Sibling Rivalry at Bedtime


Our twins are constantly fighting over who gets Mama’s attention. Our plan is to set some ground rules and come up with a fair system for who gets to have their bedtime routine with which parent.

Every night before bedtime, Mister and Missy argue over who gets to have Mama read them a bedtime story and tuck them in.

Mister: “I wan’ go sleep with Mama”.

Missy: “No I go sleep with Mama, First!”

Same thing happens on the weekends during naptime. It doesn’t stop there. Usually Mr. Mama gives them a bath but lately, they have been arguing over who gets a bath first from Mama. Since we are potty training, I start their baths while one of them sits and Mr. Mama joins later when things get chaotic in the bathroom.

One evening they were arguing over Mama again while I was giving them a bath. I found myself saying in an exasperated tone: “You guys have to share Mama ok? There is only one Mama.”

That sounded really funny to Mr. Mama, and he told me so.

Until we figured out a solution I started to keep the peace by reading a book with Mister in his room while Mr. Mama reads a book to Missy in hers. Last two nights, Mr. Mama read a book to both of them in Mister’s bed at the same time which they really enjoyed.

Mister still likes to read his own picture book later (both kids love to “read”) before I turn off the light and lie down with him for a few minutes, rubbing his back. He always protests when I tell him goodnight and leave the room. But I know by then he is so far gone that he will cry for a minute then fall asleep easily… sometimes on the edge of the bed! Then I’ll go to Missy’s room and tuck her in, shut off her light and stay for a few minutes again until she is nearly asleep. Sometimes she likes to grab my fingers and hold on to them like she did when she was an infant, which is very sweet. I will tell her good night softly and leave her room, usually without any protests from her.

Before going to sleep ourselves, we always peek into Mister’s room to make sure he is not dangerously close to the part of the bed where there is no bedrail, ready to roll off at any minute. One night we found him fast asleep, both legs dangling off the foot of the bed almost to the ground!

To help with this bedtime dilemma, one of the daycare educators suggested making a Sleep Calendar where it clearly shows whose turn it is to have bedtime with Mama. We can alternate between the two so they don’t feel like we are choosing one over the other. Then, if they argue over who’s gets Mama, we simply point out who’s turn it is that day and tell them “that’s the rule!”. Usually little kids respect rules and will think it’s fair. To make it fun, we can get the kids to help decorate the calendar with their favourite stickers or crayons to mark “their” days.

So we started talking to the kids about taking turns with Mama every night. Sunday would Missy, Monday is Mister, Tuesday is Missy, etc. Since there are 7 days in a week, we will keep one “free” night.

Mr. Mama brought out the cute Telus calendar we received in the mail from our mobile company with pictures of baby animals that are native to Canada, which they loved. Although we have not decorated the calendar yet, they are starting to understand the concept. And they are already figuring out ways to bypass the rules.

Mister: “I wan’ Mama go sleep with me. Because, Mama already go sleep with Yaya (Missy) and Mama go sleep with me today.”

He conveniently forgot that last night was his turn, not Missy’s.

Last night, Mister made his case for getting Mama to put him to bed. He used some very clear logic which made it difficult to argue with.

“I wan’ Mama go sleep with me. Because Yaya (Missy) no listen to Mama.”

He’s right. Missy has not been listening lately, and he knows there is always a consequence to that.

The thing about raising twins is, everything has to be equal or equivalent, including fair treatment. Since they are the same age, their capacity to understand and maturity level is relatively the same. And they usually want the same time at the same time.

Man we really need to get going on that sleep calendar!

About the author

Ambereen is mom to two cute twins Mister and Missy, now with a third baby on the way! She’s Canadian eh, and lives in Canada’s capital with her husband, Mr. Mama. Between travelling and a busy social life, she works full-time in the public sector in IT policy. She enjoys writing short stories interjected with subtle humour about life adventures, sharing recipes, and coming up with fun yet simple activities to do with the kids. After a short hiatus where life got in the way of writing, she is back blogging at 2Cute – Adventures in Twin Parenting. She is looking forward to sharing her experiences here about life with twins + 1. And yes, it’s only one this time!

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