Adjusting bedtime routines

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As my husband and I were wrangling our girls into their cribs tonight, I started thinking about how our bedtime routine has evolved over the past year and a half.  The evolution is due in part to their age but always because there are three of them. 

When the girls were about 15 months old, we added reading books in their room to the routine.  I would sit in the glider chair in their bedroom with all three and read a few books.  It’s not that we didn’t normally read to them, just that they didn’t seem to have the attention span prior to that age for me to read to all three at once.  It was at about this age that delay tactics made an appearance and those have continued and evolved as well.   

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Before the girls’ second birthday, they outgrew (literally not figuratively) the glider chair so we decided to have them sit on little stools in front of the chair while I read to them.  That didn’t work out so well as (mostly) Anna liked to jump up and touch every page in the book while adding some commentary which made getting through a book a very long task.  We transitioned to having them sit in their cribs while I sat on the floor (in a spot where they could all see) and read.  A few months ago, we decided that they were “mature” enough to sit in little chairs while I sat in the floor in front of them.  This routine worked out well but within the past few weeks, we noticed that the girls have been too hyper at night to sit and concentrate on a book so we have transitioned once again.  They now each look through a book while they spend some alone time with Mommy in the glider. 

My husband and I have discussed what bedtime routines are like with singletons.  I suppose a parent would sit be able to sit in a chair or on the side of a bed with one child in order to read books to that child.  And that older children wouldn’t require both Mommy and Daddy at bedtime, freeing up a parent.  I’m assuming that it is a lot different from our bedtime.

Oh, I should have mentioned that part of our bedtime routine has always involved me rocking/cuddling in the glider with each of the girls for about five minutes alone.  They really seem to enjoy this special time partly because there is no competition.  Each has to wait her turn.  Although, for the longest time I did try to rotate the order of who went first, second and third.  Every night, Emily would tell me that it was her turn to go first.  So I guess there was a bit of competition but for the most part, their special time was uninterrupted.

Delay tactics have also evolved.  There have always been the pleas for more water and now that we are potty training, someone always declares that she has to go on the potty at the last minute.  At that broadcast, the other two announce that they have to go as well.  We have been giving in because 90% of the time, someone goes and we are in the early stages of potty training.

Our next transition will be to separate rooms and toddler beds.  Yikes!!! 

Any tips to moving to toddler beds?  How have your bedtime routines changed and do you feel that having multiples played a role in those changes? 

Sarah is the mother to “almost” three year old identical triplet girls – Allie, Anna and Emily – who were born at 35 weeks and 6 days.   You can read more about her crazy life raising triplets at The Great Umbrella Heist.

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13 thoughts on “Adjusting bedtime routines”

  1. Ah, I have come to (mostly) love our bedtime routines, and I think my girls do too. For us, the repetition and knowing what comes next is great.

    Our routine also includes two parents, though we split off with one (usually Dad) doing our 3 year old and the other (me) doing my twins (19 months now, gulp). VERY occasionally one of us does bedtime for all three, but that is really not preferable for all involved!

    Reading plays prominently in our bedtime routine too, and so far my twins fit in my mega wide glider with me, which helps calm them and keep them focused. I still nurse them there, too, after lights out, which is a great bonding/chill out time for us. At some point I assume I will move to a one-on-one time in the chair with each of them, like you do, but for now the tandem thing still works!

    I am also dreading the move to big girl beds (and nighttime pottytraining) with my twins. It was a breeze with my older daughter, but I think the room sharing will add significant challenges… Yeeps!
    .-= Kristin Hutchinson´s last blog ..Mama superpowers I never expected to have (but do!) =-.

  2. Our bedtime routine will be changing soon as well. For now my husband bathes our almost 3 year old boys, gets them ready for bed and reads them stories, sings, prays and they get in bed. Pretty easy, no delay tactics so far. I get our 1 year old daughter ready for bed, nurse her and lay her down. Again, pretty easy. Once she is down, I help get the boys ready for bed (they are usually getting out of the bath at that point). Sometimes I read to them before bed, but usually dad. Baby number 4 is due this summer and we will need to move our daughter into the boys’ room this Spring (she sleeps in our huge closet at the moment). We are hoping to move into a larger place, but if we are still here when number 4 arrives, that one will go in our closet and the 3 older ones will share a large room. Then we will need to figure out how to get the 3 down together–start doing story time with all 3, wean our daughter, etc. Should be interesting at first, but I think it will work once we get into a routine. The boys are pretty flexible once we explain to them why things need to change. Praying it all goes well and that we can get into a larger place sooner rather than later. I’m tired of having a baby in our closet. :)
    .-= Joanna´s last blog ..Play time =-.

  3. We had to put our twins into toddler beds when they were 21 months because their cribs were recalled and we had no other option. By the end of the first month with them in toddler beds we had taken everything out of their room except their beds and their dresser. Their dresser is firmly attached to the wall and has the knobs off the drawers so they can’t open them. Before we took everything out they were climbing in/on their changing table, throwing books against the wall as hard as they could, standing on the glider rocker and rocking themselves, and climbing in their dresser drawers. So if your kids are as crazy and energetic as mine, I recommend you empty the room before switching them to toddler beds :)

    That being said, I have several friends with twins who didn’t have any of the problems we have had. I’m sure the fact that they are fairly young for toddler beds contributed to the craziness.

    My husband works at night so I do the night routine by myself. After getting ready for bed we sit on the floor and sing songs, say prayers, then go to bed. Sadly we don’t read books anymore since we had to take them all out :)

  4. I have 5 kids-3 singles and twin baby girls. My oldest is 8. I took him out of his crib before my daughter was born-big mistake! He was just under two years old. I had to lay with him until he fell asleep or he would be up all night!
    With my daughter, I left her in her crib until she asked to be in a big girl bed which happened when she was around two and a half. Of course, she didn’t try to climb out so that worked. She is my best sleeper and easiest to put to bed to this day!
    Don’t move them until they are ready!!!

  5. My husband and I both agree that the kids are staying in cribs until they learn to climb out (or potty training, whichever comes first). I laughed a little at the post because when we went on vacation with friends who have a singleton their bedtime routine was quite a sight and definitely required two parents. My husband does both kids alone every night and we’ll have to figure out how to incorporate a third this summer. One key with multiples is simplicity – bath, dress, book, bed. When I’m home I sing them “twinkle, twinkle”. In the winter we do have to moisturize them which adds to the hassle – especially since neither kid is willing to cooperate when we are trying to get them into diapers or clothing. Toddlers! My husband has said that it tends to go more smoothly when I am not home. I expect that is true!
    .-= Mommy, Esq.´s last blog ..Gains From Trade =-.

  6. Our girls are almost one, and we haven’t managed to introduce reading at bedtime. Right now the routine is Dad does bath on nights when they get a bath, I feed them and rock them while Dad gets big brother in pjs, fed his snack and read his stories. I’d like to be able to read to everyone but finding time, space and focus isn’t working right now. I usually try to read them all a story or two in the afternoon.

  7. Our twins are 19 months – bedtime is thankfully simple and smooth – baths or change into pjs, bottles, diapers, up to bedroom and into cribs. I recite “Goodnight Moon” instead of read it and sing Twinkle Little Star and say a little good night prayer aloud (all with the lights out). Then I say good night and go out. So far, it works for us. We do all of our reading during the day or after dinner but before bedtime rituals. And at night it is just me putting the kids to bed so I need it simple for everyone.

    With my older daughter (5) bedtime used to last HOURS and often ended with EVERYONE in tears because of frustration. that is why I keep it so simple with the little ones. And I know how BLESSED we are that they took to it and now I am afraid I jinxed it because I responded to this post.

  8. I would recommend skipping the toddler bed and transitioning them right into a regular bed. When my daughter was 2 we put her in a toddler bed because we need the crib for the twins. At that time I thought she was too little for a big bed. However when one of my twin boys started climbing out of the crib at 2, I ended up putting him right into a regular bed (that was already in the room) and he did just fine. Ironically now both of my boys are in regular beds and my daughter is still in a toddler bed. Now at 4 1/2 I have to transition my daughter out of her toddler bed into a regular bed. I wish I had just done that in the first place.

  9. We skipped the toddler beds and went directly to big kid beds to skip that added expense. The transition went smoothly. We used an idea from my sister in law … she put the big bed in the room while her daughter was still in her crib and slowly introduced the big bed concept. Her daughter made the decision each night, for about 3 months, which bed to sleep in … this strategy worked for all three of ours.

    Our bedtme routine has definitely changed often. Reading with 3 is a challenge … but we have discovered that having them in a confined area works better. One parent takes one child and the other takes two … we let the kids decide which parent they want to read with each night. They have a tendency to want to run around like wild monkeys before bed and, of course, we are trying to get them to sit still long enough to discover they are tired.

    One day, about 6 months ago, the kids and I were all having a really bad day and I needed to come up with a way to calm everyone down and try to regroup. I had an idea to sit in a recliner downstairs and read … so I put one on my lap and one on each side of me and started to read books … within 10 minutes all three kids were asleep … and an idea was born. We moved our two recliners upstairs to the kids rooms and that is now where we read to them each night. They are large enough to hold everyone, the reclined position seems to relax them, and it’s not quite as easy to crawl out of on a whim … they seem to stay put.

    An added bonus of the recliner came one night when I had to sit up with a sick child … I was able to sleep and hold her at the same time.

    The constant changing of routines seems to be the norm in our house … I’m sure it will stabilize at some point … I just hope the reading and cuddling time is the thing that sticks.
    .-= Merri Ann´s last blog ..Probing The Environment =-.

  10. Had to laugh at the above comment that bedtime goes smoother when Mommy isn’t there! The same phenomenon happens in our house…Daddy is very efficient the 4-5 nights a week that I work– The nights Mommy is involved tend to get drawn out and OH the delay tactics! (Mine know Mommy is an easier target!)

    We have a queen-size bed in our toddlers’ room, which is where we sit or lay with them for bed-time stories. When we do have to transition out of cribs, I suppose we will just put that mattress on the floor and let them sleep together–but wonder how much monkey-business that will invite!!

    I am dreading the move from cribs. We are delaying that as looooonnnng as possible. I’m thinking 5 more years at least…lol :)

  11. I am also wondering what will happen when we transition to big/toddler beds. Thanks for the suggestions to just go straight to big beds. It’s something to think about, but I think their room will be too small for 2 big beds.

    Our routine is pretty simple: last potty call, pajamas, brush teeth and then bed. If Daddy is there then he plays guitar for a little while, else its just lights out. We do our reading before bedtime as well. If they are very active, I read books as a way to calm them down.

  12. I have a 3.5 year old daughter and am expecting twin boys in a few short months, so I am not a parenting expert by any means. However, my thoughts about transitioning out of the crib are this: skip the toddler bed and go right to a single. It cuts out a future transition, like the other women mentioned, and it gives them more room. If your girls are like mine, they are all over their cribs at night. It took my daughter a few months to understand her head stayed at one end, feet at the other, etc. and we only used the gate on the bed for about 2 months. Explaining the whole “big girl bed” concept has seemed to make her really want to be invested in it, which included picking out her new comforter, etc.

    As for bedtime routine, we (knock on wood) have never had any issues with her leaving the room or getting out of bed. There is simply no negotiations at bedtime. Bath, teeth, book, songs, kisses. She usually ends up singing to herself or talking for 20 minutes before she falls asleep. :)
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..Year In Review =-.

  13. i have three year old twin girls and bedtime has become a nightmare. they go to bed about 9 everynight almost but it takes them until 11 30 to go to sleep and by 2 am they are awake and in the bed with me do not know what to do routines are not helping me i want them to go to bed and mommy not have to sit in there with them until they fall asleep any suggestions desperate mommy in need of help

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