An alternative bedtime routine

Our usual bedtime routine is very simple. At 7PM  we go upstairs for a bath, then the pyjamas go on, then teeth brushing and finally stories. At around 8 lights are out and the twins start their pyjamas party! There’s a lot of talking, someone will ask for a drink and someone else will want the toilet. After a very very long time, they will finally fall asleep. Usually around 9.

Yesterday we had to disrupt the routine as we were 150 miles away from home and ready for an almost 3 hours journey. 

At 7 as usual we went upstairs, but after brushing some teeth and putting the pyjamas on, we all went back downstairs and the boys played with grandad’s iPad while mummy and daddy loaded the car. By 7.40 we were all in the car with seat belts on and ready to go. The journey has started: 150 miles left. 

After an afternoon of playing in the garden and trampolining, we thought the boys were going to fall asleep in no time… How wrong we were! After 10 minutes of chatting and asking for food, we agreed that it was time to go to sleep and be quiet. The agreement was obviously unilateral as the silence lasted less than a mile. 

As per usual, B asked for something to drink, this time though he poured half of the content all over his pyjamas. Mmh… The next request was right on time. T needed the toilet. A stop by the side of the motorway had to do (no services for miles in East Anglia). Once we were all back in the car, I discussed the need for the boys to go to sleep. They agreed and CLOSED their eyes… The fake snoring and consequential giggling started. Only 100 miles to go. 

T asked for a story, after all I did say it was bedtime. So my husband, a man who barely remembers what he watched on TV the night before, recited by heart an entire Hairy Maclary book… Maybe he had read that one a few too many times! 

“Now it’s time to sleep” I announced at the end of the story. It was 9.10PM. The boys told me they were awake and not very tired. Another 70 miles to go… 

A little time later we arrived at a tunnel. On the other side a grey cloud made the sun disappeared almost instantaneously and the boys started to be scared. “Mummy, it is dark” they cried. “Mummy, there’s a ghost!” They were not going to sleep now, were they? The rain started to pour down and the grey cloud got even darker (and scarier). 

30 miles left in our journey. The rain had stopped (and the ghost had left). We had 2 minutes of constant silence. My husband asked “Are they asleep?”. I didn’t even had to check to know their were still awake. 

20 miles left and finally the eyes are starting to close. We had some hope… a huge police convoy with lights and motorbikes passed by! We simply could not believe it. The boys went wild at the sight of flashing blue lights!

At 9.51PM their beautiful little eyes were finally closed… It took 131 minutes for them to fall asleep, but we won! 

Only 15 miles left…

10 reasons why my toddlers wake up at night… at least one of them!

  1. He lost his dog soft toy (found!)
  2. Too hot/cold (easy, I can deal with this one)
  3. Teething (when does this end???)
  4. His brother is screaming (…and I’m going to strangle him!)
  5. He lost his train (later found just under his own bottom!)
  6. He needed a Duplo polar bear (no, I’m not kidding this actually happened)
  7. He wanted mummy/daddy (more daddy than mummy, right? Especially after 1AM please)
  8. His brother went to his bed and woke him up for no good reason (argh!!)
  9. There was a disturbance in the Force (he didn’t tell me that, but my Jedi instinct could feel it)
  10. He wanted to catch a flight to see his nonna in Italy (what?!)

    I have given up! It is obvious that I won’t have a full night sleep till they leave for university. 16 years and counting… 

    The sleepover

    It started 2.5 years ago and it has not stopped yet. Every night there’s a reason to be silly and stay up as long as possible and when you have your best mate with you… The sky is the limit!

    In the past few weeks we reached the top of the top. We had several giggling sessions. We had one shouting a name of a Paw Patrols pup and the other replying with another name. We had B taking all of his clothes off! Why?? And finally the other night we had the inevitable twin thing: they were both in bed together.

    They looked so lovely together, in silence, with no arguing… I had to take a picture.

    After contemplating our boys, we moved B back to his bed and noticed that not only he moved to sleep with T, but he brought all his toys with him. He brought a Duplo giraffe, a bear and a pig and his digger which he usually sleeps with. T was asleep with his reindeer and a goat when this happened, so we moved the correct animals to the right bed and left the rest. We now know that if T wakes up in the middle of the night without what he started off with, he will wake you up as well to help the search for the missing item. And looking for a Duplo reindeer at 1.30AM is not my idea of fun!

    Gordon in trouble

    As for many little boys who lives in the UK, Thomas the tank engine is an obsession. An addiction that cannot be cured. My boys are not immune and in fact they learned at least 10 different train names before they could mention anyone of their friends at nursery. 

    “Gordon in trouble” is one of the many books we have about Thomas and his engine friends. For some reason it has become T’s favourite as a bedtime story. We don’t even have to guess which book he is going to choose. We know it will be “Gordon in trouble”.

    In brief this is a story of the train engine Gordon, who cannot pull his coaches anymore because he needs a wash, and of James, who takes his place but cannot go up Gordon’s hill by himself. This really simple story has changed our family life…
    First of all, my husband has read this so many times he knows it by heart. This is remarkable for someone who cannot remember birthdays and people’s names (without his wife help).
    Secondly everything that slope up has become a “Gordon’s hill”. Mummy’s bent knee while sitting on the couch. A ripple on the carpet. The road going up and out of our close. A cushion on the couch with a slight angle. Literally anything that a toy train can climb.

    “Careful! The hills are slippery” is the line that Gordon says to James in the book. My husband and I now say that to each other (and the boys) on a regular basis. “Careful mummy” says my husband in the mornings when I am about to leave for work. “The hills are slippery” he adds quickly with a grin. 

    If our lives can be changed this much just by reading a 6 pages book. What is going to happen to us when we hit Harry Potter in a few years time? Are we going to wear cloaks and drink butter beer at the dinner table? I can’t wait! 

    One way or another I’m sure we will be fine as long as we are careful… because the hills are slippery.

    Nanna

    “Nanna” means sleep in Italian and it’s the boys favorite word. They don’t like sleeping at night, but they love to “play nanna”. They pretend to sleep and then jump up to surprise you. They close their eyes and snore. They are proper little actors! 

    They can play this game anywhere. Obviously in their beds, but also on the couch or in the car and lately even at the dinner table. They just love it. 
    Level 2 of the game is forcing you to sleep and then jump on you or scream to wake you up. In my house,  “mamma nanna” doesn’t mean “I’m tired and I want to go to bed”. It means “mummy close your eyes and pretend to sleep”… so I can awake you up by screaming in your ears!

    The best part is when they play together and they both shut their eyes really tight, make a loud snoring noise and then jump up super smiley and start to giggle! 

    I know this is not the most exciting post you have read so far, but I am writing this blog so that they boys could read it when they are older and wouldn’t want them to miss out on this lovely happy memory, would I?

    Sleep tight little one

    After months of planning, after reading several blogs of twins mums on the topic and spending a few hundreds pounds on new furniture, we finally put the boys in their big boy beds.

    Despite me telling them about the change, they obviously had no idea. Their faces lit up with happiness when they saw their room transformed. The lack of dark cots makes the room looks so much bigger. Or in other words, a better place to jump around! Also the white furniture gives the room a completely new look. The carpet that we moved from their playroom though, gives a tone of familiarity which is very reassuring at this age. 

    We let them “choose” their beds. Or more precisely T chose his bed (as he always chooses his toys) and B happily picked the other one. We know they may want to switch tomorrow, but we will put their name on and try to make it stick with it. Twins always share everything, but part of growing up is to recognise that maybe you don’t have to.

    In a strange way I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning to see if B will scream for mummy as usual or if he will surprise us. We know T will try to open the door and leave, but we made sure that’s not going to happen by removing the door handle from the inside. A little extreme maybe, but functional. I actually was so surprise T didn’t try to open the door as soon as we left, but I believe that doing the switch on Friday night was a great idea. Extra tired boys after a full week at nursery!

    Nothing left but crossing my fingers for a good night sleep…

    Night night

    Most people with young children have a bedtime routine. If you have twins, you hang on to your routine as if your life depended on it! Changes to the schedule are as rare as a new pope and you need a conclave to agree on them. Or at least I thought so…

    My mum (nonna) has been visiting for a few weeks now and the twins subconsciously decided to include her in their routine. They changed it slowly. One night at the time. They were subtle about it and before too late their bedtime was extended to 8PM and they added a “jumping on nonna’s bed” session between bath and storytime. 

    They always tried to run around when asked to walk between the bathroom and their bedroom, but we were usually too tired to let them do it. Herding the flock in the right direction was always a difficult job, but an essential one, too. Moving straight to storytime seemed better (for us, at least). It kept them calm and ready to go to sleep. 

    In almost a year (we started this routine in September) they obviously changed and grew, but we didn’t really notice. 7.30 is too early for them now. They are a little older and it is summertime. We needed a new plan and they organised everything for us!

    It is great to have another member of the family here for them to interact with and it’s only right that she should also be involved in the bedtime routine. Now after bathing we all sit on nonna’s bed and play a little. There’s some jumping, some rolling, a little head bashing and a lot of laughter! It’s a twin boys bedtime routine! 

    The 15 minutes wash cycle

    When I bought my washing machine two years ago, I was puzzled to see that among the normal washing cycles there was also a 30 degrees 15 minutes super quick cycle. I often wonder who could be in such a hurry to wash something and only have 15 minutes to do it. Apparently having toddlers answers a lot of questions…

    At 1.30AM on a Wednesday morning normal people are asleep in their comfy warm bed, but I have twin toddlers so I am not in the normal people category. I was awake and using the 15 minutes super quick cycle on my washing machine!

    It all started when B woke up and screamed. Although this happens often, this was a very strange scream. Almost as if he was hurt. So I went to investigate and found him being sick all over his bed. I let my husband deal with him while I changed his bed and calmed down his brother. After a wash, a new pyjamas (for B) and 2 long lullabies (for everyone), both boys were in bed and ready to go back to sleep. Even daddy was back in bed. Mums though, can’t really go back to bed that easily, so I adventured downstairs.

    Putting everything in the washing machine to be washed immediately was an obvious choice, but choosing the 15 minutes cycle was a brilliant idea! In 15 minutes I managed to empty the dishwasher, drink a cup of hot milk, get myself ready to go back to sleep, prepared a hot water bottle and even started to write this entry to my blog.  What a perfect length washing cycle!

    Can you make mummy smile?

    If you had a bad day at work or you’re simply very tired, a smile from your son or a hug from your daughter are all you need. Sometimes though you need a little bit more to make you smile.

    Being able to sit down in front of the TV for about 10 minutes can make or break your day. I often watch TV after the kids are in bed, but watching a pre-dinner show, like I used to do in my previous life, seems very strange and so unusual.

    There are things in life which will make you smile no matter how hard your day has been. Watching the boys coping each other at dinner, by bashing a spoon on the tray, is simply hilarious. That made me smile.

    If you are a mum of more than one baby still in nappies, an offer on Pampers from your supermarket could really change your day!

    The latest cutest thing I’ve seen is T bringing B his teddy when he cries. That made me smile (with pride).

    I know it shouldn’t make me smile, but some of the accidents a toddler can get involved in are just too funny not to laugh! Slipping, tripping, crashing or simply falling, but the most spectacular is always the bumping of the head. Sometimes I wonder how humans survive their first few years without wearing an helmet!

    My favourite part of the day by far is storytime before going to bed. B and T will fight, hit each other, try to bite and even scratch you. So why is my favourite part of the day? Watching B hugging T before going to sleep is heart melting. That would make anyone smile.

    Bedside table

    A lot of things have changed in the past 16 months, but nothing has changed as much as my bedside table.

    I know it sounds strange but 17 months ago I had a lamp, a picture of me at 10 months with my dad, baby books, pregnancy vitamins and a box of tissue. Then the twins arrived and with them a lot of new things to dump on my bedside table just before collapsing on my bed.

    When I was still breastfeeding, I had a breastfeeding pump on it, lots of water and a collection of muslin squares. The baby books were quickly substituted by “how to breastfeed multiples” and “what to do when you are having two”. Another important change was the numerous ear plugs. 2 should be enough usually, but in the dark you definitely need more!

    After Christmas 2014, the boys switched to formula, so I had lots of empty milk bottles at the end of every night. I also had an alarm clock set at 3AM to go and switch places with my husband and let him sleep from 3 to 7. 4 hours each seemed a lot at the time then. My dad’s picture was there to remind me of an easier time.

    At 6 months, T finally decided to sleep more than 1 hour at the time, so my husband and I could finally go back to sleep in our own bed without shifts! The bedside table started a revolution. No more bottles, but a book to read at bedtime. For a brief period I thought everything was going back to normal…

    Then the teething started. The bottles came back accompanied by various syringes for Calpol. The nights were long again, the bedtime reading book ended up in the drawer not to be seen again.

    After a long long summer, we reached the time for mum to go back to work and the boys to start nursery. My bedside table still had a bit of room for the occasional bottle of antibiotics to fight ear infections or a red pen to mark some last minute homework. My dad’s picture was still there to guard over me.

    When Christmas got closer, a tablet appeared on the dusty bedside table. Last minute presents have to be bought online as the only time available to a twins mum is after bedtime! Some more medicines started to be deposited as well, with winter come sore throats, colds and pleuratis. Closely followed by codeine, throat sprays and Sudafed. My dad’s picture was sadly lost behind a pile of used tissues.

    A new year a new bedside table, a bigger one to hold more things. One ready for the life ahead, but also an empty one as the boys can now walk and grab everything. Drugs cannot be left out, a tablet would go toward certain death, even a book cannot be seen on the table without being dragged somewhere else in the house. The only thing that is still there is that picture of a 10 months old baby trying to steal her father’s hat. Somehow the boys look at it, but don’t pick it up. It’s almost as if it was untouchable. It will stay there to guide us through the next phase, through more sleepless nights and hopefully towards some lazy Sunday mornings in the future.