From birth on, my twins have always been attached at the hip. As infants, we kept them on a strict schedule to make sure they were always eating, napping, playing, etc. at the same time. Now, as toddlers, they spend their time in the same preschool class or at home with their Grandmothers. Extra curricular activities, like soccer or swimming, they are together. If one is sick, they demand to both go to the doctor and stay home from school. If my daughter wants to go to the nail salon, her brother wants to tag along. If my son wants to dig in the sandbox, his sister will get just as dirty. They have the same friends and get invited to the same birthday parties.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that my twins are close! I hope their bond continues into adulthood. There are some times, however, that I am starting to think that they could use some independence. (I could fill a whole other post on this topic!). One of those times is when considering separating their bedrooms. We are lucky enough to have the space for individual rooms, but when we bring it up to the twins it’s as if we’re punishing them! Where they see it as a form of punishment, my husband and I see it as a much-needed reprieve from their nightly battles!
This brings me to why sharing a room…. how do I say it nicely… poses some challenges? Though they may be attached at the hip, they couldn’t be more different personality-wise. My daughter loves her sleep and would prefer to get in bed early and stay asleep late into the morning. My son, on the other hand, fights sleep tooth and nail. Every night he comes up with a million excuses to delay bedtime. Every morning, he counts down the minutes on his “okay to wake” clock and proudly exclaims at 7:30 a.m. on the dot, “Mommy, the clock is green!” He often prevents his sister from sleeping, thus leading to fights.
I’m sure most of you have seen the twin terror videos on YouTube where the siblings tear their room apart late into the night. On the occasions that my daughter is not sleepy, their room at bedtime can be mistaken for the Royal Rumble! Pillow fights, bed jumping contests, you name it! If they are not fighting, they are engaging in imaginative play…which I love… although not at 9 p.m. at night! They have set up a sleepover with their babies in the middle of the room. Often the day bed becomes a cave, under which they hide out from pretend monsters. I have even seen them, resourcefully, stack all their pillows next to the dresser to climb up and gather my daughter’s hair bows, with the goal of setting up a make-believe bow shop.
Life would be a lot easier (and quieter) if we separated them now. However, neither they, nor I, am ready to take the plunge! I know they won’t always want to be together and it feels wrong to discourage their bond. In the meantime, here are a few tips that have worked in keeping a peaceful and restful house.
Hold onto Those Cribs!
If one or both of your kids still sleeps in a crib, for the love of God, keep it that way! We waited until the last possible day to transition our twins into toddler beds.
Lock the Door
This may not be a popular option, but in our household it’s what works best. We’ve weighed all the pros and cons and decided to place this safety cover on the door knob so they can’t get out without assistance. We still use a monitor to view their room at night and are aware of every move they make. Should there be an emergency, we’ll hear them right away.
Okay, I know most parents already know the value of a good bribe, but we find them especially useful at bedtime. “If you want to go to Johnny’s birthday party tomorrow, stay in your bed!”
Clear the Room
This is something I struggle with daily as we are always accumulating new stuff! Our twins sleep better in a bare bones room. Too many toys offer too many distractions!
I really do feel like they sleep better on bath nights. Although it’s not possible every night, it helps them feel sleepy.
Dropping Mid-Day Naps
This is probably the biggest piece of advice I can give! On no-nap days, when they are totally exhausted, we can get the twins asleep around 7 p.m. If they took a nap, they may be up playing in their room until 9 or 10 o’clock at night! Of course, every child is different, but we found that our twins were ready to drop their nap right around 3 years old.
Even with all of these tips, bedtime is a challenge! As the twins approach their 4th birthday, we will start thinking about separating their rooms. As any parent will tell you, it’s always something! I’m sure I will soon be yelling, “Get back to your own room!” as they sneak in to see one another!