In case you hadn’t heard, having twins requires all hands on deck. Mom and dad need to be actively engaged in all aspects of childcare. There really isn’t a way around that.
Our first two boys, as singletons, were born one at a time. As a dad, I tried to help as much as I could. However, since my wife was breastfeeding, my ability to help during the night was limited to changing a diaper and bringing a baby to my wife for nursing.
With twins, however, everything changed.
In retrospect, I realized that I coasted along with our first two sons. With twins, I had to step it up.
Fathers of twins can (and should) help with all aspects of raising twins. While mom can care for the twins alone, it isn’t easy. Dad, your helping hands will be greatly appreciated.
Where can dad help? Look around and you’ll find plenty of opportunities. Here are just a few:
(RELATED: Still looking for the right twin gear? See my Twin Baby Gear Essentials.)
While we started breastfeeding our twin girls, that just didn’t work out for our family. So eventually we switched to bottle-feeding. This offered me as the dad an opportunity to directly help with feeding.
When I was home, I’d feed one baby and my wife the other (even in the middle of the night). I became the master of mixing up a bottle of formula while in a sleepy stupor and with my eyes half-closed.
Feeding my twins also gave me a great opportunity to bond with each of them. That priceless opportunity and privilege was something I wasn’t expecting but enjoyed immensely.
Look at the twin feeding situation in your home. How can you help with this frequent task?
Getting your twins down to sleep is a multistep routine that doesn’t always go smoothly. Diaper changes, swaddling, and soothing all require effort that is made easier if you are helping.
As your twins get older, they won’t need to wake for feeding during the night. However, this doesn’t mean they won’t still wake up.
(RELATED: Your twins will need a lot of gear. Here's the complete twins baby registry checklist to get ready for your twins' arrival.
You can go into the twins’ room and help get the twins (or just that one stubborn twin) back to sleep.
Once your twins start sleeping through the night, it will be hard for you to get back into the routine of waking up to care for kids during the night. However, sleep regression in your twins will break up your happy slumber. Or, your twins will get sick and you’ll need to care for them during the night.
Step up and work the night shift as needed.
Evaluate your twins’ sleep routines and ask yourself how you can help.
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)
When mom is so busy taking care of the twins, home, and even work, she doesn’t get enough time to take care of herself.
With the demands of twins, you can help mom by giving her time.
Take the kids out of the house, while she gets a break or watch the twins while she gets away.
By taking on some of the burdens yourself, you give mom the opportunity to take the time needed for self-care.
You should have a contest. Can you change more diapers than mom?
Despite the nastiness of diaper changes, it does offer you one on one time with your child. You can talk to her and do something useful at the same time.
From diaper changes to getting your twins dressed, there are plenty of opportunities to help tend to and care for your twins.
Look at the routines of the day and jump in to help.
In the morning this might be changing diapers and getting twins dressed before you go to work.
At night this might be giving them a bath, getting them in their pajamas, and preparing them for bed.
It doesn’t matter how household chores got done before the twins arrived. With twins, you need to step up and help around the house.
During the infant stages of twins, you’ll be so busy caring for twins that your house will suffer.
Then your twins will move into the make-a-mess-everywhere stage. But they are too young to know how or be able to clean it up.
In other words, you’ve got a lot to do around the house. Clean it. Fix it. Tidy it. Put it away.
If you see something that needs to be done, do it.
If you have to walk around something, step over something, or avoid something, odds are pretty good that you should deal with it.
Step it up with household tasks. Mom will thank you and you’ll find a bit of serenity in a more organized and clean home.
Time with Twins
Dad, as the National At-Home Dad Network will remind us, you aren’t a babysitter. You’re a father. A friend. A teacher. Act the part.
Spend time with your twins. Cuddle with them. Play with them. Talk with them.
You need to be active in their lives. This requires time and will require that you reprioritize how you spend your time.
Sports, hobbies, time with friends, and other social obligations need to be reprioritized against your greatest responsibility: being a dad.
You may very well already be actively engaged in the trenches of helping with your spouse, family, and twins. I salute you! You (and many other dads like you) are making a wonderful and positive difference in your loved ones’ quality of life.
As you stay involved and an active participant in this journey, you will see the positive impact you are having on those that matter most: your family.
I talk more about things you can do to help raise your twins in the Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins.
Original photo by Nate Davis