'I must rely on my twin-parent risk assessing skills': TODAY Show's Alex Cullen on life with two toddlers

Alex Cullen with daughters Evie and Audrey. Photos: Instagram
Alex Cullen with daughters Evie and Audrey. Photos: Instagram 

It's Monday, 2.38pm and I find myself at the local playground with my 17-month old twin daughters Evie and Audrey.  My wife Bonnie is at home enjoying a well-earned break and I'm braving the afternoon with the tearaway two. 

This fenced off obstacle-laden patch of ground is both a joyous place for small children to expend their boundless energy but also a dangerous, often crowded combat zone where anything can happen.  Within these gates I'm constantly tested in a seemingly cruel game of risk assessment. 

As one daughter lurches dangerously close to the edge of a raised platform metres off the ground, the other has broken free of my grasp and is running right into the path of an older, heavier child on a swing ready to bowl over anything in his trajectory. 

Photo: Instagram
Photo: Instagram 

I have a choice and must rely on my twin-parent risk assessing skills to not only decide which twin is in the most danger, but how I'm going to stop both, at the same time, from coming a serious cropper. 

I seem to be a step closer to Evie on the raised platform.  It's roughly a one and a half metre drop. That can't be good. But Audrey is at full steam and that kid is in full swing! Evie takes two steps towards the top of the slippery dip away from the precipice giving me crucial seconds to sprint towards Audrey scooping her up before pivoting back towards the slippery dip which Evie is now halfway down, laughing, pointing and now safely at the bottom. 

I let out an almighty sigh. Behind me a grandmother who seems lovely says "you need eyes in the back of your head with those two". "Yes," I reply, "if only". And I ready myself for the next test among many in the coming hours before dinner time.

This is a fairly normal occurrence on any given day as our children eagerly discover the world around them and almost push each other to climb the highest, wade into the water the deepest or run down a steep hill the fastest. Perhaps it's a competitive twin thing. 

All this, mind you, after dad's just finished four hours of live morning television and mum's somehow navigated her way through the mayhem that is the routine of breakfast, nappy changes, two changes of clothes, snacks, dummies, water bottles, more nappy changes before pramming out the door for a walk and a play. Yes, I am willing to admit I have the easier morning and while they are the greatest joys that have ever happened to us, boy do they test us.  

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Life has never been busier and we live in an age where dads have never been more involved in the raising of our children. My grandmother used to marvel at the fact that I was so involved in the routine of raising two baby daughters. It's safe to say my grandfather never changed a nappy, took his young children to a playground or spoon fed them but that was how it was in those days and how times have changed, I believe, for the better. 

But with the added responsibilities of the modern father, often comes added pressures and keeping a healthy mind and body is paramount because no one likes a grumpy dad.  

And that is so often the challenge.To not only be present, but to be patient. To not only be firm, but fun and to somehow find the strength, every day, to be the best parents we can be. I am continually amazed at my wife Bonnie's resilience and patience in charge of that hectic morning routine after I gallivant off to work at 3.50am. 

That word is an important one. Routine.  Without it, we are a lost, bleary eyed cause flailing in the wind, rudderless and exhausted. I'm pleased to say we keep that routine and try to give each other breaks whenever we can. A break is crucial.  A pressure valve released and the chance to recharge and prepare for the next action-packed phase of the day.     

While it may be busy, it is also a beautiful blessing. I sometimes sit and ask myself "Two?! What on earth?!". I live for those cuddles; those laughs and cheeky grins. I sit and crack a smile, take a deep breath and proudly watch our children laugh and play and run. 

Then, I suddenly realise I've left both kitchen and bathroom doors open as the pitter patter of feet quickly career into each. Toilet bowl!  Knives and forks drawer!  Risk assessment! QUICK! 

Alex Cullen is the TODAY Show's Sports Presenter.