Category: nightlife with twins

Four tips to make sibling room-sharing easier

Four tips to make sibling room-sharing easier

Last week I wrote about how chaotic it can get when siblings share rooms. And yet it has huge benefits. That aside, almost everyone who read that piece had warm memories despite the squabbles. Also, one might not have the luxury of two (or more) separate rooms for each of the children.

So here I am, back today, with some tips that worked for me.

For once, I am glad I had twins because it made this a little easier. I wasn’t dealing with differing age groups where sleep times may not coincide. That would be a major issue with children of different age groups. One could perhaps let the younger one turn three or four before shifting them to a separate room.

We co-slept with the twins till they were about six. The Husband, I and the children slept on three beds – a double bed plus a single joined together. By the time they were six we were all squeezed together in one terribly tangled bunch and I, for one, couldn’t get any sleep at all. The Husband, by the way, had no issues. He’d start snoring as soon as the lights were out.

But I’m digressing.

Here are four things that have helped us keep our sanity.

Start early

I found six years a good age to start though a few years earlier wouldn’t have hurt too. The children were old enough to not need us at night and yet young enough to be glad of each other’s presence across the room. During those first few months they were comforted by each others’ company. In fact, I’d often find them snuggled together in the same bed. The thought that they had each other close was reassuring for me too.

Have clearly demarcated personal and shared spaces

This is the single most important factor. I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t want to tear all your hair out, demarcate which areas are shared and which are each child’s personal space, very very clearly. For instance H and N have separate beds and separate cupboards for their clothes and school books. But they have a common bookshelf and a common soft board. After a big row they even demarcated walls – because N wanted to put up posters of people H absolutely couldn’t stand.

Have basic rules in place

Since they are sharing the room both of them have to adhere to some basic rules. We have lights off rule by 9pm since N is an early-to-bed person. H likes to read late into the night on weekends so then he moves to the living room. Mercifully they share a taste in music but we make sure they have earphones handy if one of them doesn’t want the ‘noise’.

Have separate study areas, preferably in separate rooms

This was a bit of tough decision to take. Ideally I would have liked them to study quietly in their own room. But that didn’t really happen. When one wanted to read aloud the other one would protest. So now H does his school work in my study and things are relatively better.

Much as I try to separate them, they have a tendency to stick together like opposing poles of a magnet. They have periods of extreme affection when they are inseparable and then, in a flash, they are arguing. That’s something I have to live with.

A rant

A rant

Do you have days when nothing seems to be coming together? When you wake up each morning with a fresh resolve for a cheerful day and watch the resolve done and dead within a few hours? When the kids just won’t stop whining? When every interaction with them is a struggle? When, just as you fix one situation, another one is upon you? 

It’s been a bit like that over the last week or two. The twins have been down with a bunch of real and imagined ailments. That I am not able to figure out which is which is driving me crazy.

First H complained of throat pain. Over the evening it escalated, and by night time he was wringing his hands and crying out each time he swallowed. After a panicked phone call to my doctor SIL I rushed out to buy medicine. As I got back I heard him singing, yes singing out loud, loud enough to be heard outside the house. And it has returned each night – the hand wringing and the moaning hasn’t stopped despite my threats and pleadings. 

Then it was N’s turn. She complained of a headache. Do kids have headaches? Anyway, since she rarely falls ill, I assumed she just wanted a day at home (since H had called in sick a few days back) and I went along with it. She stayed home, read, drew, coloured, crafted and cycled through the day and seemed all fine till evening. And then the ‘ache’ was back moving to her stomach accompanied with ‘nausea’ (‘every time I eat I feel like puking’) and loss of appetite. Back I was to the SIL wondering if the vague symptoms indicated jaundice till I ruled it out.

That’s how it’s been between the two of them.

Do I sound over-anxious? Yeah, I do, even to myself. But at that point their illnesses seem very real and very worrisome. I wonder if kids have any clue how their vague and casual complaints leave mums stressed.

And then there are mosquitoes….

Many nights in a row H has been waking me up because he hears a ‘buzz’. He’s mortally scared of mosquitoes – scared, not annoyed like the rest of us. I’ve tried everything – from repellent gadgets to creams. He has always been a mosquito magnet but I’m beginning to think the buzz is more in his head than anywhere else. Each night he walks into my room at ungodly hours, shutting doors and windows till I suffocate, screaming if he hears a buzz and then falling asleep leaving me waiting for the alarm so I can get on with my day. 

Mornings find me irritable with a body ache that refuses to go. I am unable to go to the gym which means hanging out at home feeling horribly fat and cranky (Ugh!). I resent every phone call, every knock at the door, even the maid – anything that comes between me and my shut eye, which just doesn’t happen. It’s a bit like I was back to their baby years with the sleep starvation.

I’ve been wondering if it’s that’s what making me over-anxious. After all the kids couldn’t have changed overnight. I should be used to their myriad illnesses.  I AM used to them. I could always figure out the real from the fake. Now I just cannot seem to.

This is unusual too – this rant. I do not usually rant unless I have a physical person sitting in front of me – when I bug the h*** out of them – someone from my list of ‘privileged’ few :-). Unfortunately  that hasn’t been possible and you have had to bear the brunt of it. 

On a positive note the discovery of the day has been that a good bath seems to wash away a lot of my crabbiness. Highly recommended for bad days when everything seems to be going wrong. That and a change in schedule seems to make me feel better.

As a new week comes up I have my fingers crossed.

When husbands take charge

When husbands take charge

As the clock started its inexorable journey towards the nine o clock deadline the frantic pace of activity increased. Between wrapping up dinner, clearing the table and doing the beds I was trying to get the kids to brush and wash up before bedtime. “How I wish they would sleep on their own”, I complained.
My normally taciturn husband shifted his attention from the telly for a millisecond to comment on my tirade. “U haven’t trained them well,” said he, “They should have been sleeping on their own by now. You need to be strict.”
That was the fuse for my already frayed nerves.
“Train them yourself. Get them to sleep on their own,” I shot back.

Not one to refuse a challenge my husband retorted with a, “You just watch”. He proceeded to drive the kids to the bedroom while I walked off to my long untouched laptop.

I opened a half finished article I was working on as I heard him launch on a story starting with a, “One story and then I will go out and you sleep on your own, okay?”
I strained to listen to the response, which seemed certainly lukewarm. I firmly pulled my attention from the kids’ bedroom back to my laptop.

I had barely managed to get the thread of what I’d been typing when two tiny hands waved at me from the doorway, “guess whose hands are these,” said a pretend gruff voice and was followed with a bellow “Come right back Naisha.” The hands disappeared instantaneously.

Silence prevailed for some time and was then followed by sounds of loud thumping (apparently my husband was ‘patting’ the kids to sleep, which they’d long outgrown). Predictably enough then came sounds of crying. I blocked out the sounds and doggedly continued to sit at the computer. But not for long.

H was out with the complaint, “papa is smacking us.”
“Tell him not to,” said I as I ordered him back to bed.
Five minutes and it was N’s turn. “Mama can you please put us to sleep?” That, with the sweetest smile ever.
“Sleep with papa, today” said I.
“Papa has ‘germs’ on his face and I don’t like it”, she reasoned, referring to dad’s stubble.
“Well don’t cuddle then, sleep in your own bed,” said I trying to be ‘stern’.
She walked away… then back she came.
“May I give you a huggie before I go, please?” she queried.
“I like your smell,” she pronounced as she extricated herself from my hug. Then with a forlorn look she walked away to the bedroom blowing kisses all the way, which I was supposed to catch and pocket.
From the room I heard H threatening me, “Katti mama.. I’ll never ever talk to you.”

She the ‘poor girl’ he the ‘angry young man’, her pathos his anger – lethal combination. Too much to resist. I put the computer on standby with a sigh. Another year maybe, I promised myself. By five I’ll have them sleeping on their own.

No sooner was I was in the room and daddy was out. As I started on a story I could hear him happily tuning in to his favourite channel.

Back to square one.

Another night

Another night

Another night time story…
Rather hectic day today.. farewell rounds seem to have started as we prepare to leave for Pune next week. Went to a friend’s place for lunch.. then a get-together with more friends in the evening. When we got home it was past eight. Since the kids had had rather heavy snacks quite close to dinner time I thought I’d do away with dinner. So I gave them a banana each and took them to bed.

After our story routine.. I thought I’d see some peaceful sleeping. However, that was not to be! After a few minutes of silence H sat up staring into the darkness. I called out to him, asked him what was worrying him. “I’m hungry,” he announced. Thank Goodness for bananas. I handed him one then waited patiently. He made his way through two of them. (It bugs the hell out of me that the entire brushing routine is down the drain).

Obviously N had to follow suit. H slept off and after telling her to sleep on her own I came out. Ten minutes later I see her peeping from behind the wall. Apparently she couldn’t keep the banana down and messed her diaper. So back it was to washing, putting on a fresh diaper and tucking her in.

 

Have you ever seen someone yawing and eating together? Watch H.
“I’ll eat two bananas.. no… no three…” that’s Hrit again.
After thought: When men stare thoughtfully at nothing.. they’re probably hungry.
Courting Sleep

Courting Sleep

Why is it that when you’re in a hurry to get the kids to sleep that they take maximum time? Maybe it’s the old funda of time seeming to pass slowly when you want it to go fast.

I was just settling down to some interesting writing when I realised it was sleep time for the kids. With my eyes on my laptop I egged them on to finish their bedtime routine on their own – face wash, brush, loo… Then there was nothing to be done but to put the laptop on standby and move to the bedroom. Diapers and odomos application and then finally we were in bed. 8.30pm.

Then followed the ritual story, which I limited to one (Can go on to five or six on days when we have time and I’m in the mood). Just as I was looking forward to some serious attempts at sleeping Hrit says, “May I tell a story, please?” “No,” was my instinct.. but I agreed. Then obviously Naisha wanted to tell a story first, “First ladies, no mama,” says she. So then I had to deal with who would go first. I granted first rights to Hrit (on the grounds that it was he who came up with the idea of telling a story.. Every ‘judgement’ I pass has to be justified to the aggrieved party.. Naisha this time).

After a long winded tale of monsters and snakes with a few monkeys thrown in.. he finally ever-aftered the story. “Boys like monster stories and girls like dolly stories,” observes Naisha who I was hoping would be at least half asleep by now. No luck.

Then had to listen to the ‘How mama papa got Hrit Naisha’ story for the millionth time. Finally it was all done… maybe now they’ll sleep.
“I want to tell you something,” says Hrit.
“No,” me in a firm voice bordering on the angry. He senses the underlying danger and retracts, “I’ll tell you tomorrow morning.”
“You’d better,” I reply.

As I turn towards Naisha I realise she’s sulking. “What happened?” I ask. “I smiled at you and you didn’t smile back.” Gawd…. ‘Sorry, sorry darling.. I didn’t see.. it’s dark, isn’t it?” “Let’s open the curtains,” suggests Naisha. Bad, bad, bad idea. I promise to watch out for her smile in the future, paste the sweetest smile I can muster on my face and start patting her to sleep. With eyes closed she mutters, “Main sab ko bataoongi.. didi ko, papa ko, Rinku masi ko ki maine aap ko smile di aur aapne mujhe nahin di.” Well too bad, I think.

Where’s Hrit now? I see him far at the edge of the bed… reclining, mind you not lying down, reclining like Omar Khayyam.. one leg bent at the knee, staring pensively ( in the dark?) at the wall and performing a silent action rhyme. I need to scream or give him a solid whack. But wait.. both would delay sleep proceedings.. so wait some more, count to ten, then “Hrit baby come here bachcha.. where are you?”.. sugar and sweet! He smiles and rolls over to sleep on my hand. God his head feels heavy but never mind if it all makes him sleep early.. Great. Anything goes.

Five minutes pass.. The kids are quiet… with eyes wide open.. sigh… I sneak in a few frustrated smses to a friend (sometimes my sister). Can’t believe not even one is asleep. Then I feel Hrit’s breathing evening out… I sneak a hopeful look at him. Yesssssss!!!! Yes Yes Yes! He’s asleep. 9.15.

Turn to look at Naisha… no luck here. Well Naisha’s slept on her own sometimes. I decide to give it a shot. I start up from bed “Mama’s going out, you sleep on your own, okay baby.” “Why? Do you have work?” she questions. I try not to lie… what I’m doing is not exactly work, it might translate into work but…. so I say, “Not really.” “Well go but don’t switch on the TV,” she admonishes. She knows I work with the TV on. I hang on to my temper with both hands. “Why,” I query. “Because then I’ll want to watch too,” says she coolly.

What the heck, I fume. Not only am I explaining myself to a four-year-old but also now I need her permission to watch TV…. Motherhood’s made a baby of me. I lie back frustrated. “You remain a baby then.. always, don’t ever learn to sleep by yourself, ” I grumble at her. Oblivious to my sracasm she cuddles up and says, “Don’t go till I’m faaaaast asleep.” I peek at the time on my mobile. 9.30.

I watch Naisha. Her eyelids are fluttering.. sure sign that sleep’s close by. I begin to wonder how soon I can sneak out and get back on my laptop and then.. ‘aaaaahhhh’ she wails. Her earring is caught in the cushion cover and is pulling at her freshly pierced ear. I gently distangle her, curse the day I decided to use embroidered cushion covers and the day I got her ear pierced. Don’t get me wrong.. I know she’s hurt and I am comforting her but I can’t deny the niggling thought that says, “another 15 minutes gone.” God I soooo want her to sleep.

Finally she realises my restlessness and takes pity, “Go mama,” says she, “I’ll sleep on my own.” I bound up from the bed, “Thanks darling. Good girl.” A kiss and a good night and I’m out. 9.45. An hour and 15 minutes since I took them to bed and she’s still awake. I know she’ll drop off on her own.

I’m back at my laptop but the thoughts refuse to come. I can’t think of anything but Hrit and Naisha. They’re SUCH babies and they DO try my patience. But I love them. And so I’ve spent 40 minutes writing about them rather than what I should actually be writing!

PS: Who ever said I didn’t have patience… needs to speak up now.

On my other blog: Beat About The Book

In Search of the Self #BookBytes -2

In Search of the Self #BookBytes -2

For #BookBytes this week, I have here an excerpt from The Liberation of Sita by Volga. This short read, packs quite a feminist punch. In this passage Ahilya talks to Sita, telling her to find her own self. You means you, nothing else. You are not just the wife of Rama. There is something more […]