Having twins can be the most amazing experience of your life. It can also cause you to wake up in the morning wishing you were someone else. Twinning offers an honest depiction of life with twins from a mom who tries to keep things somewhere in the middle.
For a lot of twin parents, transitioning their twins from cribs to beds can be a nightmare. This is one of the few areas of raising twins where I’m lucky enough to say that I had no problem— because I put it off as long as I possibly could, until my twins were almost four years old.
I actually got that advice from veteran twin moms who warned that the end of cribs in a shared nursery is the end of a peaceful bedtime. They told me stories about spending two hours after bedtime putting their toddler twins back in bed or spending an hour laying with each twin until they fell asleep. One mom told me to imagine a slumber party for 2-year-olds and said that’s what her nights were like after moving her twins from cribs to beds. I was sold—we were sticking with cribs for as long as possible.
Early on, I’d realized that containment was essential to a mother’s sanity while raising twins. Bouncy seats, swings, ExerSaucers, play zones, strollers and cribs—these were all my best friends. If your kids are in a safe place they can’t get out of, your chances of having a moment of peace or getting something done rise dramatically. And as far as containment goes, cribs win the Most Valuable prize because your twins spend the most time in them.
As my twins grew from infants to toddlers, I tried to make sure they enjoyed being in their cribs—they had little music boxes they could turn on and off themselves, soft books, snuggly stuffed animals, and personalized toddler pillows that they loved to lay their heads on. We were good for a while.
Then the escape artist struck.
I heard the “thunk” from my bedroom and went running to the nursery. I had figured my daughter would eventually climb out of her crib, since she was the adventurous, curious one (a.k.a hellraiser). Sure enough, there she was on the ground, howling at me with a furious little face. Luckily our nursery was carpeted, so she wasn’t hurt, just angry.
This is the point where most parents think, “Time to go buy beds.” Or they go the bed tent route. As far as bed tents go, kids either like them or hate them. My son was tall for a toddler, so I didn’t think he’d appreciate a mesh ceiling on his head, and I knew my daughter would be like a caged animal and would probably shred any bed tent I put up, so I didn’t even consider them.
I also didn’t consider toddler beds. My twins were not even two and a half at the time, so I was hoping to keep them in cribs for at least another year. I had to teach my twins that climbing out of their crib was dangerous and not allowed. Any time one of them would put a leg up on the front of their crib I’d say, “No no! You could fall and get hurt. No climbing in cribs!” And they learned. We also had a video monitor that allowed me to keep an eye on my daughter during nap times and bedtime. If I saw her plotting a leap, I’d go up to the nursery and repeat my “no climbing” mantra. My daughter only climbed out again once and my son never did.
As they neared four years old, I talked to my twins about moving to “big kid beds,” making it something to look forward to. I told them that our main rule with beds was that once you were in bed, you don’t get out of the bed. They could call to us, of course, for water or to go to the bathroom, but they weren’t allowed to get out of bed themselves. It’s a simple rule, but it is the reason our transition went so smoothly.
With a toddler, there is no reasoning; there are no rules that can be understood, so once they’re out of their cribs, it’s a free-for-all. To enforce our rule about staying in bed, the disassembled cribs were kept in the basement so my kids knew that if they didn’t follow the rules, they’d go back to cribs. (Yes, this is a threat, and probably earns me a Bad Parent badge in modern parenting books, but hey, do what works for you.)
All in all, the transition to beds was a fun, exciting time for my twins. I let them pick out their own bedding, and they chose decals to decorate the walls behind their beds. When the beds arrived, my husband and I made a big deal out of them, calling relatives to let the kids tell them their exciting “big kid” news. The first night they slept in their beds, my twins were thrilled and after their usual nighttime chat, they went right to sleep.