Remember the joy you felt learning you were pregnant?
Well, imagine how you would feel if you were having TWINS!
This week in Twinsburg, Ohio, they've been celebrating the wonder that is twins, so we're celebrating here on Crafty by Nurture with the lovely Keir, actor, husband to Claire, and father to 2 year old Dylan and Scott.
Tell us about your boys...
K: Well, Dylan is more sociable, gets involved quicker, whereas Scott is more reserved initially. Once he feels comfortable though, he's just as gregarious as Dylan. They do take it in turns to egg one another on, but overall they really are very affectionate and placid. I think this is because of their close, nurturing 'attachment parenting' start to life. They feel content because we're there for them.
What is the hardest thing about having twins?
K: I don't know, I've got nothing to compare it to! The hardest thing, I guess, because we've got twins is that it's non-stop; as soon as you change one nappy, then there's another! There is very little downtime.
How do you find being a stay-at-home dad?
K: One thing I'm very aware of is that I'm very fortunate. I'm the coordinator for the York NCT Dad's group that meets once a month and you realise how little some of the other dads get to spend with their children, maybe the odd half an hour of an evening after work. Me being at home, this bond it's generating between me and my boys is amazing. That said, it is frustrating not being able to pursue my career as an actor. I'm sure that's not exclusive to stay-at-home dads, but it can be difficult not to resent your children. No one tells you how much you have to stop pursuing your own things, but then you look at them, your heart melts; it's such a bonus.
I do feel guilty that Claire can't be at home as much as me though, but to have the opportunity to be with Dylan and Scott is great.
How do you share responsibilities with Claire?
K: I suppose that's one of the things with twins is that you can't just say 'Right, they're yours now!', as there's always something to do, but it does seem like I'm the main nappy changer!
I do try to make sure Claire has quality time with the boys; cuddling up on the 'milky chair' whilst I cook tea. I like her to have the fun stuff with them because she's not there during the day. Bathtime is shared however, because you need two pairs of hands. I feel like I don't stop!
Claire also tandem feeds which can be difficult when they boys interfere with one another; one will push the other off or they'll both want the same breast, so it's tricky. Mainly because one sees what the other has and thinks 'Hey! I want some of that!'
How has becoming parents changed your relationship with your partner?
K: To be honest, it has changed it totally and not necessarily for the better. I think having children is stressful because of all the things I've mentioned are tied in to any frustrations you have with your partner. Having children acts as a magnifying glass for any problems you have.
You find that you just can't resolve issues because you don't have a chance to sit and talk because the children are around. Either that, or when they're asleep, you're tired out and therefore can't have a rational discussion.
It's been tough and it IS tough, but it ultimately will bring you closer together. You share the most beautiful things but also the frustrations.
What is your favourite thing to do purely for yourself?
K: This is not typical for me, but I have to say that at the moment, it is going to a pub and having a pint of beer and just doing nothing! Just chilling. I mean, there are so many other things, theatre, pictures, but if you give me an hour, I will go to the pub and have a pint in a beer garden, next to a river.
What is the worst parenting moment you've experienced?
K: I hate it when they get to the tantrum point, where they have a total meltdown. That is so difficult as there's nothing you can do other than try to be with them, when you actually sometimes want to put them down and walk away. I think that you can't help feeling some of that emotion yourself, it's natural empathy, but as an adult you have to really control that anger. Smacking isn't good, it has nothing to do with the control of the child, it's a release of YOUR anger and frustration.
What springs to mind when you think of one of your favourite parenting memories?K: There's a few but particularly the most beautiful was when the boys were in the bath together and it was the first time they kissed and cuddled without any prompting from us; they did it because they wanted to. Your heart does burst, you can't describe it any other way. So beautiful.
The bottom line though is hearing them laugh, there is nothing better than the sound of your children laughing.
What are the best, and worst, pieces of parenting advice you've been given?
K: The best was from our Steiner baby group. So much boiled down to letting the child do things for themselves and not rushing them or forcing them. Don't worry if they're not walking, if they're not talking, they'll get there, just allow them to find their own time.
The worst is 'Tummy Time' - They don't need it! All it does is frustrate them lying on their tummy, unable to get out and it upsets you because they're crying and unhappy. They say it's building strength but they'll get there when they're ready. Leave them on their backs. Sit back, just watch them. They don't need to be in positions that they wouldn't normally find themselves.
What gem of knowledge would you pass on to a new parent? What would you say?
K: You fool! (laughs) Enjoy it. It's going to be hard, you're going to be tired, it's frustrating but it's so beautiful; try and enjoy it.
What have you found most surprising on your parenting journey?
K: The one thing you can't be prepared for is how tiring it is. Not just lack of sleep when you're being woken up every other hour when they're babies, but also at this toddler stage when you're running around after them! It was a big surprise!
And finally, if you could change one thing about to the world today to make it better for your children, what would it be?
K: That's so difficult! The world is what it is, and I think it is an amazing, incredible place, and human beings are an amazing animal. If I could banish anything though, it would be selfishness. If people are pushing in front, or not opening doors or parking poorly, then it's not thinking of others. It's a pet peeve of mine.
That, and I'd banish the Tories.
|Photograph used with Keir's permission|
"There are two things in life for which we are never truly prepared: twins."
Many thanks to Keir for letting us interview him!
Many thanks to Keir for letting us interview him!