Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I have 3 children and my twins are not sleeping, Help!



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Questioner: Jessie

Subject: Twins and sleep problems

Question: Hi, I have three children. A set of twins girls who only just turned two and an older daughter who is about to turn four. Unfortunately, due to circumstances, all three girls share a room. The "babies" in their campcots and the "big one" in her bed.


I have followed a strict routine with my girls since the twins were born to try and keep in control now that we are outnumbered. Everything has been easy until now except for normal fighting, etc. They eat, bath, change, say good night, get into their cots and we leave and close the door - all by 6.30pm. Thats it, no problems.

About two weeks ago, the one twin (lets say twin 1) learned how to climb out of her cot. Although the other (twin 2) has still not figured this out she gets her cot opened for her by twin 1 every time and they come walsing out the room. We have tried everything ... sitting in the room with them for over an hour, leaving the room and continuously putting them back in their cots, shouting, everything. Nothing works.

They are now awake past 8.00pm - 8.30pm every night while we fight with them and up at 4:30am in the morning!!! When they wake up they come through and get in our bed. Also a new thing. They only ever woke up at 6am earliest before all this nonsense started. They are so tired and miserable during the day now but each night gets worse and they get less sleep ... and so do we. We took their night time bottles away about two nights before twin 1 started climbing out the cot. Although they don't ask for their bottles anymore, do you think this could have started it? We did replace the bottles with a night time toy each which they have taken to. How do we fix the problem before it gets even more out of hand? We as parents are really battling here and need some advice. My eldest still goes to bed and wakes up normal times despite everything ... luckily she is a deep sleeper :)


Answer: Dear Jessie:

I don't think you will like my answer. However, my job is not to tell you what you want to hear. I know you have your hands full however, this is not "nonsense." The need to control the situation is what is causing the "battle."

Why on earth do you want to do battle with two year olds? They will win.

Now, lets get you back on track. First of all 2 year olds or for that matter 4 or 5 year olds do not have a sense of TIME. They are not schedulers. Children often don't tell time until they are about 8 years old.

Small children function by ROUTINES. Routines are not time based they are process based. We do this first, then this comes next, then this and then we are done...etc.

Often parents write and tell me they are consistent with their routines when what they really mean is that they are consistent with their schedules.

Schedules are for adults and expecting children to get with the program is just unrealistic.

Routines however are not broken. Schedules usually are the root cause for breaking routines.

Get into a solid bedtime routine. Start by slowing down the environment. This means turning off the tvs, radios, computers and and whatever about an hour before bedtime. If you bath them then start with bathing, move to massages, then night time stories, songs whatever you and they do together....take about an hour to move them to a full night sleep. There are great cd's out now with the nature music and a heartbeat in the background that helps even me to sleep soundly.

Another thing is to check on their sleep times. Maybe if they are still taking naps putting them to bed at 6:30 is not a good idea. It doesn't seem to be working. Either skip the daytime naps or put them to bed a little later. Are they getting enough exercise during the day or too much. Some children need more to tire them out, sometimes children get to much and can't wind down.

Either way let go of the need to control this situation and start adjusting and you will all be happier!

Best Wishes!

Dr. Mary Kay Keller
Hassle Free Bedtime? Click here!