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Parenting Twins Without Cribs = Chaos!

I was fully planning on keeping the Twins in their cribs until I had to, quite possibly until they were 8 {No joke}. But then, my plans were changed for me when one of their cribs broke and I had to take them down. Parenting Twins without Cribs = Chaos!

And, it’s been absolute hell ever since. Yes, it’s my blog and I will say hell, since no other word comes to mind when describing this new parenting task that I am battling.
Seriously, this new situation could not go worse…

Parenting Twins

For the last couple of weeks, I have been trying to transition the Twins from cribs to their 2 crib mattresses, which are on the floor in their bedroom. Gone are naps in the day, they are too wired and excited in there without the restraint of the cribs. ‘Mom says sleep? Pffft!’ Yet, they still need naps, so they cry and are cranky all.day.long. Literally, 5 minutes after they get up in the morning, they are fighting and it doesn’t stop at all. In fact, I’m sure my Twins are now my neighbors’ alarm clock, ‘Do I hear Twins fighting? Must be time to get to work!‘ By the end of the day, I am numb and exhausted. And not sleeping has made the Twins very bad children {yes, it’s my blog and I will call them BAD!}. How bad? I mean all sorts of behaviors, from naughty to astonishingly evil, have come out from lack of sleep. Like biting, hair pulling, slapping, shoving each other down stairs {seriously} and getting into places that they don’t normally get into {no area is a Twin-Safe-Zone in my house anymore, I’ve had to add more locks this week than closing time at the bank!}.

Yet, at the end of each day, I’m just hitting the worst part of the day…bedtime.

Come bedtime, they are tired – and a mess. They rub their eyes and willingly lay in bed, yet as they say ‘nite-nite’, the grin and excitement flashes in their faces. Sure enough, once I leave the room, they jump up and play for hours. Not just play though, they ramsack their room, pound on walls and scream laughter. They have torn apart the inside of their closets, and have thrown all the clothes out from their dresser {I could re-sort their clothes constantly, yet for now they lay in a heap on the closet floor}. They have destroyed one of their dressers {which is empty except for bedding} But still, they banged on it so bad the sides are falling off.

To try and keep them calm at bedtime, I tried laying in there until they fall asleep. This doesn’t make it easier, at all. They still take forever to fall asleep and just think it’s hilarious that I am in there {plus, it’s a bad habit I’d rather not get into doing}.

Most nights, I drag one Twin on a mattress into the hall and separate them, until they both fall asleep. Once asleep for a good hour, I drag the mattress from the hall, back into the room. That’s tough…but it’s the best solution I’ve come up with so far. Keeping them separated seems to be the best way to get them to fall asleep faster and not destroy everything {which they only do when together}. So, yes – they only act this way when feeding off each other. If we had the room in our house, I would just give the Twins separate bedrooms. But, my oldest is still too young to move downstairs.

Oh, and my poor oldest – she just started Grade 1 and she is getting tired of this too, she needs her sleep. And the banging on the walls for hours is really making her tired and cranky {and talking about ‘Mom, when I move out…’}. Side note, my wonderful oldest daughter transitioned from crib to bed so beautifully – I really was lucky. Those are indeed the good ‘ol days! In fact, she was such an ‘easy’ child, she’s the reason I said, “OK…just one more…” {DOH!}

When the kids are finally asleep at night, I just want to run for the nearest pint of ice cream and rock in the corner. It’s really a good thing that I don’t drink more than a couple times a year, or this may very well put me over the edge.

I’m at a loss here, since transitioning Twins from cribs to beds is terrain that I haven’t traveled before. Having two is so much different than transitioning one! If you are a M.O.M that has been through this before, I’d love the support and advice. Maybe someone has been through this?

And if you have no advice, I will gladly accept ice cream coupons or a visit from The Supernanny!


~

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37 Comments

  1. Some may judge me for this, but being honest what we did was return to using the alarm on their Angelcare monitors. You know the monitor that paranoid parents (like me) use so that an alarm goes off if there is no movement for a certain number of seconds (30 I think)? Well, when we first transitioned to beds we went back to the setting where if they were out of bed for more than 30 seconds an alarm went off. They quickly learned that they needed to stay in bed (we would put books within arms reach so they had the option of looking at books in bed if they couldn’t sleep). Once they were used to sleeping in beds, we stopped using the monitors. I think we were lucky though, I expected a disaster, but our transition went fairly smoothly.

    1. As long as it doesn’t scare them to be in their room, it would work {me telling them to go to bed is such a joke to them!}. Yet, with my Twins…I think they’d be afraid. They are not very good sleepers to begin with, still waking up frightened at least twice a night – this might make it worse? So hard to predict, isn’t it????

  2. Is there any possible way to put them in 2 different rooms? We have boy/girl twins who we had to separate into 2 different rooms when they were 9 months old because their sleeping patterns were so different. We didn’t really have the issue of them getting out of their rooms once they were in big girl/big boy beds because “Santa” had brought their big beds & we’d told them that he’d take them back if they came out of their rooms. It seemed to work for us (by some sheer stroke of luck & God). I know that some of my friends have put a childproof lock on the outside of their kids’ bedrooms just to keep them from getting out (not to mention for safety reasons, since they wouldn’t always be awake & alert in the middle of the night when their twins were wandering about the house). That is a REALLY tough one & I completely understand why you’d be so frustrated. When the kids aren’t sleeping, Mama isn’t sleeping & then we ALL have a problem. Good luck to you — I pray that you find a feasible solution.

    1. Hey girl!!
      I know, I need another room up here. But, my oldest is 6 and she might not do so well in the basement. Up until about a month ago, I’d say it would be alright – yet she just started seeing ‘shadows’ in her room, and sometimes needs reassurance….if it gets bad enough, I will have to resort to that though. Parenting, it’s always leaping from one obstacle to another, isn’t it???

  3. Oh.my. See, when my inlaws ask me when I am going to put my triplets (almost 3) in beds, I will direct them to this post. This is exactly what I am afraid of! I hope its just a phase that passes soon!

    1. Triplets, just adorable!
      Well, if they are almost 3, it may be a whole lot easier. Harder to separate too, unless you have many bedrooms to spare! Best of luck to you Lani

  4. I was lucky at first, I moved my boys into their big boy beds when they were 19 months and they were fine. It wasn’t until about 2.5 years that we started having problems and yes, people may judge me too, but we went through a stage where we told them we would lock their door if they came out. They don’t like that so they usually just stay in. We were lucky with our oldest as well, because the twins were coming and I didn’t want to have to buy 2 new cribs we moved her into a big bed at 16 months and never had any problems with her.

    Are you going to get them beds soon? Having the beds on the floor may seem too much like play time.

    No matter what you try, stay strong!! They are testing you and eventually bed time will go back to normal.

    1. Leanne, I thought of getting them beds – maybe it’ll be special and they will want to stay in them!
      I thought 2 was so young {for them, yet 2 wasn’t so young when my daughter was that age}, and that it was way too soon – but if you did it at 16 months – I have more faith.
      Thanks so much for the support!

  5. I had my girls 11 months apart and they sleept in the same room. When my oldest was big enough for a “big girl bed” I had a hard time getting her to sleep too. One night desprate I put them both to sleep in the same crib. They jumped up and down for a while but soon fell asleep and stayed asleep all night! The next night my big girl asked to sleep with her sister so I put her in the crib again tucked them in and they were soon asleep. They shared the same crib untill my little girl learned to get out then they shared the same big girl bed. it mite work for your kids to.. at least they won’t be able to get into stuff for a night.

    1. That is cute! Mine fight way too much to be in the same crib. I think I separated them into 2 cribs at about 4 or 6 months….

  6. Let me first say that I feel your pain! Our boy/girl twins will be 3 in November. At the beginning of the summer, we took off the crib rails and converted their cribs into toddler beds. That lasted about, oh, 2 weeks, for the same reasons – they weren’t napping and CRABBY, they were completely out of sorts, and I couldn’t take them anywhere because they were so naughty. They are still in cribs (even though they can climb out of them), just to give me a bit of sanity in my day. I am going to take the bed rails off this week and give it another shot. My plan is this – WEAR THEM OUT. I am going to go about my daily stuff – laundry, dishes, shopping, cooking, etc., but I’m going to fit in more time for them to run and walk and work off all that energy.

    1. I hear you on wearing them out, I’ve been trying so hard!!
      Good luck to you Stacy, let me know how it goes!

      1. Toddlers have boundless energy, I know, and it seems 100 times worse when they are overtired and then get that second wind. We have what we call ‘The point of no return’ when the ugly comes on in a big way (times 2) and makes life very interesting and loud for all of us in this house.

        I’d second what a few other moms said about purchasing a few cheap pack-n-plays (or borrow from someone). We bought 2 for less than $80 at Toys R Us and just sold them and made almost all of our money back since they were barely used. What yours might need is that barrier, just a mental fence to keep them in bed until they are a little older, even for a few months and then give it another shot. Don’t think of it as a step back – think of it as temporary. After all, it’s not like they are going to be headed to kindergarten still sleeping in cribs or pack-n-plays…even though I’ve considered that 😉

        Good luck to you!

  7. Oh I am so sorry, Tami. I know how tired you must be and I don’t even have twins! My first child was easily taught to stay in his big boy bed…but not until he was almost 3. I moved my daughter to a “big girl bed” when she was 2.5 and it was much harder. She kept getting up multiple times a night. It took about 2-3 months for her to get good at sleeping in her bed. Your girls just turned 2. I really think they are too young for that kind of “responsibility”. It is so much worse with them being together. We had a 3 year old cousin come visit for a week and sleep in the other twin bed in my 2.5 year old’s room. I could not get them to sleep. They were up until midnight talking to each other. They had so much trouble going to sleep in the same room. I wish you could get another crib and go back to cribs until the girls are 3. That would make life so much easier. Can you borrow a crib from anyone? At this point, who cares if they don’t match. Any cribs need reviewed? Good luck.

    1. Hi Annie,
      I have been toying with the idea of putting cribs back up, or using play pens for a while {I’ve never used them with the Twins though, so I’m not sure how that would go}.
      Yes, you said it right – get more than one in there and it’s one huge slumber party, pillow fights, tears and all!

  8. oh boy…I am not there …yet as mine are 9 months…I will see what others say!! Do the best you can I guess, maybe remove all stimulation from the room? no toys, books etc…

    1. Cheryl, the room is BARE. It’s so depressing in there, and it echos…not at all the beautiful nursery I made for them long ago. Makes me so sad {especially when I threaten to pad the room too}….lol

  9. I don’t have twins, but my boys are very close together. When we had to put the oldest and middle one together in the same room, it was chaotic. I was up and down the stairs for hours at a time trying to get them to stop playing and stay in bed. I tried the “silent return to bed” technique that Supernanny talks about, and it helped a bit. I found the more I got mad about, the worse they would become. I also tried taking away their favorite stuffed animals and that also helped a bit. Unfortunately though, there is nothing you can really do. Eventually, it will wear off….I promise! I think it took my boys a good 3 months before the bouncing around the room stopped. I wish I had the magic solution!

    1. Jen, I never heard of the ‘silent return to bed’ technique, maybe I was too focused on the ‘naughty chair’ tidbit from Supernanny? I’ll have to look that up, I’m curious!
      It’s been almost 2 weeks now, endure or cave……Oh, I’m tired!!!

  10. I feel for you! I hope you have a rest soon. I become very very bad when I am exhausted, and when I’m bad, everyone is bad!

    I have a couple of suggestions for you. First is to try some sedative like benadryl or seratonin (sleep aid). Of course you’re going to have to consult a doctor or some literature to figure out the dose. If your twins are so overtired they’re not going to learn anything you tell them. My 5 year old is the same way. He is a person who needs a nap but doesn’t ever want one. When he is exhausted, he misbehaves (not consciously). Whatever we tell him don’t stick at the point of exhaustion. So I’m thinking that once your get your twins to just have one good night sleep, they may become receptive and then you can slowly “teach” them they must stay in bed.

    The other is to try a light sleep training (may work best after a few good night’s sleep like I said above). I bought a digital programmable timer and a fun night light for their room. I programmed it so that when it’s on, they are to stay in bed and when it turns off they can get up and out of bed. I set it for night time and nap time. You will have to train them when it’s not nap time for 10 minutes at a time or so (up to you). We use this light system now (my twins are 3 and I have a 5 year old who use this) and it has worked – as far as night time goes anyway. My twins are lately finding it fun to run around and scream at nap time before they get exhausted and sleep.

    I just thought of another thing just now – is your twins’ room bright? If you have just an LED night light that has a soft glow it may be too dark for them to get out of bed and do naughty things. If it’s completely dark, it may even work better (but of course only if your kids don’t have darkness phobia).

    Good luck to you. I hope you get rest soon.

    1. You make a great suggestion Isabel – this nightlight, how safe is it for a two year old? I haven’t been able to put a nightlight in their rooms, for fear that they would play with it. And, all our sockets are at floor level. THIS is the reason why I wish there was one socket higher up in every room!!

      1. There are nite light systems you can get as others have suggested. You can look for them on amazon. I opted for a homemade one because I wasn’t satisfied with the reviews. I went to walmart and browsed their digital timers and nite light. The timer I bought is very hard to pull out of the socket and the program is covered. There is a override on/off which my twins olayed with a couple of times. As far as night light there are LEDs so no worries on bulb breaking and hot lights. You can also have a set up on top of a dresser out of reach by using extension cord. I have a stars night light.

  11. Oh my, my, my, my, my, my, my!!!

    I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this. You must be so tired. I have just the thing you need! It’s called “The Wake Up Light System”. It’s basically a night light on a timer (I’m not selling anything). When the light is OFF, they must follow the sleep rules: Lay Down, Close Eyes, Be Still, Be Quiet.

    When the light is ON, they may get up out of bed, talk, read, play… whatever.

    You make a chart of the rules and put it up on the wall near the night light (on the timer). Using pictuers helps.

    First time through, you review the rules during the day — not at a nap time or bedtime. You have them act out what they are suppose to do when the light is OFF… and then have them act out what to do when the light is ON. (Be sure to get a timer with a toggle on/off so you can go back and forth practicing.

    Then, every night, you review the rules.

    So, at bedtime, you set the timer so that the light is ON for 10 – 15 minutes. Explain that they can play, talk, read, whatever until that light goes OFF. But when the light is OFF, they must follow the sleep rules.

    If they break the rules, you go in and say in a monotone voice “It’s sleep time — the light is OFF”. Sometimes you might have to physically lay them down. If they have very bad habits, it might take a while to break (days), but be consistent. Don’t ever go in and yell, or even engage in conversation — unless the light is ON.

    If you must, you can establish a consequence if they don’t follow the sleep rules, like going to bed earlier the next night because they are not getting enough sleep… because they are not following the sleep rules. This works especially well if one of them has to go to bed earlier than the other. Also, you can take out a favorite video (or game, or whatever) and say, “let’s watch xzy! Oh… darn… you’ll have to go to bed now because you aren’t following the sleep rules and you need your sleep! Maybe tomorrow night you can stay up and watch this.”

    Then, the light helps you in the morning, too. You set the light to come on at the time it is okay for them to get up for the day. Same thing… while the light is OFF, they must follow the Sleep Rules, when the light is ON, they can get up.

    Hope this gives you some ideas! I’m happy to answer questions about how we’ve used this system. http://TwinParenthood.com (lots more tips on using the wake up light system under the “Wake Up Light” tag.)

    Kat

    1. Kathryn,
      This sounds like a great product! I do have a few Q’s though, especially regarding the light and safety for toddler hands….I’ll check it out first….Thanks so much, your site sounds like a wonderful resource for parents!

  12. My friend’s twin girls did the same thing. She actually moved all their stuff into their spare room, so they had nothing to play with in their room. You could move their stuff downstairs.

    What if you got a few cheep pack n plays? I understand that you don’t want to purchase another crib. But kids curl up when they sleep anyhow. You could try pack n play’s for a few months, then resort to the mattresses on the floors again.

    1. Hi Alissa,
      Yes, I am debating on that as well!
      Right now I have one twin, as usual, sleeping in the hall.
      Yet, now from them being so rough and dragging the mattress back and forth every day – the plastic casing on the mattress is all ripped. I just cannot get a break here!!

  13. I have (just like stacy) b/g twins that will be 3 in nove and the only thing I can suggest is buy another crib or pack and play until they fit no more. I think 3 is the biggest party stage right now, mine will no longer take afternoon nap and spend that time signing, throwing things, getting into trouble together. As for wearing them out I am not sure about yours but mine are undestructable, maybe b/c I have been trying to wear them out since they were 18 months.
    Good luck and btw you made me laugh so hard I cried since I know the situation too well.

  14. Ah, my sympathies, that sounds terrible!

    I totally and completely second (third? fourth?) the nightlight system — we have the “Good Nite Lite” (http://www.goodnitelite.com/) for my twins and it feels very safe to me, though my toddlers aren’t into cords/outlets much (lucky, I know!). Its supposed to plug right into a wall outlet but we have it in an extension cord that is propped on top of a dresser (so the light is facing out, cord down the back). Then at the wall you can have one of these (http://www.amazon.com/Double-Touch-Plug-Outlet-Covers-pack/dp/B000046S3T/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=baby-products&qid=1283919363&sr=8-1), which feels safe for my kids at least!

    We actually are on day 5 of this transition with my girls (27 months) and knock on wood, its going pretty well. We have had the Good Nite Lite thing going since last Christmas though, so that helps — they really get it that when the moon is on its sleep time, sun on its Wake! Up! Time! We did go through a with phase with superyards around each of their crib mattresses on the floor — here is a pic (http://chinacat.org/roller/sunfrog/entry/goodbye_crib) — do you think your kids would go for it? Mine could climb out if they wanted, but didn’t try very much since they liked their own space.

    Since we got rid of the gates, I have been drilling these three rules into their heads (I’ve actually been talking to them about it off and on for months, leading up to this): 1) You MUST ask before getting in to play your sisters bed during the day (not okay at night, ever, though– so you might want to just ban it entirely) 2) DO NOT EVER WAKE YOUR SISTER and 3) DO NOT get out of bed when the moon is on (on their Good Nite Lite).

    So far, this seems to be working, but I KNOW how lucky I am, so many of my friends with multiples have had such challenges with this (we could just be in the “honeynmoon phase” too, I realize). I would not hesitate to separate them into different rooms if you can swing it, even if just for a few months to get the routines down. I am a HUGE believer in “sleep begets sleep” and for us the sleep deprivation cycle makes things worse and worse — if you can get them to catch up on sleep, in whatever way you can (so hard, I know!), things might improve significantly. Can you crank the bedtimes a lot earlier? Nap in separate rooms, at least? I hope something works for you very soon!

  15. I’m thinking that perhaps age 2 is too young (in most cases, not all cases) to transition them from the crib to a crib mattress on the floor. Too bad you were thrust into this by a broken crib! I like how cribs provided a boundary for my boys, one they could eventually leap over at will, but it was a boundary and I think my boys (who are always pushing the limits) like boundaries. If this were happening while your girls were still in cribs, I’d say go with crib tents.

    My boys mastered the crib escape at 18 months, but we still kept them in cribs (didn’t need tents) with lowered the rails and kept the cribs until my boys turned 3. Although at times, it seemed the cribs were nothing more than a in-room play structure, I had a feeling my boys liked having a place where they could retreat.

    After we moved our boys to big boy beds at age 3 (at this point, it was an easy pole vault in and out of the cribs and just plain ridiculous), they did make appearances at all hours of the night at my bedside, but it was just a phase.

    My friend Mari is an expert at these things, I’ll see if she can pop in over here.

    Good luck!

  16. Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence, Akemi, but my twins are 2 years, 8 months and still SECURELY zipped into crib tents. LOL

    Like you, Tammi, I have twin toddlers + 1 (kindergartener), and over here, it’s all girls, all drama, all the time. We just got a new “bigger” girl bed for my eldest, which is a little European low-loft bed that’s bigger than a crib, but smaller than a twin. I was thinking of transitioning the Twinks into the toddler bed, although after reading your post and Akemi’s comment, now I’m not so sure. My girls are teeny tiny and could easily fit into cribs for another 3-4 years, no joke, and since they share a room and can’t escape in their current situation, I’m not confident that moving them now is what I want to do.

    I have heard GREAT things about the Good Nite Lite (fabulous reviews on Amazon) and they do have a money back guarantee, so it’s worth a shot. My girls are not destructive, and in fact, one twin is OCD tidy and a rule-follower and would FREAK (i.e. scream, “Oh NO! OH NOOOO!), if her sister tried any crazy antics.

    I sooo don’t want to be going through what you are going though right now. Maybe I can find a toddler boarding school to train them and send them back….

    Good luck!
    Mari

  17. Oh, and I forgot to mention, melatonin is your friend. I know a couple of moms who use it at the recommendation of their pediatrician and wow, it does help them on those nights when it’s either a little spritz of that or I’m headed for the border and not looking back! 😛

    1. oh really? It’s bottled?
      I have been spraying Lavender in their room in the evenings, it seems to help!

  18. I thought of something else. We did what we called, “Tour de clocks” in our house. It’s our own made up thing. When it was bedtime, we picked up our oldest child when he was 1 to 2 years old. We carried him around the house looking at the clocks. He loved this for some reason. We would show him the time on the clock, and that it was time to go to bed. He’d actually ask for, “Tour de clocks.” He’d go right to sleep because he knew it was time to go to bed.

    If your husband helps with them going to sleep, you could each grab a twin and do this at the same time. They love the one on one attention. If it’s just one of you putting them to bed; alternate twins. One night one goes first, the next night the other one goes first.

    Kids this age have no concept of time. If you show them, then they might see it and believe it.

    1. I did that with my oldest, Alissa. Funny you should mention that….I should try it, it can’t hurt!! Thanks for the tip!

  19. I just found your website. Ugh, your logo looks just like me and my three little ladies. My oldest daughter is 4.5 and the twins are 2.5. We’re just now transitioning the twins into big girl beds and it is not going very smoothly. Keep your chin up and keep the advice flowing.

  20. I chanced upon your blog on a desperate search for solutions for my twin toddlers. The relief I felt to know that someone else has experienced it is overwhelming. They raid their closet and rip everything down. When we transitioned them out if cribs they destroyed their dresser. The diapers constantly come off. I have relied on tape so heavily. Finally last night I went through my ritual of jamming their closet doors shut with a large wooden dowel and tape their diapers in only to find, what to me might as well have been the apocalypse. Their closet had thrown up everywhere and the poop had been smeared into the carpets, all over the bed, finger painted into the walls, and smeared into windows where blinds once hung (until the fourth set were ripped down and I just took them out all together). It’s days like that where you just fall to the ground crying and you just want to give up. Why has this whole process been so hard? The pregnancy was hard, delivery was hard, finances are harder, my older daughter has suffered, the late night feedings are almost impossible, the list just keeps going!!! Almost no part of this has been “easy.” The whole situation unfortunately forces you to constantly re-evaluate yourself as a mom and since it’s always such a huge mess, the self diagnosis is always bad. I have tried every solution to every problem from darn near everyone. It’s just so comforting to know you have experienced my problems now almost in the same exact detail. I’m guessing you haven’t had a stroke yet or become a raging alcoholic so I’m holding onto hope. Thank you for opening up on what I am too ashamed to admit to people for help.

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