Friday, October 07, 2005

First year with twins. A father's POV

My twins are well past the one year old mark, but I wanted to take an opportunity to speak to all the new twin fathers out there and give some friendly advice. So here it is...

People always ask my wife and I: “How did you ever do it with two babies? I just can’t imagine it”. My answer is always the same…we just do. We just do what needs to be done. Yes, it’s hard, and yes, it’s exhausting, and yes, it’s stressful. But we find a way to get the things done that need to be done.

And that is the key, finding a way that works for you and your spouse. I’ve listed some things in this article that have worked for us, maybe you can use some of the same things to help you through the first year.

Get into a routine
I can’t stress this one enough. In my opinion, this is the most important thing during the first year if you’ve two or more babies under the age of one at home…get everyone into a routine and stick to it. Feed them at the same time, change diapers at the same time, put them down for naps at the same time, put them to bed at the same time. If you feed them at the same time, you always know when they have been fed last. You won’t be wondering, “who did I just feed?” And you WILL be asking those kinds of questions, trust me. (Also, if you put them down for a nap at the same time, you can take sleep yourself! – Sleep? I’ve heard of this, this is one of those urban legends right? No, it does exist for new parents, but, keep in mind that I’m not saying that you can sleep as much as you did before you had children -- those days are LONG gone my friend -- but try and get as many hours of quality sleep in a row as you can)

If you don’t get into a routine like this, you will always be feeding a baby, or changing diapers, or trying to get one of them to fall asleep. It won’t be long and you’ll be worn out, because there’s always be something to do. It’s a vicious circle.

Divide and Conquer
For those guys who are out there that still believe it’s a woman’s job to take care of the baby, that’s just not going to work with twins. If you expect your wife to feed the babies, dress them, give them baths, change all of the diapers, put them down for naps, she’s going to be very tired and very irritable (and not PMS irritable – multiply the WORSE you have ever seen your wife’s moods by 200 and you STILL won’t be anywhere close. You know the saying, “when mom’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy”, Truer words have never been spoken)

So guys…get used to helping out. That includes helping out with the babies and around the house. Don’t be afraid to change a diaper, make a bottle, do the dishes, mop the floor. In fact, it’s even better if you do these things without being asked or told to do them first. Trust me, it will be easier on everyone. Having two babies at one time is very time-consuming and there are always lots of things to do. Pitch in and your marriage as well as the babies will reap the benefits.

Make time for yourself
As anyone with kids can tell you, once in awhile you just need to get away and have some time for yourself. As much as you love your kids, sometimes you need time without them, it doesn’t mean you love them any less, you just need a little break. My wife and I are both pretty flexible when it comes to allowing each other some time away. I don’t mind when she goes to a movie with her sisters, or goes with her friends to a Mom of Twins Club meeting. She gives me the same freedom to play golf or go smoke a cigar at the cigar store once in awhile with my friends.

As long as neither one of you take it to an extreme, you should encourage each other to do it.You also need to make sure you work in some time where you and your spouse spend time together without the kids. Don’t feel guilty about it…think of it as a sanity check! My wife and I try and get one of our parents or siblings to watch the kids once in awhile while we go out for dinner or even for a weekend away. However you do it, just make sure you and your spouse make some time for each other without the kids.

The house just isn’t going to be as clean
Before my wife and I started having kids, we were both kind of anal about keeping the house spotless, straightened up, and things just so (okay, truthfully, that was more of my wife's ideal. Me, I'm happy as long as there are no killer dust-bunnies lurking around). It hasn’t been that way for quite awhile now…and you know what, it just doesn’t matter. Suck it up and live with it.

Our house is usually a mess, the dishes don’t get done as soon as they used to, and I don’t cut the grass whenever I see a blade of grass higher than another. With all of the responsibilities that go with having children, especially under the age of one, you just won’t have as much time as you used to.

I’m not na├»ve enough to think that these will work for everyone, but they worked for my wife and I, and I hope they’ll (at the least) give you a heads-up on how to deal with the joy of having two (or more) kids at one time.

If not, everyone says that practice makes perfect, so try for another set of twins…you’re bound to get it right eventually.

Thought of the Day

“In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”

– The Narrator in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy