Raising Twins - A Dad's Perspective
Over dinner one day, Erwin and I casually talked of having him write about his journey so far as a father of twins. He spontaneously agreed and finally found time while up at 30,000 feet to share his perspectives, as you can read below...
I remember very clearly the day we found out about having twins. It was in fact the first scan I could join for after a long business trip. As first time parents, this was all very exciting and a little bit scary at the same time, little did we know what was about to come. The possibility of having multiples has never crossed our minds, it was far beyond probability. At some point during the scan our doctor turned to us and asked - are there twins in your family? We said, no, there aren’t, what exactly do you mean….? This marked the beginning of our fantastic journey as parents of Alexis and Sienna.
Fast forward, our two little girls have turned 20 months and what an amazing ride it has been. Nothing can really prepare you for having twins but there are quite a few things I picked up along the way.
Fitness will not be the same
I did not believe having children will impact my work out regime but it did massively. When the kids were a few weeks I still finished a marathon, fueled by proper training in the months leading up to their birth. What then followed is what every new parent goes through - disrupted nights of sleep, full focus on ‘surviving’ the daily battle of feeding, burping, bottle wash, diaper change, play - rinse and repeat. Spending time on work took up the remaining time/energy left, when it came to sports I just had nothing more in the tank. The good thing about twins is that as father, one can be very involved in everything - it’s essential to share the load but you can’t take turns as with a singleton. Once sleeping patterns got better - after about 10 months - it was easier to schedule exercise in but it had to be planned - no more spontaneous runs or cycles just because the weather was nice! It’s hard work but with discipline it’s possible to get back into shape and fend off the dad bod that tends to creep in at this stage!
Your circle of friends will change
Soon after the initial phase of receiving congratulatory messages and euphoria, you realize that you have now different buckets of friends - those with children (who are also potential future playdates), those without kids who will carry on their lives globe trotting to all the fantastic places on your own bucket list, eating at the latest restaurants in town, and calling you out to join their spontaneous parties after midnight. At this stage you’ll treasure sleep while you can, a totally different rhythm from life as you had it before. And there will be the true friendships where it does not matter whether you’re in a different life stage - it’s important to treasure these and also to make effort to spend time, irrespective of the stress you’re running at home. What I also realized is that we’ve started making acquaintances via our children (and they’re not even two years old) - playground chats, stroller comparisons, and before you know it - you’ve made contact and busy planning the next outings in the park.
It’s not the time to make big life changes
The biggest change just happened to you as you grow into the parenting role day by day. Its already hard to combine work with family and kids stuff. Make sure you don’t plan any other drastic changes to your life. It may not be the perfect time to take up a new career opportunity or job. It will also be hard to pick up a new hobby or interest, or plan on moving house or countries. Keep as many things stable as possible as you battle the initial few months. Disruption will be plenty, and much of it is actually amazing and beautiful as you see you little ones develop day by day. Embrace the fact that your kids are actually making you prioritize and keep focus on what really matters in life.
Become a master of efficiency
This is a very twin specific thing. We were fairly well organized before the kids but twin infants push you to the limits. It’s all about making every task as efficient and routine as possible - from the way you wash milk bottles to how you move your hands when you change diapers, and utilize little resting breaks when kids are sleeping to prepare for tasks ahead. Another important learning was to synchronize their schedules - keep sleeping/eating patterns the same for both, else you’ll literally run out of hours in the day to cope with the work. Every minute counts but once it’s playtime then you’ll also have double the fun (and havoc!)
Be patient until the fun kicks in
This again would be true for every new parent (I believe). If you purely look at the ROI of having a baby, i.e. effort/cost/time vs. return in cuddles/smiles/response, then you have to be patient. For the first 3-4 months the little ones barely come to terms with the stress the world provides for them vs. the dark quiet safety of the mothers womb. You keep working very hard to ensure everything is taken care of but there will be very little at the beginning. Babies will sleep (lots of it), drink (usually not when and how much you want them to), cry (at any time of the day - time zones / circadian rhythm do not matter), and poop (a lot of poop). You need to sort all of that out and not expecting anything in return first. The magic for us came after about 6 months. Now at 20 months it’s crazy fun to interact with them and they’ll show off new skills and tricks almost on a daily basis.
Adapt to their routines but don’t put your life on hold
Naturally the twins are our center of gravity, and everything revolves around them. Its important however not to forget you had a life before children, and while you need to adapt you can still do many things with young children. For example we never stopped going 2x / year to Europe (which involves a 18-20 hour trip - long haul flight, connection flight, car ride). Forget about watching movies on a plane or the fact that holidays are supposed to be relaxing. But we survived and grew stronger! Kids have the ability to adapt and should also learn early what matters for you in life, and become part of it.
A solid foundation will become even stronger
It’s a high stress mission, having twins. High stress means there will be some tensions and disagreements with your life partner along the way. I could see how parenthood can break couples apart if they don’t have each other back. Its important to build out the trust you initially had in each other, respect & understanding the other’s point of view, not taking everything too serious, and making time for each other when time allows, so you don’t slip into becoming providers for your children vs. two people who are in love.
I witness first-hand Erwin's experience above, and yet it was still eye-opening to read all of it. Thank you so much for sharing x