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…

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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!

    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?

    The return of chicken pox

    I thought we had ticked the box. I believed we crossed the river never to come back. I thought we had been to battle and come back victorious… but I was wrong. Chicken pox is back and it is taking no prisoners!

    Last year both boys had chicken pox. We had one falling ill with it and, as by medical school textbook, the other followed exactly 15 days later. We were lucky it wasn’t too itchy. We didn’t have any major scaring and the main problem was the waking up at night for the cough (apparently a very usual symptom, who knew?!). If you read this blog though, you know we are used to waking up during the night. With or without out highly infectious diseases!

    As everybody knows, being a virus, you build an immune system to chicken pox so you can’t get it again. Or at least I thought so… in extremely rare cases, only on a leap year, if you live at a certain latitude and altitude and on a new moon night, your child may get it again!?! Actually there’s a more scientific explanation for it, but I’m not interested. I know it’s all been organised to annoy me and no one is going to change my mind about it!

    Now let’s see if B gets it AGAIN as well… keep reading! 

    An empty house

    Everyone needs a break at some point. My point is usually during the first school term. If you are not a teacher it is difficult to explain, but basically teachers work only a few weeks at the time because they work all the time in those few weeks. It’s not sustainable so God invented half-term. 

    If on top of your full time job, you also have twins toddlers you will reduce yourself to a comatose state, your house to a rubbish tip and your fridge/cupboards to a wasteland. My half-term begun by sleeping 20 hours over a 36 hours period. I was exhausted!

    The boys and daddy went to stay with the grandparents, so that mummy could recharge her batteries. She could also rebuild the house brick by brick, she could eliminate some interesting leftovers from the fridge and even empty all washing baskets. So a break for mum is not really the same as a holiday or a weekend at the spa, but it feels like the best time ever anyway. There’s no screaming and no waking up at 6AM on a Saturday. There is no eating dinner at 6.00 PM, because 6.03 is too late. The programmes on TV are not animated and there are no trains involved, but most importantly mummy can have a wee by herself!

    This time I don’t even feel guilty. Maybe I am wiser or maybe even more exhausted, but I really believe I deserve a break. They are having a great time in the countryside, chasing toads, playing with model trains and riding the loan mower. I have an empty, silence and clean house for a few days, they get spoiled by grandpa and grandma… It’s a win-win situation.

    Do I miss the cuddles? Yes. Do I miss the screaming? No. As I said to my husband on the phone, I look at their pictures and I miss them, but I also enjoy the silence in the house. He offered to take a video of them screaming tomorrow. What a generous husband I have!
    Another thing I really missed is not having to plan dinner. Whatever is in the fridge/freezer will do. I worked from 3 till 6.30 today and then I adventured towards the kitchen looking for food. No time pressure, no hungry toddler at my feet and I could even use the oven without standing guard to avoid a trip to the burning unit! 

    An empty house can really be a blessing… Once a year. 

    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…

    The nightmare

    I often wonder what my boys dream of at night and even more why sometimes they wake up screaming. Do they really have nightmares? Once a friend told me that her little girl fell off a slide at the playground and then for a few weeks she would have nightmares about it and wake up screaming in the middle of the night. That made perfect sense for her as the little girl would talk about her dream when she was awake. My boys on the other hand don’t really talk yet, so it stays a mystery what they dream of. At least till earlier tonight…

    It’s 8.55PM and Sue and Mel are about to announce who will leave the Bake Off tent tonight, when I hear a scream in the monitor. I wander upstairs ready for the usual back-to-sleep-now conversation, when I find a very scared T sitting in his bed with no intention of going back to sleep. He is very upset, he is sobbing and not even seeing mamma calms him down. He obviously had a nightmare. When I ask what’s wrong he actually replies instead of crying. In his own words he says he had a nightmare about a train… “Nooooooo! Choo choo! Nooooooo!”. 

    Has the train derailed? Has he been run over by a train? B stole his favourite train? We will never know. All we know is “Nooooooo! Choo choo! Nooooooo!”

    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 power of mum’s voice

    I haven’t spent a full night awake since the boys were much younger. Now the only reason to be awake in the middle of the night is an illness, but God invented Calpol for it (or maybe it was a scientist?!). What do you do when Calpol AND Ibuprofen don’t work? You sing…

    image

    At the age of two there’s nothing as powerful as your mum’s voice. If she sings she can cure almost anything! The atrocious pain which makes a little boy scream and scream and scream, can be taken away by the magic of mum’s voice. The beauty of this is that, not only the little boy will feel better, but mummy will feel a hero. A superhero, in fact!

    Unfortunately mums don’t run on batteries so after 7 hours of on/off singing (instead of sleeping), they have to go to bed. Grandad is here to take over, but he doesn’t have mummy’s magic power so he will have to go back to basics: ibuprofen and TV. Good luck grandad…

    Mummy is going to sleep!