Going against conventional wisdom

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Categories Ask the Moms, Behavior, Family, Other people, Toddlers

When my boys were 16 months old, Nate started climbing out of his crib. We thought he would grow out of this phase but every time we put him in the crib, he tried to climb out. The cribs we bought did not have the option to use crib tents, so we made the decision to transition both boys to toddler beds.

If I could do it all over again, I would have bought different cribs that could accommodate crib tents. We have spent the last year trying to get naptime to work in our house on weekends. Until this weekend, our naptime routine was that we put the boys to bed, then I or my husband Jon watch the video monitor and intervene where necessary.

The boys generally play for 30 minutes to an hour, but sometimes they play for 90 minutes. They fight, they sing, they shout, and they generally go crazy in there – fun time with no supervision! It is anything but naptime as they egg each other on. Each naptime is filled with time outs, warnings, and frustration on our end.

We had numerous naptime ups and downs. We had days where we gave up and drove them around in the car until they slept.  I emailed every twin mom friend and every twin group to which I have access. I scoured the internet for solutions. And every person told me not to separate them at naptime if we wanted them to sleep together for bedtime.

This weekend, Jon and I decided to break all conventional wisdom. We were tired of spending our weekends as referees for an unknown amount of time. By the time the boys fell asleep, we barely had time to eat lunch before the boys were back up. We decided to split the boys into different rooms at naptime. AND IT WORKED.

We explained to them what we were going to do. We put them down in different rooms and they were both asleep within 10 minutes. Alex was a little sad and wanted me to sleep in Nate’s bed, but I rubbed his back and told him he would be ok by himself. They slept for two hours, their longest nap since the bed transition. At bedtime, they asked if they were going to be in different rooms and when we told them they were sleeping together, they happily talked for 10 minutes then went to sleep.

During this entire year, we thought we were doing the right thing by keeping them together. We kept thinking it was a phase they would outgrow. We were wrong. They simply nap better when they are apart. This experience taught me that there is no one “right” answer for parenting dilemmas and that even the collective wisdom of all the twin moms out there sometimes doesn’t have the right answer for your situation.

What about you? What advice have you gotten that doesn’t work for you?

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17 thoughts on “Going against conventional wisdom”

  1. I have ALWAYS separated my 4 y.o. twins for naps…since they were infants! They just couldn’t nap together, and they have always done just fine at night. I’m so glad to hear that you found something that worked!

  2. We separated our kids altogether when we moved them to big kid beds for the exact same reason.. I was losing it every day b/c they wouldn’t nap and were so cranky b/c of it!

  3. We had to separate our three year old girls during naps too. They just entertained themselves too much. It has never affected bedtime at all.
    Pretty much all advice about not being able to breastfeed twins was wrong. And my mother-in-law still shutters at the thought that we let our children cry it out. We did what works for us and what worked best for our kids.

  4. We have two sets of twins, and each set sleeps together (wonderfully!) at night and sleeps separately during naptime. This means one of our youngest sleeps in a pack n play in a walk-in closet, but hey, it works and they are well rested and happier (making for happier parents as well).

  5. We’ve always separated ours as well (now 17 months) for nap, and, for a long time, for bedtime. I know people SAY that they will stop waking each other up. Well, when Danny was crying it out 3 times a night, she woke up. Always. And it was a nightmare of screaming and crying. We also didn’t wake Abigail up as an infant when Danny woke up to eat. People always say to wake one when the other wakes up, but she could go 5-6 hours some nights and he could go maybe 2, so we never did. Totally against twin wisedom, but it worked (as much as sleep deprivation ever works) for us. AND, we didn’t ever have to sleep train Abigail.

  6. Our 16 month ID girls have slept in separate rooms since they were 4 months old. Since we only have three bedrooms, my older daughter and my husband and I have had to do a lot of switching around. Our motto is “whatever works.” One twin sleeps alone in my older daughter’s old room; my older daughter moved in with the other twin; and my husband and I got our room back. We plan to put them in the same room around age two, but we’re flexible on that. Eventually they’ll share a room, but I don’t have the energy or strength to deal with their fighting at night. They already fight enough during the day!

  7. My ID 27 month old boys sleep in the same room for both nap and nighttime, and we just recently started dealing with the same problem you describe regarding what we’ve dubbed the “anti-nap”. Singing, bouncing, chatting…they don’t fuss, but they’ll stay in there chirping (mostly) happily for over an hour sometimes! What I’ve done is give them a five-minute “get-your-energy-out” period in their cribs before coming back in to tuck them in for nap. Of course, they don’t heed the five minute rule whatsoever, but they do calm down and have been able (for the last several days–fingers X’d!) to go to sleep within about 10 minutes following the “tuck-in”. I’ve thought about the separate room thing but we lack space, so am hopeful that this will work–we’ll see! So glad you found something that works for you–naptime needs to be calm and quiet for EVERYONE’s sake!

  8. I read this as my kids are up there chatting and screeching for the last hour… and that’s after a nice, tiring (you’d think!) runaround at a gym before lunch. Alright, we may need to separate, or at least try Alix’s tuck-in method… Argh.

  9. hmmmm, let’s see….
    -do not rock them to sleep
    -do not nap with them
    -do not let them have pacifiers
    -try not to let them run your life (haha)

    i do not know…i just do not listen to the ‘wisdom’ anymore. wanna hear a really scary thing i did. i let my kids sleep on their tummies. it was the only way they would sleep. i remember my mom telling me it was the ‘wisdom’ of their time that babies on their backs would vomit and choke, so all babies slept on their tummies. i was with them while they slept, and i do not advocate that you (whoever you are) do what i did…but i do what works. they will be just fine in the long run…because my first aim, my one big desire is to do right and well by them. and a lot of times that is diametrically opposite to the ‘wisdom’ of out times.

  10. We were told we had to keep them on the same schedule. Feeding on demand made all of us much happier and we got a lot more sleep.

    We were told that we shouldn’t rock them to sleep, stay with them ’til the fell asleep, and a variety of other things that would create sleep associations and prevent them from learning to go to sleep on their own. That was all a total crock. They’ve gone through stages of needing us to help them sleep and stages where they want us to leave them alone to go to sleep.

    They only advice I ever give it out is to ignore all the advice givers and do what works best for your own family.

  11. I hated to separate my twins, but they had different sleep requirements and Shenzie was always keeping Heaten awake. I was SO sad when we moved them to their own rooms at 17 months. Now at 2 years I wish we would have done it even sooner. They are still just as close as they always were, they have their own space if they need it, and most importantly they (and me) sleep SO much better. I’m glad you found the answer to your sleep issues. I agree, do whats best for your family, nobody knows your boys better than you do. =)

  12. What conventional wisdom did I ignore? I happen to believe that SIDS is caused by flame retardants in crib mattresses interacting with household fungus and producing a gas toxic to babies. The research is really solid, but for reasons I can’t fully understand, it’s not a widespread view.

    I wrapped my mattresses with plastic and slept my babies from day two on their stomach.

    They seemed happy, had strong necks and slept through the night at 8 weeks. Whether or not these things are related, I can’t say. But I didn’t worry about SIDS.

    Puts me in a bit of a quandry. Twins are at higher risk for SIDS, as are second singleton babies and third babies even more. The theory is they are more likely to be sleeping on used mattresses. Mattress wrapping has a 100% success rate, whether the mattress is used or not.

    I want to pass the word along, and I have, but I feel like a freak because no one seems to buy it but me and my mom’s generation (who slept their babies on their stomachs and hadn’t heard of SIDS, and want to explain it by some recent environmental cause.)

    But you asked, so I’d love to share with other MOMs!

  13. my twin boys sleep together at night but mostly separately for naps too.
    It works for us too – if they are together more often than not it is all giggles at first and then tears …or me pulling my hair out.
    I am glad others break the rules too.
    Glad it worked for you.

  14. A few months ago I had to separate our boys for naps, but then a couple of months later, they could be together again. I let them have some “talking time,” but then it’s rest/quiet time. One usually complies and the other often doesn’t and has to be reminded a couple of times (gently and loveingly, of course – ha!).

  15. Yeah. I don’t like it when people make that comment: Oh it’s so much harder with kids 2 years apart!

    *What about twins who are 2 and a 1 year old?*

    Or one of my dear friends with 2 (!!!) sets of twins and a teenager?!

    OK Competismugmommy. Go home.

  16. i always look at conventional wisdom as a guideline…i try it out and if it doesn’t work than we just do things our own way. this is a great post about listening to your kids rather than the “experts” and doing what works for them!

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