Dads know that parenting is a tough job. Rewarding, but tough. But fathers of multiples - twins, triplets or quads - often feel an exponential increase in the challenge of parenting.
Cliff recently married a sweet lady when both were in their early thirties. She had a son from a prior relationship, and he fell right into fatherhood immediately after they were married. A few months after he was married, Cliff found out his wife was expecting twins.
So in a matter of a year, he went from being single to being the father of three, with twin baby boys.
Cliff experienced what many dads of twins describe as “twinshock,” both when he discovered he would be the father of twins, and when mom and the babies came home from the hospital.
Twins are a ton of work, perhaps more than twice the work required for a single baby. But dads of twins who have figured out how to make it all work often find that the rewards are geometrically greater as well.
So, what are the keys to successfully getting through the transition to caring for twins? Here is some advice from dads who are loving being the father of twins.
Discover the value of routines. Twins are more than twice the work of a single baby because it is much harder to do the same thing twice over and over again. Twice the diapers; twice the feedings; twice the clothes changes. Two car seats everywhere you go.
And because you are often balancing one baby on your lap while working with the other one, it can be really hard. Successful dads suggest that getting into a routine is important. Try to get them on a similar schedule so you are feeding both babies at the same time, changing them at the same time, and putting them down for naps at the same time.
Lower your expectations. Having twins to care for can really sap your energy. So if you have a little more realistic expectation about how clean the house will stay, how much you'll get done on a Saturday, or how long it will take to get places, that can really help you maintain your sanity. Don't try to do it all with the twins; be more realistic about what you expect, and you'll be disappointed less often.
Keep things simple. One mother of twins swears by cooking by crock pot. She loves the idea of getting dinner into the crock pot when the babies are napping in the morning, and not worrying about dinner again until it is time to serve it. She has the concept of keeping meal preparation simple. If you have other children at home, get them going on some simple chores to take some of the burden off you and your partner. It goes a long way to keeping life on an even keel if you make it as simple as you can.
Make time for yourself. Because your partner may be home most of the day with the babies while you are off at work, it will be really important to her for you to take over much the responsibility for the babies in the evenings. She will certainly need time to recharge her batteries emotionally and physically.
And once a week or so, you'll need some time to do the same. Recognizing what you both need, coordinate schedules so you can have some free personal time during the week. An occasional golf outing, a weekly bowling league game, or an occasional sporting event away can be a great help to maintaining your perspective.
Make some one-on-one time with the twins. Too often, parents of twins tend to think of them as "the twins" rather than as individuals. Making some time to spend with each of the twins one-on-one can help you see them more as individual children and not just as part of the twins. Look for and discover their individual quirks and characteristics.
Stay healthy. Making time for a little exercise, even with the babies, will pay big dividends. Investing in a double stroller than you can push around the block while you walk or jog will help you stay fit.
And try to eat right - lower carbs, lower sugars, and more protein will help you keep your physical and mental edge as a dad of twins.
Connect as a couple. Any new parents can have a hard time finding time to stay connected to each other; it is even more challenging for parents of twins. But make sure you take the time for a regular walk together (babies in the stroller), for a night out or a “night in” (with a movie and some snacks), or other diversions to keep you communicating and together.
Acknowledge that you'll make mistakes and learn from them. No parent is perfect; there will be times you screw up. Dads can often get distracted and forget something important about one of the children. It's important not to beat yourself up about little mistakes. Accept that you're human and move on.
Being a dad of twins is hard work - there is no mistaking that. But it is hugely rewarding as you find ways to make it work, keep your sanity and have fun in the process.