It’s been just over a year since my little guys (my 3rd set) left their cribs and graduated to their big kid beds. Transitioning out of cribs has never been a favorite phase of mine, and the reasons are obvious: they are no longer in the safety, security and (I’ll be honest) the controlled-restriction of their cribs! They would now be entering the adventurous world of “being loose” in big kid beds.
At 13 months, I placed crib tents (the white, high-domed netted, zip-up tents) upon their cribs because they began to demonstrate their frightening abilities to lift one leg over the side not knowing what would result could be a terrible fall. At one point, Benjamin nearly fell directly on his head, and would have if not for the cat-like reflexes of his mom catching him. Of course, it took his mom several minutes to recover from the use of her cat-like reflexes and sudden rush of adrenalin.
I used those same crib tents on my previous twins’ cribs because at 11 months one climbed out, and the other while witnessing in amazement, followed right after! I recall sitting on the floor and sobbing. I had two five-year-old twins and two not-even-one-year old boy/girl twins, and I needed NAP time for the babies to be easy and reliable so I could continue to home school my then kindergarteners. My mom, who had seen the crib tents while watching a television documentary on a family with quadruplets, immediately ran out and bought them for me when I wept that “the babies can climb out of their beds” to her over the phone that very day. She called her purchase of them a $130 investment in my sanity! By the time my middle set reached 2 and 1/2, they transitioned into big-kid beds, and by then I was, well, a little more ready.
As for my 3rd set, I knew the time had arrived when I noticed evidence of the attempts of a prison break from their tented cribs. Ben’s tent began to show his efforts of his trying to escape, as if he’d stashed a spoon from the prison cafeteria up his sleeve … I detected little holes in the white netting here and there that became bigger and bigger. Sean decided to pull at a corner seam along the inside of his crib tent and was able to push those wet diapers out and onto the floor that he so often would shed, only to then wet his crib sheets!
So there we were. We’d taken down the twin cribs for the third and LAST time, and set up the twin bunk beds that double as individual single beds against two opposite walls, each having its own bed rail. We’d bought these beds when I was pregnant with my second set of twins so that my eldest twins (4-year-olds at the time) would no longer have to share a full size bed together (which they graduated to from their cribs), and would finally have their own big girl beds.
As most of us who’ve been through this transition have experienced, the BIGGEST CHALLENGE now lay with KEEPING THEM IN BED once nap or bed time arrived. It was so bad with our first set, that we, out of desperation, would take “bed-time drives” around our neighborhood. This drive would begin after jammies were on and teeth were brushed so that the girls would fall asleep in the car after about 10-15 minutes, after which we would lift them out of their car seats and lay them down in their shared bed. We gated their bedroom into the hall so that if they awoke and we didn’t hear them, they couldn’t leave their room and get into any trouble/danger in the rest of the house while we slept.
REFUSING to resorting to this method with my second set, I simply told them to stay in bed! When they got out to play some more, I’d go right in and threaten them with “toy taking”, “no playground the next day”, or something to that effect. The family room was just off the kids’ rooms hallway, so I could hear every sound and could quickly zoom in there. Eventually they would settle down. Sigh. Yes, their room was gated as well.
This time around, well, the kids rooms are upstairs. My biggest challenge is that when I believe they’re settled and quiet, I leave to return downstairs, only to hear the “pitter-patter” above me! This, of course, occurs after we’ve had their settle-down story, said our prayers, had a quiet night-night song, and each had a snuggle and back rub once they’re tucked in. Some nights they stay in bed and crash, while other nights I find myself making many runs up the stairs, finding that they’d heard me coming (no matter how quietly I believe I’m prancing) and quickly jump back into their beds, slyly now resembling the little angels I’d left only minutes before.
Some nights I recruit one of my older kids to be on Patrol. Usually Brandon, whose room is just across from Ben and Sean’s, will be report the status of the toddlers who should be in bed. Bruce and I can resume our evening duties of laundry folding, bill-paying or simply TV-watching while Brandon gives us a regular report from the top of the stairs every few minutes. If one or both toddlers are “being naughty”, he’ll startle them with a quick, “GET BACK IN BED!” order … following which they quickly scamper back into their beds!
Now at having just turned 4, we still have trouble keeping them in bed once they’re told to stay there, but it is definitely getting better! These milestones and transition phases will always teach us new ways of handling the situations, but, as it is with all children, they’re ALL DIFFERENT and need to be handled somewhat differently depending upon personalities, will-power, and their reactions to being disciplined.
But rest assured, you can always expect an adventure when it comes to parenting multiples!