to decide, do we ground them? Do we take away privileges? Do we take away screen time? And those kinds of things. We’re trying to be the less, picking our disciplinary actions very carefully, I guess, that that’s the way that we try to do it. But it’s interesting having twins and then we have two other boys that are only 18 months apart. So we found that there’s two separate friend groups, but they’re all together can play as well. So that’s been fun. So we can have the twins downstairs playing and doing what they want to do. And then we can have the little ones upstairs playing and they can do whatever they want to do. And everyone’s happy because they have sort of a a built-in sibling slash friend that’s around the same age where they can play with the same poise. I think it has been, has been fun.

Joe:  Yeah, that’s nice. How are the kind of the bedroom sleeping arrangements for, for your boys?

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Kris:  Yeah. So we, we moved up here in a fifth wheel camper, which was crazy. We had four children and a great day that we moved up here with. And we stayed in that camper for two years and it wasn’t a small camper, like 43 feet long. It wasn’t tiny, but still six people in such a small area is crazy. And then recently we moved into a townhome that has three levels. It’s four bedroom, three and a half bath. So our twins, we gave them the basement. So they have their bedroom, they have a big playroom, and then they have their own bathroom, full bathroom downstairs. And then the smaller ones have their own room together and they’re on the same floor as us upstairs. And then we have the main living area in the middle. And that’s worked out really well. Art twins have actually maintained a shared room all their life. So ever since they were born, we put them in the same crib. They got, they kind of outgrew that. We put them in separate cribs and then eventually moved them into toddler beds, twin beds, and those kinds of things. So that worked out really well. And they’ve enjoyed, you know, being together. I think once we probably get into the teen years, we’ll look at separating their rooms and them having their own spaces, um, just to kind of spread out and, and have that area, but for right now it’s working really well. I’m having them separate.

Joe:  Our girls have shared a room their entire lives as us, as have our sons. I mean, our sons are Singletons, but they’ve always been roommates since that was their early days. So they don’t really know any different. I mean, they know different because they’re old enough to know different, but it’s not like there’s an additional space where we live right now for them to even have an option.

Kris:  So, gotcha. Yeah. We, when we were in that camper, they actually shared their, all four of them were in the same room. We looked out and found my lifestyle and a model of the fifth wheel that had its own bunk room. So the two big, big boys were on bunk beds that were over the top of the smaller children that laid on. Well, one was in a play pit most of the time with the, with a mattress. And then the other one was on a mattress on the floor, kind of a small situation where they’re in the corner. So that worked out really well. I mean, like I said, it was cramped, but it got us up here and, and really it was a nice way to have an easy way to pivot if something happened with our third son, if something happened with his brother, some issue like that. So it kind of kept us mobile in that way.

Joe:  Yeah. It gives you options for sure.

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Kris:  Yes. For sure.

Joe:  You mentioned experimenting with different disciplinary things at home. What’s something that is working right now with your boys?

Kris:  What’s working with the older twins, what’s working is taking away privileges like screen time. And having them know what’s expected before that happens, I think has been something we’ve learned recently, rather than just having a knee jerk reaction and just saying, okay, you can’t play video games for the next two or three days, we tell them what our expectation is. They’re going to act a certain way, don’t hate your brother, those kinds of simple things. But we’ve also seen recently too, since they’re so much bigger than the smaller children, that they have a hard time understanding house or horse play and like rough play and things like that. Like what’s too rough to a two year old and a four year old, versus what’s too rough for my 10 year old brother, ’cause they can take something that’s different. So we’re trying to help them learn, okay, don’t yank on his arm, don’t do this kind of thing that’s too rough because I’ve heard horror stories of little boys’ arms getting pulled out of socket and things like that, like don’t play too rough. But really what’s working disciplinary wise is that just taking away certain things and, but like I said, making sure they’re aware that that is what the consequence is so that they’re not blindsided when it happens. So they understand, Oh, I did this. So therefore this is my punishment.

Joe:  When do you have that conversation with them? When do you set that expectation?

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Kris:  The expectation has said, it depends. I think if we notice the action happening a lot, then we, we mitigate it that way and we say, okay, I’ve been noticing this. It’s happening. So if this keeps on continuing to happen, this is going to be your punishment. Like you’re going to get this taken away for a day or two. If you can’t do this. And one of the big factors recently has been, just not cleaning their room and just not maintaining their own areas. And it’s not anything that we’re not like, you know, very military about it. You have to have your bed made and all this other stuff, although that would be nice, but just simple things like making sure you’re dirty clothes or pick them off the floor, making sure your clean clothes stay hung up until you wear them, those kinds of things. So giving them responsibilities, even now at an early age so that they’ll learn later on that those are what’s expected just for you to live your own life, you know, it’s been kind of a learning curve, even at 10, you know, giving them simple responsibilities that are tied to allowance and tied to, you know, rewards and the reward system that they can, you know, see is it’s benefiting them as well as having their own responsibility has been the biggest factor. I mean, that’s what, that’s the biggest disciplinary thing for us is making sure that they’re taking care of their own stuff and appreciating the things that they get for Kristmas and for birthdays and things like that.

Joe:  You mentioned allowance. How was that structured in your house?

Kris:  So we’ve been using a website called Green Light and Green Light works through an app and it’s like a paid service and you can set up chores and then your children go through the through the week and they check out those chores and then depending on what percentage of the chores they check off, it determines what percentage of the allowance they get. So we’ve always done the allowance is however much, however old they are in dollars per a week as what we, as what we’ve been doing since they were about eight. It’s worked out okay. But what you have to do is you have to remember to check off the actual chores while you’re doing them, because if you don’t remember to do it, then it won’t. It’s like an automated thing. So at the end of the week, it will automatically drop those funds into their own account. That is tied to a debit card that they can use for, you know, saving money or purchasing things or anything like that. But we’ve always taught them, you know, save money back, have money for spending, have money for giving to, you know, charity or giving it to the church. And that’s what we’ve been taught. So that’s what we’re teaching them. Now that they’re 10 and we’re noticing that, like, we probably shouldn’t reward them for just waking up and brushing their teeth. It’s one of those things that is expected. So we’ve restructured the chores to things that they normally wouldn’t be doing as a form of helping out the entire household. So that’s been a little bit of a change of pace that we’ve worked on. But like I said, green light worked out pretty well for a while. But with older kids, it’s one thing that you have to watch very closely in having four children versus having just the two twins makes it a little bit more difficult in that regard.

Joe:  Have you started the allowance with your younger boys?

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Kris:  Not yet. So we’ve been talking about it, having a child that’s four and kind of understanding money and what to do with money and those kinds of things. I think we’re going to wait until he’s a little bit older, until maybe he’s in school and starting to learn about numbers. And we’re looking at preschool right now actually for him. And then that brings up another point too. Once COVID hit, we had to put our twins in homeschool. So they went to spring break in Texas in March of 2020. And given the health complications with our third child, it was impressed upon us to keep them at homeschool at home. So that’s been a whole another monkey ranch in the grand scheme of things.

Joe:  Have you continued to homeschool them since then?

Kris:  We have, yeah, we’ve kind of done a hybrid since we moved up to Washington and since some of the restrictions have been lifted, we put our kids in what they call a parent partnership with the local school. So they actually go to school on Tuesday and Wednesday all day. We dropped them off at the local school and then they actually will tend to subjects that we aren’t currently teaching them at home. So here at the house we’re teaching them geography, math, handwriting, and reading. And then they’ll do a little bit more of like some science and some of the other subjects like you know physical education. It’s obviously something they get there too, but they also get that interaction of other children their age. And then we’re extremely involved in our local church as well. Um, so they get to hang out with friends from church. They’re actually both part of a chess club now that the church is putting on on Wednesdays. So they’re learning that and, um, strategy and how to play those games and things like that as well. So they’ve, they’ve really enjoyed that. But for the first two years of homeschool, it was, uh, my wife will tell you, she is not built to be a teacher. Um, so having to be thrown into that that dynamic was a steep learning curve for you.

Joe:  Yeah, we actually homeschooled our kids too when they were really young. We ended up putting them in the public school, probably when the twins were third grade and then our other boys were fourth grade and fifth grade. And so, yeah, finding the curriculums that would work with our kids and keeping them engaged in those activities sometimes was a challenge.

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Kris:  How old are your kids now?

Joe:  Um, they are sophomores, juniors and a junior and senior.

Kris:  Oh wow. Okay. Very cool.

Joe:  Yeah. My girls turned 16 this year and I’ve got 17 year old and 18 year old.

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Kris:  Wow. But having three in high school, I mean, or four in high school, that’s, that’s interesting. I grew up when we grew up, my two older sisters are, my mom had three children within the span of 30 months. So they’re 17 months apart or they’re 13 months apart. And then me and my middle sister, the 17 months apart. So I’ve always grew up in a family where there’s a lot of kids, you know, like there’s a lot going on. Um, so it’s not very wild for me to have four children and not, you know, and it’s not chaotic. Whereas my wife, she grew up as a single child. So you know, the having sibling rivalries and sibling discourse and things like that is not something that she’s used to, but she’s not having to, you know, fight with siblings over different things, even if you’re boy and girl, you know? So it’s, that’s been a fun dynamic to chase as well.

Joe:  What’s something maybe you learned growing up, that you’ve maybe done things a little different or done something that’s working as far as that sibling rivalry dynamic?

Kris:  Giving each other space whenever there’s discourse going on, I think it’s been good. Um, and just learning about how different people handle different things has been interesting because one of our sons is he’ll just recluse once he gets in trouble. He’ll just completely clam up and he doesn’t want to talk about it. Doesn’t want him. Doesn’t want to see you for that minute. You know, he just doesn’t, you know, at all, he’s not very, he’s sensitive, but he’s not outwardly sensitive. And then our other son, uh, the other twin is extremely sensitive. Um, so, you know, if you get onto him too harshly or what he feels is too harshly, then he’s just going to cry. He’s just going to be upset. So knowing that growing up, like I grew up with sisters, like I was the more sensitive child and my, my siblings were not. So I knew sometimes you need to react with this one differently than you would in another one. Cause if you, you know, raise your voice with one them, they might get scared and cry. If you raise your voice with the other, they might get angry. So it’s kind of having that dynamic, but our twins are going through this one phase right now where you get onto them and say, Hey, don’t do that right now. We’re don’t, don’t do this. And then they’ll do it that one more time. And, uh, and I don’t know if it’s just that little act of defiance that kind of, you know, erks me, I don’t know what it is, but we’re, we’re trying to help that along as well, trying to figure out how to, how to go through that in this point correctly. So it ends at that age. I’ll say that.

Joe:  How have you been able to keep your relationship strong with your wife over these years of the challenges of the health challenges of your one son and, you know, twins and a dynamic household full of boys?

Kris:  We’ve done okay. There’s been definitely times of like, every, everything is focused on that one aspect, especially during surgery times for, you know, a heart surgery that’s, you know, our last heart surgery was 13 hours and we still go back and forth to Texas for his care. So we try to focus on that. We’ve, since we’ve moved up to Washington, we’ve surrounded ourselves with some friends that are willing to take all four boys for us. Um, they’re willing to take a weekend and say, Hey, if y’all want to go out and do something for, you know, Valentine’s or, or this or that, like, um, feel free to, and we’ll take the kids. Ironically, the, the, the people that we have found that have helped us out the most have six children of their own. So five of those which are adopted. So I guess to them, And they’re just like, and they range in age from two to 18. So we, uh, and they’re like, you know, what’s for other kids, you know, just bring them on over. We’ll feed them all and we’ll make it work. So we’ve been very blessed in that aspect. Um, early on, uh, I think for the first six months of the twins life, we were just in survival mode, just trying to figure out sleep schedules and turn, you know, make it work with me going back to work. My wife became a stay at home mom. So that was a whole different learning and experience. So it was definitely not a priority on our list of to dues for us to have time together. Um, now that they’re older, we try to find ways during a week, um, like on Saturdays and Fridays to where we’ll stay up later than the boys. They usually go to bed around eight 30 and nine. And, uh, or we tell them to go downstairs and play video games and then we’ll stay upstairs and watch a movie or play a game or do something like that. So we’re trying to be more conscious of that aspect of the relationships so that we’re making more time for each other. But early on, it’s very difficult, especially whenever you have limited help from family and or friends like we had. We didn’t have a great support system whenever they were super young, which made things really different.

Joe:  Yeah, when they’re so young and so dependent on you, it’s survival mode, like you said. And so I’m glad you have some good friends now that can help you out and you can spend time together. That’s so critical.

Kris:  Very critical. Yeah. And we trade off, like, you know, that we take, we go over there to their house and watch their kids as well. So it’s kind of that, that nice partnership of helping each other out when we can, as we can. So it’s been good.

Joe:  So Kris, let’s imagine one of your friends comes up and says, Hey, Kris, we’re going to be having twins. What’s, what’s the one piece of advice that you would give them to help them through that?

Kris:  Uh, don’t buy the giant double stroller. It’s a waste of time and money. Um, we, well, that’s one aspect. Um, but I think the biggest takeaway from us, cause we, we were actually, my mom was a youth pastor whenever my kids were having first time in twins. And one of the girls in our youth group found out she was having twins. And as we were getting our twins on the same sleep schedule and all of those things, she just let them do whatever they wanted to do and sleep whenever they wanted, eat whenever they wanted. And like, you could just see it all over her, all over, like all the time she was just exhausted. And I think that’s been the biggest, you know, positive for us was my wife got, she started reading articles, She started looking up stuff, Google this, Google that. We went to the Twin Diversity Facebook page and just said, hey, what do you do for kids that are young, the twins that are young? And the sleep schedule was, getting them on the same sleep and eating schedule was paramount. Because if that wouldn’t have been the case, I wouldn’t have been able to go back to work without being exhausted every day. And then her being a stay-at-home mom, it would have been very difficult for her to get anything else done other than making sure the kids were dead and got naps during the day. So that was, that’s the biggest takeaway. I mean, I can talk about the ins and outs of, you know, getting different hardware and stuff like that, double strollers and things like that all day. But the way bigger than that is the scheduling, getting them on the same, like, you know, one of our sons will wake up in the middle of the night and want to eat. So then we would wake up the other one and just feed them at the same time. And then we had put them back down and they’d go to sleep. And I’d say within about a month, maybe three weeks, they were starting to get on that same schedule of waking up at the same time, feeding at the same time. Um, one thing I will say too, we were going through about 20 bottles a day, 20 to 22 bottles a day feeding them initially and, uh, finding a way or getting something that can wash all of those bottles at once was really nice. Um, so that was very helpful as well. Uh, so that you’re not having to just constantly clean models.

Joe:  Yeah, that’s great advice. Schedule, schedule, schedule. That saved ours. It’s interesting. I need to for sure.

Kris:  Oh yes, for sure. Yeah. Like I said, first six months for just survival and chaos. And once we got them on that same schedule, it’s like everything just clicked and uh, made, you know, our family didn’t like it. You know, sometimes we would have to leave, you know, family get togethers and those kinds of things early to keep them on a sleep scheduled. But I mean, they, they weren’t going home with us to put them to bed. So we didn’t feel too bad about leaving early.

Joe:  You have to prioritize the schedule. And sometimes that does mean some sacrifices, but the good news is that you’re not stuck in that schedule forever. Eventually they start to grow out of it.

Kris:  Yeah. Two years down the road and no one’s the wiser and we’ve made it out.

Joe:  So, well, Kris, as we wrap up today, if listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way to reach out?

Kris:  I mean, they could just search for my name on Facebook. I forget what my actual handle is, but I’m on Facebook primarily. And then if they want to follow along, even with my other son’s journey, he has a Facebook page it’s T-E-A-M-G-R-A-Y-C-E-N. And then we also kind of throw a lot of the family dynamic in there as well with our twins. So that’s a great way to find and follow on that information as well.

Joe:  Excellent. I’ll link up to that in the show notes for this episode Kris. I really appreciate you spending time with us today Thank you for sharing your story.

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