When things go bump in the night in our house now I don't immediately wake up Ben and get him to go downstairs brandishing a torch in the dark. I usually just roll over - I know it's my twins getting up for their regular middle of the night play session. When they started this (back when they first got out of their cots and went into beds) I was appalled. My twin girls had always slept amazingly well and I think I thought I had got it sussed. Well, how wrong I was!
At first I was strict, I sat outside the door of their room and put them back into bed every time they got out of bed. Sometimes this would be when they first went to bed, but soon it was just when they woke in the middle of the night - I would hear "Hope, wake up it's time to play!" and Anna would be in Hope's bed ready for whatever they decided to do! Then I tried being cross (when I say tried, I didn't need to try - I was cross, and angry, after sitting outside a door for several hours in the middle of the night). This just resulted in their tears and my own tears and their utter rebellion against me making them stay in their bed (which actually became impossible - I couldn't keep two of them in bed!)
I asked other parents of twins I knew if they remembered this. So desperate was I that I asked total random parents of twins I saw in the park if they experienced this. I trawled internet sites trying to find what other parents of twins had done to solve this problem - and in all these cases, found virtually nothing! In some cases it seems parents were strict for a few nights and soon (within a week or two) their twins got out of the habit. But still nearly 9 months on now, my girls play (sometimes up to 5 nights week) for at least several hours in the middle of the night. So in the end I have given up and chosen to ignore it.
They seem to be having a lovely time most nights. It has changed from being completely wild abandon at first - being able to do whatever they wanted in their bedroom without adults around (one night I went in and they had taken everything out of every drawer and storage box and made a huge pile in the middle of the room, "we've tidied up Mummy!" they proudly announced) - to now being creating 'tents' on beds with the curtains and playing boats or camping with teddies. Usually they go to sleep in the same bed when they get tired, which is between 5 and 6 o'clock and then they have a few more hours sleep until 9 or 10 am. So I quite often get a quiet morning, just me and Athol eating breakfast alone! I like to think that they are learning self control (when they know they are tired early in the morning they will go back to sleep) and that they are problem solving (when they both want to play different games) and that all these things will create more rounded individuals. But often I wonder if it is just a pragmatic "I need more sleep" kind of decision.
Whatever it is has made me realise - I was full of pride that my kids slept well - well, that's definitely been taken away! I don't want to find my identity in being a Mum to kids who sleep well - how fickle that turned out to be! I want to find my identity in Jesus who forgives my anger, pride and need for control - and who looks on me with grace and love despite my failings in this area!
And to all other parents of twins out there..........I don't think I can say for sure it gets better (although people assure me it will!), but I have learnt some hard lessons through this - and have (usually in hindsight!) been able to laugh a lot about the crazy stuff Anna and Hope do in the middle of the night.