Thursday, January 17, 2013

Post Holiday: Re-setting Toddlers' body clocks

One of my challenges after returning from holiday is getting the twins back on routine. Yes, I could be easier on them (and myself to a certain extend) and just go with the flow. Trust me, I am in awe of parents who can do that. Really I am. I wish I am more relaxed in this aspect and can just go with the flow. Even my mummy commented that my ways are 'very different' from hers. She did however, following 3 nights of interrupted sleep when the twins finally slept through the night from 7:00pm, that it was easy looking after them at night when we were out!
Singapore routine - the day routine was surprisingly, a smooth transition as we arrived at 8:00am and could implement the usual, lunch and afternoon nap routine. Bedtime was a little challenging as Singapore is 2 hours behind Brisbane. Nonetheless, it took 3 night and they were sorted.
The other difference in relation to our sleeping arrangement in Singapore is this - the kids shared our room. Just as well, I got rental cots to replicate what they are used to at home (they arrived at my parents 2 days prior to our arrivals).

Upon returning to Brisbane, our number one priority was to get the kids back on Brisbane time and sleeping through the night once again. We knew based on precious experiences with them when they were infants / when we were on holidays that, it will take us 3 not-for-the-faint hearted THREE NIGHTS.
This is what we did:
During the day
We did the usual. Play - feed - nap - play - feed - nap. They were so exhausted from the lack of sleep on the plane and the Summer heat made them drowsy so napping in their air-conditioned bedroom was not an issue.
Bedtime was a huge issue, as expected.
Stick to the Bedtime Routine
We replicate the same routine every single day regardless of where we are:
4:30pm - Dinner and Dessert of fresh fruit
5:15pm - Play / watch "Rio"
6:00pm - Bath Time
6:20pm - Milk Time
6:25pm - Story and Cuddles
6:35pm - Lights out
Night 1
The twins screamed-shouted-cried-called out for mummy and daddy. Oh boy! I wasn't prepared for the calling out. I stuck ear plugs in my ears so that I didn't hear them and went about doing what I had intended to do, with some difficulty because I knew my children were unsettled.
I went in once and assured them that I am there and will see them the next morning. No carrying, no cuddling, no patting because my toddlers are like koalas. Once they feel your arm, they latch on and DO-NOT-LET-GO, especially Charlotte.
It is certainly guilt trip and heart tugging stuff to state the least.
They cried-screamed-shouted-called out for us...wait for this, in turns! They were a team to be reckoned with. Daniel would go on for 30 minutes before he laid down to rest and then Charlotte would have a go for the next 30 minutes, etc. These kids aren't silly. They know how to work their twin thing to their advantage.

This went on for 1.5 hours and they went to sleep at 9:30pm and woke up at 7:30am the next morning.
Night 2
Night 2 will always be harder than night 1 because the kids are very determine. Pretty much the same thing happened except for a bit longer and more dramatic.

They went to bed by 9:45pm and woke up at 6:45am.

Night 3

Night 3
Charlotte fussed for 30 minutes and Daniel took over only for a mere 5 minutes. All was quiet. At 7pm. They woke up at 6:30am.
Mission Accomplished.
Regardless at whatever age, sleep training / re-setting children's body clocks for bedtime will always be a battle initially.
From my own experience, it is better to lay this foundation/practice when they are infants because as they get older, they can use words like mummy and daddy (+come with up with excuses like needing to drink water, etc) and I tell 'ya, it is very very tough. Much tougher. Always toddlers are so manipulative.
I am not giving up on their cots as yet. So long as they have not learnt how to climb out of it, I am keeping them because it's so much easier to contain them and the twins cannot knock on their bedroom room!!!!
Wish me luck when I do eventually have to get them out of cots and into beds. Any hints / tips will be greatly appreciated.

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