Twins are a handful on a good day. Extra so if you’re alone and raising twins as a single dad.
I recently read the story of a 68 year old single father of infant twins who was left alone with his babies when his wife died within days of giving birth. It is a heartbreaking account and yet there are lessons every single father of twins can learn to help on your parenting journey.
Regardless of if you’re a single dad due to divorce, separation, death, or another complicated situation, know that there are other dads like you. You can do this! Here are some ways to cope with the challenges of raising twins as a single father.
You can’t do it all, so do the most important things first. You need to decide what the most important things are. If your twins are growing and safe, you’re doing great!
Your priorities from before twins are likely not as significant as caring for them now. It is OK to let things fall by the wayside as you focus on your most important task: your twins.
Try to get into a routine that works so everything gets done that needs to be done. A bonus here is that your twins will find comfort in a predictable routine. Yes, it will need to change occasionally but if you have a fallback routine it will help keep some sanity in your home.
While the structure of a routine is great, remember to be flexible or you will break. Schedules change. Activities pop up. There will be surprises along the way. Roll with the punches.
When caring for infant twins, keep track of feedings and care since no one else will be there to remind you. Sleep deprivation in the early months can make you easily confuse facts and forget what you did or didn’t already do. Your twins’ doctor will ask about feeding, pooping, sleeping, and more to assess each child’s health. Having the facts on hand will make those doctor visits a lot more productive.
Plus if you journal your thoughts, it will help keep you sane.
Budget is tight on one income. However, it is totally possible to raise twins on a single income.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
Yes, you’ll need to get creative with your budget but it is within your reach through auditing your expenses and cutting back those that aren’t truly necessary. Plus there is a whole world of discounts available to twin parents.
Just because you are a single dad doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Ask for help. You don’t have to do this alone!
Help can come from friends, family, babysitters, daycare, church, or more.
If you have it in the budget, paid child care can help ease your burden as you juggle work and family responsibilities.
Have someone watch the twins for an evening while you get away with friends. That little break will be the refreshment you need during a crazy week.
Keeping twins contained with two parents is difficult. When it is just you, controlling your twins when out in public is not only difficult but can also be a safety issue.
When containing your twins, baby gear is your best friend. When out with the twins, keep them strapped in the stroller. (Here are some great twin strollers.)
Alternatively, you can wear your twins in a baby carrier if they aren’t too big.
(RELATED: The Twin Stroller Advisor helps you find the perfect double stroller for your family.)
Yes, you might even consider leashes for your toddlers.
At home, use Pack-n-Plays, play yards, door gates, and childproofing to keep your twins out of trouble when you are busy cooking, showering, or dealing with household chores.
As you are a one man show, you’ll need to have your supplies within reach no matter where you are.
Stash frequently used supplies like diapers, wipes, pacifiers, toys, changes of clothes, etc. where you are most often with the twins.
Prepare back-up stashes of what you need in your diaper bag, the car, the family room, the kids’ room, and more. This way, you’ll always have what you need without having to go to far and without leaving the twins unsupervised.
Single Father Stress
The very reasons you are a single father of twins may still have lingering stress and burdens. You may be mourning the loss of your wife or still fighting a custody battle with your ex-wife.
All of these emotions and mental baggage can weigh on you. When you combine that with the demands of caring for twins by yourself, things can get overwhelming.
Don’t let the stress of why you’re a single father of twins sour your relationship with your twins.
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)
Your twins are your pride and joy. Focus on the happy moments with them and that will help you plow through the emotions and stress of your situation.
Enjoy the hugs, giggles, and love of your twins and it will put a smile on your face.
Work and Twin Balance
Juggling work and child care can be quite the challenge as a single father of twins. Again, here is where you’ll need to have help. Talk with your boss about flexible work hours so you can drop off or pick up your twins. See if you have friends or family that can help care for the twins in the morning or late afternoon when you have to be at work.
Make your preparations for the day the night before. When everything is ready to go when you wake up, it makes the morning routine go a lot smoother.
If you have daughters, you’ll need to master how to do girls’ hair. Check out Cute Girls Hairstyles on Youtube for easy “Daddy Do’s” that you can handle.
When you’re on a road trip or out with your daughters, it is OK to take them to the Men’s bathroom instead of leaving them alone outside.
Keep calm. Don’t get mad when your twins make a mess. Because, as you know, they will make a mess. Every single day.
The overwhelm you feel will come in cycles. Expect that and recognize it for what it is. Don’t despair!
Don’t compare yourself to other parents. Your situation is different than them. Their perfect family on Facebook actually is full of problems behind the scenes.
Don’t worry about things that don’t get done. There will be plenty of things that get dropped. Just don’t drop your twins.
Focus on the good things and the happy moments and you’ll make it one day at a time.
Before you know it, your twins will be self sufficient and your burden will be lighter.
Hang in there, Dad! You can do this!
Original photo by John Anes