How I Parent: Bravo Star Fredrik Eklund, a Dad of Twins
How I Parent explores the ins and outs of modern day parenting with moms and dads from all over the country, who are raising their own unique families and sharing their best advice and most heartfelt lessons with PEOPLE. Want to be a part of it? Email what makes your family so special to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Fredrik Eklund
Location: New York City
Occupation: Real Estate Broker for Douglas Elliman and Star of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing and Bethenny and Fredrik
Family Situation: Fredrik and husband Derek Kaplan live in New York City with their one-year-old twins, Milla and Freddy Jr. The couple welcomed their twins via surrogate in November, 2017, after two failed attempts with a surrogate who miscarried.
What’s your parenting “philosophy” in a sentence? Being fun. Derek is the opposite. Not that he’s not fun, but he’s the disciplinarian. It works because they get both, but we talk about how he can change to be more fun and I can change to be more disciplinary so they don’t run to me. But right now, the best thing is that I have two best friends. We are like a little trio of fun.
What was your journey to having the family life you have today?
Well, it’s nothing like I expected it to be, it’s much more complex. As all parents – especially parents with twins – would say. I think I had envisioned it to be a little rosy in the beginning, especially because we waited so long. And I had built it up and you know, when you get twins, it’s just really overwhelming at first. I think I was in shock. Now, it’s a whole different level of cuteness. It’s just beyond. They are walking around, they’re talking, they say “Dada, I love you.” It’s actually very hard, very difficult right now to leave them. In the beginning, it was difficult for a different reason because they were so tiny and fragile, and you’re like, I need to protect them as a dad. But now, for selfish reasons, I get so much enjoyment. I laugh so hard and they’re so beautiful, that it’s so difficult to leave them.
For a long time, I held the news with me about the surrogate having miscarriages; I didn’t share it on the show or anything. But then when I shared it, I realized obviously a lot of people go through it, and no one talks about it and very few people are open about it. I think it’s different for us, because it wasn’t my body, but it was still in my heart, very difficult. It is important to talk about it. And it’s so common. People feel shame and it’s so sad. I felt a little of that too. You have all these crazy thoughts: “Is it me, or God, or the Universe? Should I change myself?” I think it’s very natural.
How did your own upbringing influence your parenting style?
When you become a parent, you start thinking a lot of your own parents and your own childhood, and these very strange memories that you didn’t even know you had in your brain come to the surface – your first memories – diapers, and smells. I think a lot more about my parents and my childhood now that I’ve had mine. I think we were just very free, we would run out all night. It was Sweden in the ’80s, we didn’t have any rules. I think because of Derek – which is great – they are going to be more disciplined. That’s a strong, bad word. More structure, that’s a better word. We are starting with activities much earlier. I don’t think I had any activities as a kid, I was just free to go. But we do swimming, and classes and language class and flash cards and reading. Everything, we are doing.
Overall, what would you say is the hardest part of parenting?
For me, this constant feeling of: I can’t be everywhere at once. Especially with them. With two of them, it’s like I want to split myself in two places. Now I feel like I’ve trained myself. So now when I’m there I’m in the moment and I’m really there. And when I’m at work, I know they’re with Derek and they’re happy and I can see photos but I’m really here.
It can be very difficult with twins; I’m just going to be honest, and talk about it. We have help but it doesn’t matter how many nannies you have, because it’s two of them. When you hold one – like, I hold my daughter – you feel full of love, like master of the universe, but then Freddy starts crying. Back then I could hold both, but now I can’t even hold both, and it’s always like juggling – and they’re running in different directions. And they’re also very different, you can’t compare them, they have two dads and the same mom, but they’re also a boy and a girl and have very different personalities. It’s true what they say, it’s double the love, but it’s triple the work. And everyone says ‘Get through the first two years, then you’ll be fine,’ but then you’re five months into it, and it’s not so easy. It’s more rewarding, though.
How do you make time for you and Derek?
I think that’s one thing we’ve been very good at. We’ve been sneaking away. Even at the beginning, after three months, we went to Turks and Caicos. We had so much guilt, like, Are we allowed to do this? Is someone going to call the police or something? They were with Derek’s parents and two nannies and they were totally fine. And we are going to the Maldives just me and him. And that’s going to be very difficult but it’s really good.
It’s also like, you leave them right away you start looking for pictures from them. And all you do is talk about them anyways. But [a spouse is] for life so you gotta keep up with each other.
We don’t have a set date night. I’m very lucky because he’s home and paints and I come home … we are very spoiled because someone cooks for us. I feel like every night in that big penthouse is a date night. It’s on the 62nd floor – I sit there in front of the fire place and look at him. Not in the beginning [with the babies] it wasn’t as romantic, but now it is.