When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions,
it’s our job to share their calm,
not join their chaos.
~ L.R. Knost
This is the second part of a two-part series on the trouble – and blessings – of twins.
Double the Trouble: Part One of a two-part series on the trouble – and blessings – of twins.
I set my alarm for 5:30. At 4:00 I turned it off. I have no reason to get up early, except to take advantage of the early morning hours, before the kids get up. I didn’t reset it. I would get up when my husband got up. That way, I’d have fifteen minutes to myself before I have to get my 11-year-old up and make his lunch.
We overslept. I never even heard his alarm go off. All of a sudden, he flew out of bed with a start. I immediately thought, “Oh no. My 11-year-old missed the bus. I don’t want to drive him in!”
“What time is it?” I asked.
“Seven,” my husband answered.
Oh, well, that’s not so bad, I thought with relief.
“I overslept,” he says, planting a little smooch on my forehead. “But it was the best sleep I got all night.”
Every time I make plans to get up early, I end up staying up all night. I should just get things done at night, while the house is asleep, and then sleep in a bit during the morning, huh? I was listening to a pod cast yesterday, and this gal stated she “gets up early – around 7:30, 8:00 and gets started writing right away”. I laughed! That’s early? But then I learned she stays up until two or three in the morning. Although I would never willingly stay up that late, I did have her beat last night!
My husband and I watched Breaking Bad (we are hooked!) until almost ten. And then we resisted the urge to watch another. I visited with my 17-year-old a bit about his college assignments and then hit the hay. Thank God I did.
I went to bed early (11:00 to 11:30 is normal for me) so that I could get up early. I was grateful I went to bed early. The first couple of hours and the last couple of hours is all the sleep I got. And sadly, I wish I could say this wasn’t normal, but it has been known to happen at our house a lot. Not every night. Not even every week. But definitely at least once a month. To those of you with twins out there, sorry. To those of you with twins and a preschooler, well, Good Luck.
Here’s a fun little outline of my night: 🙂
12:30 The three-year-old woke up and crawled in to bed with us. I got up and put a pull-up on him. No way was he sleeping in my bed with underwear on! I hopped back in to bed. Got all nice and comfy with him. He asked for a drink. I got out of bed, got him a cup of water.
20 minutes later…… Baby B wakes up. I haven’t fallen back asleep yet, but I ask my husband to get him. I was just up with the three-year-old, after all. He gets up, slowly. By the time he gets there, Baby B is in a full blown cry.
I find out later that Baby B threw a temper tantrum. Dad put him down on the living room carpet and just let him cry it out. This woke up Baby A. 🙁
I get up with Baby A. Restart his music. Cuddle and rock him in his bedroom to three songs, then lay him back in his crib awake. He goes back to sleep.
Dad returns Baby B to his crib – awake, but calm – a bit later.
20 minutes later…… Baby B cries again. Dad gets up again. Rocks him again. Lays him back down again.
20 minutes later…… Baby B cries again. I got up with the three-year-old and Baby A. My husband got up with Baby B twice. We were even now, so it was my turn. I gave him the run-down:
Did you change his diaper? Yes.
Did you give him Ibuprofen? No.
Did you numb him up? No.
So I got Baby B up again, gave him Ibuprofen, numbed up his little mouth (he is teething….just the two canines on the bottom – otherwise, he has a full mitt of teeth!), got him a cup of water, and rocked and cuddled him for a bit. His spill-proof sippy cup leaked all over me, but I was too tired to change my shirt. I assumed his jammies were wet, too. But he had his little hands wrapped around that cup and it was cuddled up next to him. Oh well. If he woke up again, I’d take care of it. In to bed he went.
20 minutes later……. Baby B cries again. By now it is 3:00 in the morning. We have been up since 12:30. Screw taking turns – my husband has a long drive to work in the morning. I’m losing my patience. I tell my husband that Baby B is going to have to cry himself to sleep. I go in there, turn his music on and stand with him a bit by his crib. He immediately stops crying. I whisper to him that he has to go nu-night. He wails. I quickly and sheepishly put him in his crib and duck out before Baby A wakes up to see me. If I’m not there, Baby A will go right back to sleep. If he sees me, I lost the game.
I carry the three-year-old, who has been tossing and turning all night in my bed, back down to his bed. He will sleep better there. By the time I get back up, Baby B has stopped crying.
I crawl in to bed. “That was easy,” my husband says.
“Yes,” I answer. I’m suspicious.
For the next 40 minutes…… Baby B fusses, whines, and cries periodically. He starts and stops. I listen for a while. He eventually starts crying loud enough that I can’t lay in bed and listen. I head to my old stand-by: the laundry room. I like to shut myself in there, switch over the laundry, and fold clothes while the twins cry in the middle of the night. That way it isn’t so torturous for me – I can’t hear them over the noise of the machines.
Only, there is no clothes to fold! What?!? I am always behind on laundry!! I groan in frustration, switch over the wet clothes from the washer in to the empty dryer, and put a new load in the washer.
I then go get Baby B. I give him gas drops, just in case. I walk through the house, through the living room, pointing out that everyone is going nu-night. “Shhh…..” I say. I show him outside. “See, it’s dark,” I say, “It’s nu-night time.” He babbles something and I immediately discourage him, “Shh…. Nu-night time”. I put my fingers to my lips, “Shhhh…..” I change his diaper, just in case it is uncomfortable, and check his jammies. They aren’t wet in the diaper area. I check up by his neck. Yep, it is slightly wet from his sippy cup. Normally I’d change that. But tonight, I decide he can tough it out. After all, I’m still wet from his sippy cup too, and I’m quite fine. I rock him. Again.
The lull of the washer and dryer hypnotizes me. Pretty soon I hear heavy breathing from Baby B. I guess it hypnotized him too. I put him in his crib and cover him and Baby A up. I return to bed.
It’s 4:00. I turn my alarm off. I drift in and out of sleep for who knows how long, because Baby B still fusses and wines a bit. But he never actually wakes up crying again.
My biggest worry, during nights like this, especially if I am letting them cry themselves to sleep, is that they are sick. I envisioned Baby B puking all over me while I was rocking him. You know? They can’t tell you what is keeping them from sleeping. We have to guess at it. So I numb him, I give him Ibuprofen, gas drops, water, change his diaper in case it’s wet or uncomfortable, check his jammies to make sure they aren’t wet, cover him up, etc. but I can never tell if he has a queasy tummy, or a headache, or the chills, or a body ache, or his ears hurt, etc. So it’s good to have some compassion during the middle of the night. Because you will feel AWEFUL if you let him cry all night long, only to discover he had the stomach flu. He’ll be crying because his little tummy hurts and he wants his mama, and you will think he’s just being difficult. It’s such a tight rope.
The nice thing about all-nighters? They sleep late in the morning. 😉
(Photo from clipartpanda.com)
I tried posting this on my Face Book page, but it really didn’t work. I wonder if the post was too long? So I apologize, this post will be too short on Making Mommas. It probably really belongs on Face Book. But I think it is a good tip, and worth posting, regardless. 🙂
So, A nifty little tip regarding your kids’ toys: Rotate them!!
My kids have a lot of toys. The twins have inherited a lot of their older brothers’ toys – some of them are dang near 17 years old now! And, they continue to get their own, new toys as well. So what is a mom to do with all of these toys?
Well, we naturally purged them when we moved. We cleaned out all of the toys, and got rid of a lot. Trashed them. I didn’t have time to bring them anywhere or to put on a garage sale. We don’t miss them.
But for those we kept, I rotate them. I have some of them stashed under the stairs, to pull out occasionally when we need some new inspiration. I have a closet and toy box downstairs full of toys. I have a basket in the living room upstairs, full of toys. And the twins have a basket in their bedroom full of toys. The three year old has only a select few in his bedroom simply because he shares a bedroom with his 11-year-old brother, who really doesn’t appreciate having that many toys hanging around.
I often will bring some selected toys from the toy box downstairs to the basket in the living room upstairs. I then will move some of the toys in the basket in the living room in to the basket in the twins’ bedroom. And then I will move some of those toys out of the bedroom and back down to the toy box. I do this for big items as well, such as the kitchen and the Lego table. It’s amazing what a new setting, i.e., new room in the house, can do to an old toy!
How do I know when it’s time to rotate? When I get tired of cleaning up the same toys again and again! I was sick and tired of cleaning up the Duplex Blocks for the umpteenth time today. So rotate we did! It’s also a good time to rotate when you need something to capture your kids’ interest for a bit longer than usual. Some “new” toys can do the trick. Maybe rotate when you need to get some Christmas preparation finished up! 😉
And with Christmas around the corner, it’s a good time to go through all of the toys as well. Clean them out! Tuck them away, chuck them away, or haul them away. Give them to the Salvation Army or The Boys’ Ranch, or bring them to a second-hand store.
(photo from accesscal.org)
That’s what I heard, last night. My husband had taken the boys downstairs to play so I could do the dishes in peace. He mentioned he felt like a nice “family night playing together downstairs”. I haven’t actually played with the kids for a while. I let them run around and play while I’ve been busy with Christmas preparations. It takes a lot, to get this house ready for Christmas, because I have to do it in such tiny little increments of time. A few minutes here, a few minutes there, after the dishes are done, before I fold my fifth load of laundry for the day….. 😉 So playing sounded nice.
I was listening to all the clapping and all the “Yay!”s as the boys bounced balls, made baskets and ran cars down a long, narrow tube. They were having a blast. And then, as I was scrubbing the floor (I have to do that after each meal and snack – the twins feed themselves. Nothing more needs to be said.) I heard my husband say, sternly, “I can assure you, that is not “Yay!” and I literally LOLed! (I love “LOL” because, really, did you really ‘laugh out loud’? Don’t write it unless you really did it!) Yes, I really laughed out loud. It was hilarious!
And I thought to myself, “ahhhh…….”
This is it. This is the time in each of my boys’ lives when my husband falls madly in love with them. And I absolutely love it. Up until now, they were infants. They didn’t do much. They didn’t react much. And they were (and still are!) a lot of work. It is harder for a man, I’ve learned, to bond, with such a small, helpless little creature. Us moms seem to do it right away. But we carried them for nine months and felt them grow within us. There’s a connection there. A man, he watches it happen. And knows the child is his. And loves it from the get-go. But that connection isn’t the same.
I’m not sure exactly when it happens for my husband. But I can see it. He raced home from work the other day because it was snowing so beautifully outside. He wanted to get the youngest three dressed up to go out and play. (It is sooo much work for me to do alone.) By the time he got home, it was getting dark. And I had to be the fun-killer, by pointing out that I needed him to shower and go pick up the 11 year old from basketball practice. That night, in bed, he reminisced about a winter wonderland he took our oldest out to play in at night, back when we lived in town. Seventeen years ago. Maybe 16 or 15. He was probably two or three. It was so much fun. Such a good memory for him. Such a fun age.
I realized, as I finished scrubbing the floor, that my life is about to get a little more fun. My husband has always been the fun-initiator. He has always been the one to tell me to put down my work and play. He is the one who has taught me that playing with the boys is the absolute most important thing we can do. And what can be more fun, than playing with the man I love, three big boys, a three year old, and two bubbling little twins? 🙂
- Routine, Routine, Routine – set a bedtime routine and stick with it. Consistency is key. This is so crucial. A child’s head can be wired to get sleepy by this routine. Once the routine starts, his brain signals to his body that it is bedtime. And sleepiness commences.
- Set a bedtime – this may sound elementary, my dear Watson, but you have no idea how many parents just let their kids crash whenever. A bedtime is so important. Again, their little bodies can be wired to fall asleep at a certain time, if that is what they are used to. Good bedtimes for the little tykes are between seven and 8:30. As they get older you can stretch it out to nine or ten. But even my teenage boys try to be in bed by 10:30.
- Hold the sugary drinks and snacks after six o’clock – Seriously. No kid needs pop or sugar after six. It honestly does keep them up.
- Give them a warm, calm bath – it does set the tone for settling down for bed, and can make a child sleepy. Not to mention, the cleanliness and quality time together are great too!
- Have a light, healthy snack – kids sleep better on a full tummy.
- Dim the household lights – it sends a signal to the brain that things are calming down now.
- Turn off the TV – or any other media device. It is good to do this an hour or so before bed. There is a lot of research on the effects that “screen time” has on little brains. Do not let your child fall asleep to a movie. (I am so, so guilty of this one!)
- Read a book – or two, or three.
- Play some soft music/sing a song – music also sets the tone and can signal to the brain that it is bedtime. Plus, it drowns out any outside noise from the rest of the house.
- Say bedtime prayers – if you are a praying family, it is just a good habit to get in to. Plus, if it is part of the bedtime routine, it signals to the child’s brain that it is time to get sleepy….
- Have a little quiet, snuggle time – everyone likes to fill loved and valued. There is no better way to end the day than with snuggles, kisses and hugs from those who love you.
- Put your child to bed awake – it is so important that he learns to fall asleep on his own. For more information on this, read “Sleep….it’s Overrated”.