Today is the twins 18-month non-birthday. Its also nearly 4 months to the day that I started being a stay-at-home dad. As such, it seems an appropriate time to recap some of the things I’ve learnt since becoming a dad.
1) The more you give, the more you get
Its cheesey but true. The more you effort you put into playing with, feeding or reading to your children, the more everyone will get from it. One of my main reasons for leaving my job was the amount of time I got to spend with the twins. I would regularly get home an hour before their bedtime, dead tired and have to go through the motions of “playing” with them. Taking this year out has given me the chance to know the twins a lot better. When I go back to work, I know I will hopefully know have to prioritise my time better.
2) Hygiene is no longer an issue
Pre-twins, I used to wash my hands every time I touched a bin. After three months of intensive twin changing, I barely care about washing my hands before eating. Whilst the twins have cured me of an excessive concern about germs, I am beginning to think they may have pushed me a little too far. When Saoirse recently vomited in my face I barely flinched. I heroically prioritised her, cleaned her up, changed her and forgot to wash myself. In 2017, I need to restore some balance on the hygiene issue.
3) Strangers are “interesting”
I have never been one to talk to strangers. With twins, this is unavoidable. The vast majority are very polite and say kind things about the twins. There are, however, always those who go above and beyond in one way or another. On one hand, there was the elderly Muslim lady who jumped in and packed all my shopping for me when she saw I was struggling with Cillian. On the other, is the parade of old ladies who have asked me, apropos of nothing, whether the twins were conceived through IVF. There is, of course, nothing wrong with IVF; it is a wonderful technology. But from what I am told it is often difficult and definitely private.
4) Children have selective hearing
Whilst the twins happily sleep through each other’s crying, if I so much a sneeze in the general vicinity of their bedroom it is enough to send them both into apoplexy.
5) Christianity is a stay-at-home parent’s best friend
Bear with me on this one. I am an atheist and have been for nearly twenty years. I have heard people talk about the role faith groups plays in the community but never understood what they meant until now. We attend four play groups on a regular basis. Three of these are run by church groups. They are cheap, friendly and packed with helpful volunteers. As a dad of twins who regularly struggles to put together his buggy this is a god-send (pardon the pun). Though these groups obliviously have a religious component this is never obtrusive. I cannot recommend trying your local church play group highly enough, even if you have no personal faith.
6) Aldi is the best and worst shop in the world
As a parent, I love Aldi. They not only have a wonderful (and cheap) baby range but also sell superb meat which vastly cuts the price of your weekly food bill. However, their shops often feature cramped aisles and long queues at the till. Running this gauntlet is hell with a double buggy and often leads to me paying the premium to shop elsewhere.
7) Sky Plus is invaluable
With twins, free time is a luxury you rarely get to enjoy. As a couple you may sneak an hour of it in a day during naps or in the post-bedtime, pre-witching hour window. Even this hour may be interrupted by grunts and shuffles from your sleeping angels. As such, Sky Plus or a similar service is worth its weight in gold. Being able to queue up box sets and pause live TV has given me a way to relax now some of my traditional hobbies are temporarily on-hold.
8) ‘Macbeth shall sleep no more’
I did not murder King Duncan. Why is this happening to me?
Our twin do not sleep well. In 2016, my best continuous sleep was six hours. Even this was outlier; I regularly do not sleep for more than three straight hours and rarely get more than six hours a night. I could (and do) moan about this. However, let me focus on one positive: I never before realised the sheer power of the human body. To go with so little sleep for so long and still be alive, never mind functioning, is truly amazing.
9) Women are the stronger sex
Given the above, I regularly mope around the house in the mornings moaning about being tired. My wife, meanwhile, jumps around, jokes with the kids, puts washes on and orders the shopping online. Whilst this is not to say she does not moan about being tired, she certainly copes with it better than I do. Assuming this is true of most couples (which I have been led to believe) its hard to believe patriarchal society managed to sustain its own contradictions for so long given its main beneficiaries struggle to get out of bed.
10) Right now is a wonderful time to have kids
Between Brexit, Trump and England’s woeful Euros campaign, 2016 was a pretty rotten year. However, the 20-teens is a great time to be a dad. My reason for this? The wonderful gizmos we have that lets us capture memories at the touch of a screen. This was not available to our parenst. If this was the 90s, all the pictures on the post may have been consigned to memory alone.