The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Saving my Sanity

One of my favorite simple life bloggers wrote a post titled “Seven things saving my sanity right now”. Life has been pretty hectic around here lately, so I read it with great interest. None of them really applied to me though, so I kept thinking I needed to write my own post like that! Except, I couldn’t come up with one thing saving my sanity much less seven. I kind of hated that so I took a different tact and tried to figure out what was driving me mad.

Here’s the deal. I’m an introvert. I’m very social at work, partly because I really do like people and partly because I’m a project manager and that’s my job. Then I come home to two very chatty 8-year-olds who want to tell me about their day (and I want to hear about it!). I very much need my downtime after they go to bed to recharge. I need peace and quiet, where I can just hang out and watch tv and not talk.

The girls go to bed somewhere around 8:30. They can read until 9:00pm, then it’s lights out. But like they have since they moved to big girl beds, they come out of their room approximately 1,239,283,331 times per night. I need a hug, I need water, I need to give Annie a kiss, I need to go to the bathroom. It is nonstop. And lately! They are not even asleep when I go to bed at 10:30 and want to come to bed with me where they continue to talk to me and the dogs while I try to read. It’s maddening and exhausting. Without this time to recharge at night I am a beast during the day. When my team commented on it at work, I knew I needed to do something about it.

So I’m reclaiming my evenings. Bedtimes are back to 8:15. They get a little more reading time, I get a little more me time. They have been told not to come out of their room unless someone is bleeding. So far, eh. They’ve been staying in their rooms better, but this week one of them has been awake every night when I go in to check on them before going to bed. I know they’re exhausted, so I think earlier bedtimes will help everyone, we just need to get there.

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Bedtime

The girls’ bedtime has long been 8:00pm. It’s rare that I actually get them both into bed by that time, but that’s the time we shoot for. On the weekends it’s frequently 9:00pm or even 9:30pm. Either we’re watching a movie, or there are s’mores to be roasted, there always seem to be good reasons to stay up late. But, they also sleep in later on the weekends, which makes up for the late nights at least a little.

Since we rarely hit 8:00pm, I’ve been wondering if I should just call it and say their bedtime is 8:30pm. But here’s the thing, once they’re in bed it’s MY TIME. I get to watch my shows, I get to browse the internets, I get to read my book. If I let them stay up later, it seriously cuts into my down time and as an introvert, that down time is precious and necessary.

Here’s the other thing. My kids don’t want to get up in the morning. It’s rare that they get up on their own, I generally have to wake them at 7:30am. And then it’s like waking a teenager. Delaney does not like getting out of bed.

On top of all of those things, we’ve had a few meltdowns in the evenings. I think it’s a combo of first weeks of school, allergies, and too many late nights, but it’s clear they are tired and in need of sleep.

Boring story longer, we’re sticking with the 8:00pm bedtime and possibly even making a stronger effort to actually enforce it.

**When should I actually be looking at moving it to 8:30pm? High school?

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Can’t keep them apart

When the girls were younger I would occasionally find them snuggled in bed together. They both have frequent nightmares, and their sister snuggling in with them was the best antidote to that. I would let them fall asleep that way, then separate them when I went to bed.

When we got the bunk beds they started falling asleep together more and more often. Separating them was not easy! They always fall asleep on the top bunk together, and hauling Caden down the ladder was never easy. Still, there were just as many nights in their own beds as there were nights together.

Finally I just let them sleep together all night. The bunk is more than big enough, why not? One night when I checked on them there arms were linked together. How adorable! The next morning they told me they did that so I couldn’t separate them. I can take a hint.

When Caden broke her collar bone we had an Issue. They couldn’t sleep together, it wasn’t safe. The first two nights Delaney could not fall asleep. Caden was out within minutes, but Delaney had to come downstairs with me until she was exhausted, only then she was able to fall asleep by herself. After a week I let them fall asleep together in Caden’s bunk, but would transfer Delaney up to her bunk when I went to bed. The thing Caden was most excited about when she got her sling off was sleeping with Delaney in the top bunk.

For the most part, I try not to fight this. Occasionally I can tell they are really tired, and I’ll enforce separate beds. On those nights, it never fails that one or both of them ends up in my bed though! They have such a need to be close to someone while they sleep. I do wonder, is that a twin thing? An identical twin thing?

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Sleep again?

I got an email yesterday afternoon from Delaney’s teacher.  It said that she had had a very off day and was having trouble listening and focusing.  She even had to sit in the time out chair!  Yikes!  This is so, so unlike Delaney.  I don’t think she ever got a time out while at daycare.  She was the teacher’s helper!  But, I’ve been noticing that she has trouble listening (then again don’t all 5-year-olds?) and her focus for me has never been the best.

The thing with my kids is that they generally hold it together very well at school.  All emotions, all bad behaviors come out at home.  So if they’re having trouble keeping it together at school?  Something is wrong.

Knowing Delaney, that something is likely sleep.  Every night Caden begs to sleep with Delaney because she is so terrified of having nightmares or hearing strange noises.  While Delaney may hold out for a bit, she usually invites her up, so it isn’t like she isn’t a part of things.  The problem is, with both of them in the same bunk, they stay up way later than they would if separated.  They also wake each other up during the night.  When I go to bed I’ll often drag Caden back down to her bed, but when they’re sleeping together every single night, I kind of just left them be.

Clearly, that was the wrong course of action.  And so, we’re back to a focus on sleep again.  Not that there ever really was a moment when that wasn’t a focus, but you know.  Hopefully this weekend we can work a nap in, and get everyone closer to good again.

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We’re screwed aren’t we?

The girls’ bedtime is 8:00pm. That’s when they go to bed, when they actually fall asleep is anyone’s guess. There are plenty of times they are asleep by 9:00pm, but there are other nights when I’m going to bed at 10:30pm and they are coming out of their room to chat me up. I’ve never loved how late they fall asleep, but as long as they’re quiet I try to stay out of it.

When we stayed at my brother’s house I had a bit of an epiphany. His kids go to bed at 8:00pm and are asleep by 8:15pm. Not a peep from them! (They’re also in bed alone, without a sister to laugh and tell stories with.) But they get up at 6:15am. I prefer not to wake at an hour that begins with a 6, and neither do my kids. I usually wake them at 7:30am if they aren’t already up. So of course if they sleep an hour later in the morning, they’re going to fall asleep an hour later at night. A ha!

It doesn’t help that the girls nap more days than they don’t. Caden has a lot of anxiety about falling asleep right now, so by the time nap time rolls around she’s out like a little light, which only perpetuates them falling asleep super late at night. It’s a vicious cycle right now.

I figured naps would taper off as kindergarten got closer. Instead we are in the opposite situation. I told Delaney the other day that in kindergarten, she wouldn’t get to nap. Her response? “That’s why I’m getting all my sleep now!”

Daycare is very willing to work with us, and we’ll be shortening up naps in August, switching to rest time only the last two weeks. I just worry that kindergarten is going to absolutely wear them out, and they’ll be complete messes every night until they adjust. Then again, maybe being forced away from naps will finally adjust their schedules enough that they’ll fall asleep at a normal time at night.

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Who’s on top?

Before the bunk beds arrived, both girls talked a big game about who was going to take the top bunk. But, I knew it would not be so easy. Caden gets up in the middle of the night fairly frequently and crawls into bed with me. She is never to rarely actually awake when she does this. Do I want a half asleep girl trying to navigate a top bunk and ladder? No, no I don’t. And so Delaney was awarded the top bunk.

Once the bunks were set up Delaney very excitedly crawled up there. Wouldn’t you know it, a spider was crawling along the ceiling, right above their beds and she spotted it. She freaked out. I couldn’t believe it! First time up there and she spots a spider!

The first night she talked her sister into the top bunk to keep her company. Before when they would sleep together I would separate them when I went to bed. Can’t do that anymore! They woke up at 2am crying and came into bed with me.

Night #2 was perfection. Delaney slept on top, Caden slept on the bottom. All night. They even took two hour naps in their bed on Saturday. I thought we were over the hump!

And then came Saturday night (#3). Delaney tried to talk Caden into taking the top bunk. Caden agreed for a brief moment, and then freaked out. But, Delaney still wanted to sleep on the bottom bunk, so they snuggled up there and fell asleep. When I went to bed I did everything I could to scoot both of them closer to the wall to no avail. At 2am Delaney fell out, bonked her head, and everyone came into bed with me. Oops.

I knew this ‘Who’s going to sleep on top?’ thing was not going to work so I took Delaney aside and told her I really needed her to claim the top bunk as her own. If she did this, we’d work something out for every time she stayed in her bed all night. ‘Like Starbucks?’ Sure. Sunday night was perfection again, with both of them sleeping all night in their own beds. I’m hoping this is all worked out now, and we can all get back to sleeping peacefully.

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Possibly Delusional

Our bedtime routine is in a fairly good groove right now. The girls go to bed at 8:00pm, and they chat until somewhere between 8:30 – 9:30pm when they fall asleep. Bedtime is always a hot topic on the multiples board. Some parents sit in their kids rooms until they fall asleep to ensure no nighttime shenanigans. My stance has always been that they need to figure out on their own when and how to fall asleep. At age five, I cannot be monitoring that. Also, I want them to enjoy the joys of sharing a room with their sister. The chatting, the playing, the giggles. It’s all part of the fun. So as long as they stay in their room, I stay out of it.

Vacation threw us off our groove for a few weeks, but we are back on track now. Except now I’m going to throw bunk beds into the mix. I’m really not sure how this will go. If I had to guess, I would say bedtime will be awesome for the first few weeks and then slowly disintegrate until we find our new normal. I bought them clip on lamps so they can read in bed, and I’m guessing the beds will be so novel that they won’t get out at first.

But then what? We have had many talks about how once you’re in the top bunk, you don’t get down. Especially in the dark. (Side note: The twinkle lights are gone. Just after we got back from vacation Delaney dared her sister to bite one. She did, it broke, the twinkle lights came down for good.) At least in the beginning Delaney will get the top bunk because she generally sleeps all night. Caden very frequently gets up in the middle of the night and wanders sleepily into bed with me. In the morning she rarely remembers doing this, which means girlfriend bought herself the bottom bunk. I do not need that kid negotiating a ladder half asleep.

So will they love their big new beds so much they won’t come out of their room anymore? Because that would be awesome. They don’t come out often anymore, but I would love it if they really stayed in their room from now on. I’m even fine if they stay up reading books in bed. Be a bookworm! I just don’t want to end up in the ER because someone missed their sister and needed to climb up/down the ladder to get to her.

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More light!

twinkle

You can tell by the questions the girls are asking that their world is big right now. Big is daunting, especially for Caden.

Most nights Delaney seems to fall asleep before she does. This is when she gets really anxious, she doesn’t like being the only one awake in their room. She used to try to come down to watch tv with me, but I decided that was a bad habit and we stopped doing it. Then she started turning on the lamp in their room. I would say at least three nights a week I come upstairs and the lamp is on.

The lamp works for her, but it isn’t ideal. We needed something that threw off more light than a nightlight, but less light than a lamp. Twinkle lights! Unfortunately, I didn’t have a string of plain twinkle lights, I only had icicle lights. We strung them around their shelves, but Delaney already has ideas of hanging them at the ceiling. We are still in the trial phase, so ceiling lights will have to wait until I decide if this is a permanent solution. (The lights get unplugged when I go to bed, so they’re only on for a few hours.)

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Putting it all together

I was treating Delaney’s sleep deficit and Caden’s scary dreams as two separate things, when really they were very much tied together. I realized this very clearly the other night.

It was 10:00pm and the girls had been quiet, so I assumed they were asleep. Except, when I got upstairs I could hear them talking. I went into their room to find out what was going on and Delaney immediately started sobbing on her bed “But Caden wanted me to snuggle with her! I just want to sleep!” The next night I checked on them even earlier. I knew Laney was exhausted and I wanted her to get some sleep. Once again she started crying “Caden keeps talking and I just want to make her happy!”

Without a nap during the day, Delaney was falling asleep within 15 to 30 minutes of going to bed. Except now, Caden is afraid to go to sleep because she thinks she’ll have bad dreams, so she chats up her sister and keeps her awake. I refuse to sit in their room or intervene too much, so we talk a lot about letting our sister sleep, and having good bedtimes. I’m also keeping an eye on the clock and checking in on them if I think the shenanigans aren’t shutting down.

Caden has had two nightmare free nights, so I’m hoping that will give her some sleep confidence. She’s also slept in her own bed both of those nights, so I took her to Starbucks as a reward. Of course I have early morning meetings coming up, as well as a babysitter one night, so I’m sure our upward trend will get tripped up soon.

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Scary Dreams

My girls have had nightmares for ages. They come and go. I’m sure if I really tracked them I would notice if more activity or food or something possibly triggered them, but these days that seems a futile task since they are seemingly happening every night.

Nightmares trigger two things for my kids. First, they end up in bed with me because they’re scared. Second, they don’t want to go to sleep the next night. So often I hear “I’m scared to go to sleep! I have bad dreams as soon as I close my eyes!” I’ll be honest, very often I write this off as a procrastination attempt.

girls in bed

The past two nights when I checked on the girls, I found them both snuggled up in Caden’s bed. This has never happened before (they’ve snuggled together in my bed, but never crawled together into one of their beds) and I thought it was so cute! When I asked Caden about it in the morning she said she was scared, so Laney crawled into her bed to keep her company.

So here’s my question. Is there anything I can do? Because a) I’m tired of sharing my bed with both of them every night and b) if there is a way I can make them feel safer in their room I obviously want to do that. Caden claims her nightmares are of Monsters. Delaney is vague. They don’t think there are monsters in their room, but they are scared to close their eyes because they will instantly fall into a bad dream.

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