I remember this question being presented to me by no less a respected and experienced individual than my own mother. Twins! When their existence in my wife Amy’s womb was confirmed we were overjoyed… as well as more than a wee bit taken aback. We were already parents to an almost three-year-old boy, not to mention navigating the dangerous waters of adolescence with a near 15-year-old girl. We already figured ourselves to be much more than amateurs in the parenting arena, so what surprises could twins possibly present to us, right? Right?
What I kept relatively hidden from my wife and others was that I was truly terrified at this prospect. Having and raising one child at a time is one thing — a difficult task, no doubt, on its own. And while I certainly do not wish to minimize the difficulty parents of single babies encounter, I can only say this: Take everything you deal with on a daily basis, double it, and then throw a three-year-old and a teenager into the mix. When you have successfully handled THAT, get back to me. We’ll talk.
Not a lot is said about what men go through when they become fathers, let alone fathers of multiples. Society, family, and friends tend to lean support to the moms. This is understandable, but short-sighted, as it truly takes a team to successfully manage everything parenting related — a fact that cannot be stressed enough as being key when doing so for twins.
To this end, I have come up with a few things I have found – being more or less specific to being the dad half, mind you – to be integral to the entire twin experience, from the pregnancy time frame up to toddler age. And while I would wager each of these things is applicable to single-baby households as well, those parents need to remember one thing: The single-baby experience pales in comparison to twins because everything, EVERYTHING, needs to be done x2 (x3, or x4, as the case may be…).
Strap in, gentlemen…here we go:
A strong sense of humor will always help you deal with every pitfall, every frustration, every seeming setback. Remember: A pregnant mom is not going to be feeling 100% too often, especially with twins. It is not unusual for women pregnant with twins to be ordered to bed rest for a portion of their time. She needs you to help her get through this period and keeping things light — letting things slide easily off your back — is one of the best ways to do this. Humor may also be all that stands between you and the abyss of insanity after the little demons are born and begin their reign of terror in what had once been you and your lovely wife’s little love nest. Invest in some Goof-Off to handle the crayon streaks on the walls, couches, and carpets, take pictures of all events and post to Instagram to laugh about later (and for future blackmail purposes) and remember: Don’t stress the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff.
This one should really be on the same level as a sense of humor as it is just as important. Before the arrival of these little creatures, you probably felt you and your wife made a pretty good team, right? Maybe you did the yard work, she did the laundry, you both slept in on Sundays and rooted for the same football team, right? Amateurs. You have no concept what it means to truly be a part of a team until you have twins. Sure, having one baby might give you something of a taste of it as each of you really needs to step up your game then. Twins, however, takes that game to an entirely different level, one in which one or both of you may find yourselves outnumbered at any given time or place. For a while, you, as dad, are going to be expected to take on quite a bit more for the team. Suck it up, buttercup. You can handle laundry. You can handle cooking. You can handle double poopy diaper changes and bath time while mom makes the cribs/beds and preps bottles. Remember: With one baby, you might be able to get away with “winging it”; with twins, not so much.
I know, I know. You walk into Costco, arguably to pick up that huge pack of diapers and deals on bulk groceries, complete with a list and a plan…and you are nearly struck dumb by the display of 60”, 70”, and 80” LCD flat screens displayed right in the front (the jerks!) — all tuned to a football game — some available in glorious 3D! It’s almost painful. I know. But you are now the dad of twins; luxuries will come few and far between for a while. Remember: everything you buy that is baby-specific you will need to buy in twos. That can eat into that TV budget. Accept this, walk around the display of TVs, and get those diapers, gentlemen.
This is a big one. The need for patience is all encompassing, carrying over not only to how you handle the little terrorists — er, tiny wonders! — you are accepting into your life now, but in also how you interact with mom. The aforementioned points of Humor, Teamwork, and even Budget fall into this area. Take a breath, count to ten, do whatever you need to do in order to remain on an even keel because not everything you have read in those books mom gave you to study is going to work or even apply. Find what works for you.
How we doin’, pal? Hyperventilating yet? I hope these notes help but, in the end, you are guaranteed to fail with each one of them at any given time. And that’s OK. Nobody is perfect, my friend. We are all figuring it out as we go along. The most important thing to remember – when everyone is rolling their eyes, asking you if you are ready for this, saying things like, “Wow, I don’t know how you do it!”, and talk about the expense and pressure of it all – is that the love and joy you experience is multiplied beyond anything you could have imagined or prepared yourself for.
Enjoy it, gentlemen. It is really pretty awesome.
Sean Patrick Thompson lives in the Central Valley of Northern California and is father to boy/girl twins Keira and Liam and their older brother Devlin as well as being married to his lovely wife Amy for 8 years. He currently works in Silicon Valley as a Technical Writer/Editor and has previously written music and band review articles for The Examiner and other blog sites. Having twins has provided a unique perspective on fatherhood for him and he hopes that sharing this helps other men – both experienced and expecting – to feel more comfortable and have more fun in their roles as dads of multiples.
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Are you a new twin parent? Check out Natalie Diaz’s new book “What To Do When You’re Having Two: The Twin Survival Guide From Pregnancy Through the First Year”, available in stores now!