Q&A: twins hitting the 13-month regression

I'm in Florida and may not have internet access this week, so I won't get any super-pressing emails.

And now as a counterbalance to Friday's "parenthood is wonderful" post, a different question. Josy writes:

"I am writing to you b/c i seriously feel at my wits end. Maybe you have some insight or your readers that eventuallythis will change!

My twin baby girls (13 months old) are going through an insane clingy stage (I hope!) and I am about to put them in their cribs and go out for ice cream.

Not
really, obviously, but I just want to leave b/c the alternative is me
sobbing/banging my head against a wall/ as well as being the ultimate
stressed out mom. oh, yeah and I have 2 more kids.

Its been a
really hard year; my son is turning 6 this week, my daughter is 2.5 and
was only 15 months old when the babies were born….So the last 3 years
have just been non- stop pregnancy, nursing, having babies up to my
forehead.. I'm ready for things to change and just get a tad easier now
that the babies reached a year but no, the last 2 weeks have been
cranked everything up to a more unbearable level.

The girls
had a stomach bug, throwing up, the whole bit, and sleep was off. Now
the sickness gone  but I can't walk across the room without them both
falling over screaming their heads off. They crawl after me wailing,
and even if I simply stop at the sink to wash a couple dishes or help
my toddler, they just wail until I pick them up. Up until the last few
days I have been wearing one in an ergo and carrying the other, but
like I said, I've hit the bottom. I DON"T WANT TO! I don't want to
carry them everywhere, I don't want to pick them up every time they
scream but what can I do!? At crazy times (like when I'm washing poop
out of the toddler's potty or making lunch for my other kids) I've
stuck them in their cribs so that at least they were in the other room
and I could actually make lunch. Of course, they just scream til I get
them out- there's never a moment of settling down and playing with toys
or anything like that (even when they aren't in cribs- they want to be
sitting on me).

They
are the pickiest eaters I've ever experienced and are still nursing, so
my hunch is that they are cranky b/c they're hungry but don't eat enough
solids and just wait to nurse to fill up. Meanwhile they just cry until
I give in and nurse (which I have been trying to cut back to just 4-5
times a day!) and then they are happy, if only briefly. I've been
trying to offer milk in a sippy cup but they hardly ever try it, and
often spit it out immediately. I don't want to start giving them
bottles at this point.

Am
I doomed- is this just their personalities? Did I do wrong by just
carrying them around for a year? My other kids were not like this. Is
it a twin thing? Are they just starving for individual attention that
they will rarely ever get? I would love some other thoughts or just a
huge fast-forward button so I can see how we are all doing in 2 years,
please!"

Before I start: Holy shit, woman. Twins with a 15-month-old and a 5-year-old?? You are Wonder Woman.

Now: You did nothing wrong. Nothing, nothing, nothing. This is all normal, because your twins are at the 13-month developmental leap. It has nothing to do with their being twins, or anything you did. It's normal, and it's just a sucky stage that they'll come out of. (You can read all about the developmental leaps that cause cranky phases and sleep regressions through the first year+ in The Wonder Weeks.)

All kids are different, and some hit different leaps and regressions with different intensity. It sounds like your older two children are just not as intense in general, but also didn't have such a tough time at 13 months. Which is, you know, good, except that you didn't realize that it's awfully common for babies to just flip out right after they turn a year. And you got it with twice the intensity because you had two kids going through it at the same time.

It sounds to me like you've been responding to them as they needed you to. They needed more holding, so you gave it to them. But that didn't cause this. They're not letting you cut down on the nursing exactly because they're in this clingy phase, which is also why they're not letting you out of their sight, either, without wigging out. It would be horrific enough without all the other needs you've got rattling around in your house at the same time.

The Rolling Stones wrote a little song about this stage, and you can hear it here. (Hint–it's not about going out for ice cream.)

Anyway, this is not going to last forever. In fact, I'd predict it won't last another month.

In the meantime, I think you need a break. A major, major break. If I had unlimited funds, I'd send you away for a week alone to a spa in Sedona. I think a more practical solution, though, would be to see if you could get a mother's helper (the human kind, not the pill kind) from one of the middle school or high school kids in the neighborhood who wanted to make a few extra bucks by coming every couple days and entertaining your kids while you took a bath or something by yourself.

Because you need time to think, and not be dealing with everyone else's needs all day long. It's just not humane for one adult human to be trapped as sole caretaker for children all day long. And four kids, two of whom are going through a major cranky phase, are enough to drive you around the bend.

Oh–two other things: 1) It's possible that they won't ever drink cows' milk. If they don't, it's not a huge deal. Just feed them calcium-rich foods and let them drink water. My infamous brother (the one who Never Took a Bottle Ever) also never drank cows' milk ever, and he's a college graduate who loves his career and is about to marry a wonderful woman, and he has all his teeth and strong bones and can out-think me with little effort. 2) Figure out whether it's worse for you to hear them cry, or to pick them up every time, and then do the thing that's not worse. It won't hurt them at this point to be unhappy for 10 minutes while you're doing something else or just taking a few minutes alone. But if the crying stresses you out more than the picking up does, then pick them up.

Empathy for Josy? Tales of the 13-month developmental leap and how it made you want to leap? If you had the choice between taking drugs yourself or drugging your children, which would be most useful to you during a developmental leap/sleep regression? (You know I'm joking. Mostly.) Am I the only one who's had a complete moment of "Oh, NOW I get why all the women in older generations say their kids were so perfect–they've blocked all of it out because it was so demoralizing!"?

And Happy Monday, everyone. πŸ˜‰

52 thoughts on “Q&A: twins hitting the 13-month regression”

  1. Poor you! This sounds so hard…I have to ask – how is your husband in all of this? Is he good with the babies, enough so that you could get out for a couple hours in the evenings a couple days a week? If his work schedule allows, I found the grocery store by myself to be a place of solace at this stage, just reading labels and wandering aisles until I could breath again. Or Target. Or anywhere!
    Good luck. The second year is so hard, with one developmental leap after another. Just when you think you have them figured out they change it up on you. But it will get easier – you just have to find a way to make it through with your sanity intact.
    Good luck!! You are doing a great job!

  2. Sympathy, sympathy, sympathy. I don’t even remember 13 months with my twins (and that was only about…13 months ago), but I’m pretty damn sure it would have been next to impossible to survive if I had two older kids as well. You’ll get through it. In the meantime, do what you need to do to keep your sanity.

  3. Josy I don’t know where you are but here, mothers of multiples can get volunteers (yes, free!) in their homes from people doing early childhood education diplomas. My friend (mum of at the time a 3 yr old and 1 yr old surprise twins) says it saved her mind.She also said the floor saved her. She redid her basement so that it was an open playspace and would just lie on the floor/mattress with the kids touching her. I realize this does not give scope for cleaning, errands, cooking, etc. – but maybe this is your year to let some of that go.
    I also know she was out for walks a lot so as not to kill anyone. Not sure that helps with a brood of 4, but there it is.
    On the holding/clingy thing – my son was very high needs about being held. He was rarely out of anyone’s arms almost to 18 months (except when he was practicing walking, or climbing on the countertops(!)). Of course this was simplified because he was just one child, but I did want to assure you that it passed.
    Giving him the holding he wanted did not ruin him. That said, I think your twins will be all right whether they get all that they want in terms of holding or don’t. No guilt, no pressure.

  4. I totally feel like I could have written your question, except that my little one is a few months older, and not a twin. But the clingy…we walk around all day with her hanging on to our legs and wailing. When I put her down she cries one of those no breathing, fall over on the floor, full out tantrums. My older 2 (6,3) never did this. Sometimes i think that maybe it is a way to get more attention since she’s #3. But honestly, she has been more intense since birth. Oh, and, weirdly, she does this to random other adults–goes over to be held and will not be put down. Like the lady who measured her feet for shoes at the store.Anyway, I asked my pediatrician, bc I really was at my wits end. I wore her alot when she was little, but I really can’t do what I need to do wearing her. He said that I need to put her down when i need to. Give her lots of love when I can, and when I can’t (like someone else needs me, dinner needs to be made, whatever), just put her down and let her scream, where she can’t reach me, and don’t feel guilty. I know…really original idea. But until he said it, I just felt so bad doing it, like she NEEDED me and I was letting her down. But maybe she was a little bit needing, and a little bit manipulating. Not picking her up if I need to do something else has helped ME a lot. I then have the interest and energy to hold her and play with her a little more when I can. Instead of running screaming from her at any opportunity. It kind of adds up to the same amount of time with me, just I am less frustrated.
    Oh, ditto the mother’s helper. I love having someone take the baby in the stroller for a walk, or even just to the backyard to the baby swing. That way I can either be alone, or spend some clingy-baby free time with the “older” kids.
    Good luck!

  5. I wish that I could come help you. If I lived near you, I’d come give you a hand. You are doing an AMAZING job. I have no sage advice and just wanted to say that you’ll get through this and to ask for help from your partner, a neighborhood kid, someone. You deserve help and to feel good. And ice cream.

  6. Gal, you have my sympathy and my admiration!Pat youself on the back many times a day for raising 4 small children and still putting so much effort into thinking about how you can do better for them!!!Totally agree with Moxie on the Mother’s Helper (human not pill) thing. My Mom funded one for me when I had baby 2 (2… not 4!!!!) and it was such a help – for me, of course, but also for my older child, who really needed some one-on-one time.
    Also… take my mantra and repeat it religiously “This too will pass….. this too will pass…. this too will pass…..” For me (and I know it varies a lot) things got a lot easier when the kids got just a bit older than yours are – and STAYED easier, even through the teen years. Remember transition in labor? You may be almost through with the “worst” part. Hang in there. You are doing one of the hardest and most vital things that can be done.

  7. Four kids – the youngest twins?!? The fact that the OP can clean poop out of the potty and make lunches and be the touchstone for her twins day in and day out is awesome and she should feel really good about just getting it all done, no matter how, and it’s proof I should not be whining about my needy, clingy, mommy-only 18 monther. I only have one – and a day job as an escape.I can’t agree more with the find a way to get some outside help, or enlist husband more – who is no doubt tired, too, but somebody has to give this woman a break!!!!
    On the guilt about putting down the Hold Me, Hold Me, Hold Me baby. I only have one but I totally understand having the kind of kid that is on you like velcro 24/7. Hedra suggested a baby-gate and it’s been a sanity saver in the morning when I just needed five minutes to dry my hair, finish getting dressed. I put the baby gate in the bathroom doorway and he stands on the other side and cries and calls for me and shakes the gate and sometimes lies down on the floor but he’s perfectly fine. I can see him, he can see me and I can dry my hair.
    So back to the OP – please don’t feel bad or at least don’t worry that you are damaging them by putting them in the crib while you do something that requires free arms. They are safe and they know you love them and they know you will be back for them.
    People used to use playpens for a reason.

  8. oh my goodness. i’d be at my wits end too! i am at my wits end most days lately and we just have the two! josy, you sound like a rock star! mostly due to the way that you are so in tune with your children and your desire to want to meet their needs in the best way possible for your family.a few brief ideas: are they teething? is it molar time? this could be a big influence on personality- i remember the pnut turned into this unrecognizable ball of crying cling everytime she teethed. it was terrible, we were all miserable, and i specifically remember asking my husband if this was going to be her personality, since i hated it! (it wasn’t- she is lovely now) anyway, if so, see if any teething remedies can help, whatever you and your ped are comfortable with.
    2. w/r/t eating- do they like ice cream? or some other “bad for us b/c of fat and calories but not too bad nutritionally” type food? i know, i know, but seriously. this may be one of those times to gloss over what you think is ‘best’ and go for ‘survival’- i’m not saying substitute all of their meals with it, but if they like it and you can find some decent organic stuff with fruit in it, it’s similar to yogurt enough that perhaps it would help with the eating (and teething, if that is a factor too).
    3. how bout tv? do they like tv? i know, the AAP is going to hunt me down and blame me specifically for the obesity epidemic. but honestly? sometimes you need to shower, and eat, and survive. i believe kate calls this ‘worshipping at the house of pbskids’- but even if they’re into the weather channel, in small doses for a short era in your lives, it won’t kill them. we’ve done it more times than i would admit to my judgey friends and family. in fact, right now we’re watching the cartoon monkey with his yellow hat-ted friend while i type this, and no one is crying, or bugging me for something. alleluia.
    4. is it time for a new set of toys? either something you break out from the attic that your olders played with or something from their birthdays? maybe developmentally the stuff they have is boring/can’t keep their attention/isn’t interesting?
    5. totally recommend the sitter/mother’s helper idea. when pnut hit this stage is when i had a college girl come and just play with her, one on one, for a few hours a few days a week. it was a sanity saver. i could even be getting stuff done in the house while they hung out in the backyard, i could see them, they couldn’t see me type thing. i just heard of this site (moxie, you know i am unaffiliated w/ it and am not trying to spam or advertise my own business on your dime): sittercity.com that was recommended by a friend, who has been really happy with it.
    6. can a family member hang with the kids while you get out one night for an hour or two? for your own sanity? people who love you and your kids and are willing to deal with crying for an hour or two? also, how are the twins in the car with their dad? can he just drive to a store and do a basic shopping list and keep them entertained in public? we’ve found that on nights when i have to be at work-related stuff my husband deals with the kids better out of the house- he brings them to the home renovation big box store and they love it- he buys caulk or whatever and they have a blast in the plastic car part of the shopping cart, etc.
    best of luck to you, josy- hang in there, you will make it through to the other side!

  9. Oh, Josy! I can feel your pain and frustration come right through your post!I love Enu’s birth transition analogy. Just when you think it can’t get any worse it starts to get better.
    That said, I don’t recall 13 months being that bad, but 6 months was a killer for me. Nursing strikes, no sleep, clingy, fussy, colicky baby, teething, and then I got shingles, undoubtedly, from all of the stress.
    I totally agree with Moxie that this is a time to take a breather. Obviously, you can’t go away while you’re nursing, but maybe a morning or afternoon off. I occasionally see people I know doing the grocery store wander that Bobbi mentioned. They always seem so tired and stressed, but also happy to spend some time chatting next to the peanut butter. I don’t know about you, but I always felt better if I had someone to just TALK to and just vent for a while. Or if the idea of going somewhere and being “normal” is just too much because you’re so tired, maybe someone can take the kids for the day while you have a bath and a long nap or some totally YOU time.
    Worst case, knowing this will get better and thinking about everything as a phase is sometimes the only way to get through the tough times.
    Good luck to you.

  10. Nothing meaningful but lots of sympathy from me!I can suggest a milk alternative. I started my son off on slightly warmed goat milk when I was weaning him and he took to it much more than cow’s milk. I think it might taste disgusting (imho) in the same kind of way as breast milk.

  11. Regarding the nursing/solids issue…my spirited child, like Moxie’s brother, never took a bottle. For some reason 12 months is perceived as a magical time for a lot of changes, but my son didn’t get the memo. He started eating more solids around 14 months, but up until that point would drink almost nothing from a sippy cup and only occasionally picked at solid foods. He’s still nursing at 2.5, and the nursing increased in intensity as he was teething and going through the developmental leap periods (13 months, 18 months, learning to walk, learning to talk, etc.). I think you’re amazing for nursing twins past a year!

  12. WOW. My heart goes out to you. My little guy is a few days away from 15 months and my experience just after the one-year mark was VERY similar to yours. Before reading Ask Moxie and other columns, I thought he was just being clingy because I returned to work part time. He was with a sitter 5 hours a day, 2 days a week instead of with me 24/7. Come to find out, the separation anxiety is normal. When I get home from work, he’s still extremely clingy for a couple of hours, but he has chilled out TREMENDOUSLY in the past month. His sleep was also really screwy just after his first birthday. Then, like flipping a switch, he started sleeping through the night again once he hit 14 months. Some say that babies who are on the brink of walking have a sleep regression, but I don’t know how true that is. (anyone?) All I know is that we started letting him work things out on his own a little more by leaving him in his crib to play alone while we showered or, God forbid, took a moment to pee. He is getting more and more independant, which is great. Hang in there. Moxie’s right, make sure you take some time for yourself as often as you can! Find a way, even if it means you have to pay for a sitter. It’s worth it for the sake of your sanity!

  13. Just chiming in to offer more support. My son was the same at 13 months. He was clingly and cranky and I worried it was his ‘personality’ but it wasn’t, in the end it was just a phase of course and he is now 26 months and easy and delightful. And he never took a bottle, and never learned to like any milk other than breastmilk but I weaned him regardless at 10 months and he is a strong healthy boy. You do not need cow’s milk for calcium. I would recommend Dr. Spock’s book if you want a doc to back that up and suggest all sorts of calcium alternatives which, he argues, are even superior to cow’s milk for humans. I also thought my son was the pickiest eater in the world until a switch flipped at 14 months. I couldn’t even get him to eat a french fry or ice cream (I tried everything!) until then. But, in his own good time, he decided to eat solids and now is the best eater of any kid I know (still no ice cream of course, he hates all dairy but broccoli, rapini, steak, fish, fruit, quinoa, anything else goes). So, my belated point is that I wouldn’t worry about eating or milk at this point, I would just figure out a way to get some help so that you can get a break. If you could get out for an hour twice a week to exercise or sip a coffee, I imagine the twins’ clinginess would seem a lot less daunting. So here’s another vote for mother’s helper and yes, this too shall pass.

  14. I have twins (boy and a girl) and a son who was 22 months when the dynamic duo arrived. It is a challenge! My son is now 3 and the twins are 17 months and although it’s still hard (really, really hard) it does get easier. One of my twins is a “hip rider” who wants to be held all day. I ditto all the other commenters, you give them as much of that as you can and then try to remind yourself that they will be fine even if you have to put them down to attend to your life and it makes them upset for a little while. Honestly, there’s just a lot of screaming and crying when you live with that many little people. You’re not doing anything wrong, and there’s nothing wrong with your kids. This is just the way it is for now. I’ve made myself nuts at various times trying to strategize my way out of the noisy chaos, but you do what you can and accept that the kids will not like it sometimes, but truly they’ll be okay. Good luck!

  15. Oh you poor girl. My son is 13 months and making me CRAAAZZZYYY with the clingy and refusal to sleep. And I only have one 13 month old (and a four year old who is MY spirted one). So, nothing here but empathy and a loud YES to everybody said for you to try to get a break. We went through the stomach bug right at the one year mark too, but the good news is once he started eating again he’s suddenly doing much better with trying new things.good luck–you are a total rock star for handling this and trying to meet everyone’s needs so well. And you are not weak for feeling a mite bit at the end of your rope! My two kids drive me up a wall lots of the time, and you could have the four most perfect easy children in the WORLD and still feel overwhelmed at times–that’s just a lot of little people to be taking care of.
    (sending prayers for a miracle simultaneous naptime for all for so that you can have an hour or two of peace).

  16. I agree with everything, think you’re doing a fantastic job and want to tell you the worst is almost over. My third was the clingiest (walked latest, all that stuff – totally milked “I’m the baby”) and sometimes he got held and sometimes he didn’t and he survived – do what you need to do as Moxie said. Whatever choice you make is right. The only thing I did, and who knows if it worked or he just started to outgrew when he started walking, was when I was not holding him and he was mad about it was continually talking to him and trying to reassure him that way. I can’t guarantee it will work, but it might reassure them and it might start to give them the sense that there are other ways to get their needs met. Also, you could try bribing your oldest into playing with the twins and diverting their attention on the days you don’t have extra help and really need to do those frivolous things like use the toilet or occassionally fix food for the survival of everyone. Good luck and this too shall pass.

  17. I have a 15 month old, a 6 year old, and a 15 year old. The most recent 13 month thing was really no fun. I can’t imagine it with two at once.Are the girls growing teeth? That might explain some of the extra not eating, etc.
    I’ll bet you a dollar that in two months (or even one) things will be measurably easier. I don’t really have any ideas on how to hold on until then, except for knowing that this too shall pass.

  18. I can’t help but laugh, and sob a little at the same time. My daughter is 13 months old right now. I think I have to bookmark this page and come back to read it every time I feel like running screaming into my bedroom and shoving my head under my pillow. I think my mantra this month will be, “at least there’s not two of her, at least there’s not two of her.” That thing about crawling after me wailing, as I am trying to get a quick chore done? That is exactly her. Josy: you are not alone; Moxie: thank you for posting this!

  19. I just want to chime in and say that I am super impressed with the OP, too!@pnuts mama, I decided I needed to give to PBS because of how many hours of babysitting it has given me. I figured the $35 to become a member was like 10 cents an hour for babysitting. Hehehe, we’re watching Super Why right now!

  20. If you lived near me (where do you live?), I’d waddle my 9-months’ pregnant self over and give you a break. I only have one (so far) super-sensitive 3-year-old, but he for sure went through the crazy clingy phase. It was exhausting.- buy some good earplugs. They won’t block out all noise, so you can still hear what you need to, but they diminish the crying/screaming/whining to a manageable level. I have very sensitive ears and found it very disconcerting to hear my son’s very loud crying/tantrums once he got past a year. We’re biologically programmed to immediately respond when our child cries, but a lot of those cries aren’t immediate needs at this point.
    – by all means, put them down when you need to. I like the suggestion of do whatever you hate least, the picking up or the putting down. Put a blanket on the floor with some new/interesting/haven’t seen in awhile toys and change the scene often. Walk away, but keep up a dialogue (over the screaming)…”Mommy’s right here, I know you want me to pick you up, but I need to do XYZ, I’ll be over in a minute.” Believe me, even through the crying, they’ll hear you and understand what you’re saying.

  21. You crack me up Moxie with the Rolling Stones reference, LOL.I have to run out so this will be short. This developmental leap is tied to the last stranger anxiety stage. Stranger anxiety hits somewhere between 13 -16 months. Before they leap to becoming more independent they will regress and the clingy nature is the regression. I would imagine that they won’t even let Dad hold them at this point? The situation is exacerbated by the fact that they are used to being carried.
    I hope you can see that you did NOTHING wrong. You’re a hero in my book for being able to give so much to so many without loosing your mind!
    You do need a break but I doubt the twins will be okay with that right this minute. Maybe in a week or two when things settle a bit? Or now if you’re loosing your mind?
    Here’s a good way to ease them into leaving them for a little bit.
    Have the sitter come every day for 1 -2 weeks. Have her stay for five minutes the first day. Make sure you use the same words each time you leave and when you come back. Say, “I’m going out and I will be back soon.” Then get in the car and drive around the block or park away from the house and breathe. When you come back they will be crying and upset. Say to the sitter, “thanks and I will see you tomorrow”
    The next day increase the time you’re away to 20 minutes. This is showing the kids that you are a woman of your word and can go away and you WILL come back. They may not be okay with it, but they will learn when you’re ready to teach them.
    Also know that when you get back, they will really let you have it by crying, it’s their way of saying, “I don’t like when you’re gone.” You have to accept the crying when you return and keep going, if getting a break is what you want to do.
    Good luck, I’m sure the wisdom on this site will have plenty to share.

  22. Not a lot of help, but loads of sympathy coming your way! My DS didn’t get the eating memo (he still prefers not to eat…), and was pretty attached at 13 months, but it will get better, I promise!I love the idea of a Mommy’s helper–if you attend church/synagogue, you might find someone there to help as well.
    I also love pnuts mama’s suggestions. That’s reality, right there! πŸ™‚

  23. I am so impressed with Josy – I only have one toddler and I thought I was going to have to check myself into the mental hospital last week! My 16 month old is a really intense kid, way more than her 5 year old sister ever was, and she’s been going through this thing where she just refuses to sleep (she smacks herself in the ears and tugs on her hair to keep herself awake, plus she’s incredibly sensitive and if you move ever so slightly after putting her down when she’s asleep, it’s all over and she’s back up again). Plus, when she’s tired, she wants to be held all the time and like Josy’s kids, screams like a banshee if put down. My husband travels for work and I actually had a video chat with him at 1am one night last week, because I was at the end of my rope. I can’t imagine going through these phases with two.As far as the drugs go, I think I’d give them to her. In fact, I think she might just have a cough. (Kidding, I promise.)

  24. I actually disagree with Sharon (at 10:32) – I think you need to NOT make a big deal about leaving – not even saying “good-bye” but hold off leaving until a couple of visits by the sitter. They’ll be used to her in 3 or 4 visits and then sneak the hell out of there and tamp down any guilt you have. They will survive without you. Also, consider hiring two sitters for the same time – one for the twins and one for the older two. If you go with one high schooler and one middle schooler the younger sitter can entertain the older kids but have backup as necessary. Plus using school age sitters will make it much more affordable.

  25. So so much sympathy. I have just one but I also found the 13 month stage really difficult. Tantrums and clinginess all over the place. I can’t imagine that multiplied. With us, things got substantially better around 15 months when some signing kicked in. And now 18 months is total fun. Maybe if the OP could let us know where she is, we could see if there are any Moxites in the area who could help out?

  26. No words of wisdom, I just wanted to say, “Wow!!! You are a rock star.” Years and years ago, I used to babysit for a family with a similar spacing to yours (their second was slightly older when the twins were born). I started babysitting for them when I was in H.S. and the twins were 6 months old, and I babysat through college when the twins turned 6. I would be completely and utterly exhausted after an evening, much less a weekend. Much, much, much less 24/7!!Hang in there. This stage will pass (only to be replaced by another difficult stage…but at least it will be different).

  27. Josy – Moxie is right, you are totally Wonder Woman. 13 months was one of those times with my daughter that kinda made me want to jump off a bridge. I cannot imagine having twins at 13 months plus 2 older kids. All of the above commenters had good suggestions, I just wanted to tell you that you are doing a GREAT job. Hang in there.@enu: Comparing 13 months to labor transition? Pure genius.

  28. All my sympathy — my son has gradually started to move beyond this stage (he is now 18 months), but it is vivid in my mind! I just wanted to add that he will NOT drink milk, and we just feed him tons of yogurt, cheese, even greens (whirred up in a smoothie if they won’t eat them straight) and other calcium-dense foods, and doc says milk doesn’t matter. That’s one you can let go. πŸ™‚ I have a friend who says “This too shall pass” should be written in gold over every door in every house with children. Bless you all.

  29. Wow! I’m seriously impressed with you, Josy! You are indeed a Rock Star!I have only one, but she has always been super clingy. I have totally blocked out 13 months specifically, but somewhere along that first year to year and a half, I started trying to get her to hug me or hold on to my leg while I did other things, like dishes. At times, this worked really well. She’d take a big hug and then let me let her go, while she stayed around my legs. It didn’t always work, but even the sometimes were a break!
    Also, I agree with what Sharon was saying about using the same language when you are leaving. Over the last couple of months (right before she turned 2), my girl was again really clingy to mommy-and-only-mommy, but I would need to go to work or do other things. I tried sneaking off, and that made things WAY WORSE for us. I researched online, and it said that sneaking away can exacerbate the seperation anxiety because they can become afraid that every time they turn around, you may sneak off.
    So I’ve been telling her every day that I have to go to work in the mornings, or that I need to go upstairs for a little while in the evenings. Lately, it’s been amazing. Just this morning, she said back to me, “Okay, Mommy. You go to work. Bye bye.” as she gave me a hug and kiss. And then I left and she kept playing with the nanny! I’m sure this is in large part due to the fact that she’s out of whatever phase she was in, but I’m also sure it had to do with the consistent message I would give her when I left and returned.
    Good luck! I couldn’t even imagine dealing with this with twins and two others!

  30. That stage ate my brain and my older two kids were 7 and 3 years older than the twins. YOU ARE NOT CRAZY for feeling overwhelmed!I literally sat on the floor at that stage 90% of the time I was at home because it was less painful to have them wander over me than yank at me.
    I stood between them while they tried to scratch each-other’s eyes out over my talking to one of them before the other. Okay, one scratched, the other pinched. And bit. And the scratcher also pulled hair. I put in an appeal to the apmultiples yahoo group for help on the misery at the time. There was a lot of ‘oh, honey, we hear ya’ and not much specific help other than just knowing that I was normal, my kids would get over the ‘mommy-all-the-time’ thing, and it would all eventually be okay.
    And it is, really. The twins are now 4 1/2, and since about 3 1/4, we’ve had actual real time to just BE without always being in motion. Since that’s a long way from where you are, I strongly ditto the ‘find a way to get a break’ themes. I also will say that at 15 months, things improve. Again and again they improve. I stopped having to hold both of them at the same time ALL THE TIME a loooong time ago. I started being able to take two of them to the grocery store again. I stopped having to sling one while cuddling the other. I stopped having to comfort the one without the boo-boo along with the one WITH the boo-boo because the unhurt one was scared and jealous. Twin jealousy issues are NO fun.
    Do you have the book Mothering Multiples? Karen Gromada rocks. If you don’t have it, at least reading it will give you a sense of reality. (She’s on apmultiples, too – which is very much an AP group, but not a rabid group – because, hello, multiples means not being able to do everything you’d like in a perfect world, or even the usual imperfect world…).
    What else…
    I’m with the ritualized goodbye statements, though done calmly. It’s hard to not let the ‘ohshittheyregoingtofreakout’ leak out my pores when I try to leave during a fussy stage. At this stage, with the DCP, I would just sit and hang out for a half-hour at her place as the transition. It was still rough going for a bit, but I knew that the stage would pass eventually, too. The ritualized statements were very important for my kids – they needed to know if I was there, or gone, period. NO sneaking out, or my kids would freak worse the next time. But also no drama (or as little as possible – the ‘umpteen kisses before leaving’ just becomes another way to control the situation from their side, so keep the ritual limited, if you can). Calm and logical and plain and simple. They’re reading whether you think they should freak out, and will freak out worse if they think you are saying they should be upset. If that made sense?
    I agree with enu on the labor transition thing – we tend to doubt ourselves (or rather, be certain we cannot get through this) at those points. But we do. The NORMAL sign of the peak of the fussy stage is the mom saying “I QUIT! I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE! I’ll do ANYTHING to make it stop! I’m sorry I did everything I already DID! AAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” The trick is that you didn’t cause it, and you can’t make it stop, but it will go away on its own. Really. Really really really.
    Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Deep breaths.
    You are not doomed. Nursing frenzies (and nursing envy/jealousy, oh, the suckage, so to speak), all the uppies urgency, the despair when you are not able to get to THAT one first, all that – it will pass. Quite soon, really.
    As for the eating, do not fret. Food weirdness is typical of this age, too. If they were preemie, and/or had deep suctioning at birth they MAY have oral aversion issues, but they’d be hard to spot at this stage anyway. At that age, my kids refused to eat, but it turned out that Miss M had a control issue over it (she refused to eat until she was the one doing all the feeding, then she would eat anything), and Miss R had a SIZE issue – she wouldn’t eat anything chopped up small, but would happily knaw on chunks of stuff (she was not a choker, fortunately – I LOVE the safe Feeder things, those mesh bags with the handle you put the food in… clip it to them with a pacifier clip so they can’t fling it, but otherwise, dump food into hands and step away…). They ended up being better eaters than the others just due to me not having enough energy to worry about their eating anymore. They shared, traded, and passed food around, too. I just let them. (I recommend “How to get your kid to eat, but not too much” for the general concept of totally self-led feeding).
    RE: the gate (mom2boys, glad it is helping!) – Karen Gromada (mentioned above) also recommends them, and she’s as AP as they come, just also the mom of twins. Being able to gate off the kitchen (etc.) was a huge huge huge thing for sanity – you can still respond verbally, as well.
    I will admit that my kids are still ‘uppie’ kids. Even the older ones stayed uppie kids. But it does get down to the managable level, really. I can and still do pick up both twins periodically, at the same time, but it is more ‘for entertainment’ than for real. They want uppie if they are hurt, or heartsore, but they also will specify that they want just short uppies, because they know they are heavy, too.
    I totally feel for you because of the lower age gap – having a MUCH older kid (comparitively, the three additional years for the oldest is HUGE), I had a bit of a longer time view than you’ve got, which was a help for keeping me sane. Plus I found out about the fussy stages with the eldest, so was an ‘old hand’ at watching the stage come on by the time the twins arrived. I knew that these were going to be rough beyond rough when they hit. But knowing they were coming, and how long they usually lasted, and being able to see the pattern in myself (the ‘aaaaahhhhhh! oh. Wait, fussy stage, not my fault! Hunker and get through, hunker and get through…’), that gave me a lot of extra range that you probably don’t have (plus a lot of social support, family support, and ep is very much hands-on as a daddy)…
    And I still ended up with PPD again at a year (it tends to resurge with twin moms at 1 and 2 years of twins age; again at 3 for triplet moms, I hear). So watch for that, as well, because my function crashed just as their function crashed, and that was a worse wreck. Pushing the supplements for me was important (fish oil plus other mood and mental function supports).
    Anyway, I hope that you find something of value in my reply. You don’t have to be super-mommy, you just have to get through. (As much as it was flattering to be told I was super-woman, I also hated it – because I am not. NOT NOT NOT. I struggled, scrambled, hated some days, felt completely submerged under my kids some days… and then the stage would pass and I’d feel free again… but still hated the super thing. NORMAL HUMANS can do this. It just isn’t easy. We do it because we must. When we reach our limits we ask for help. And we still struggle, and still are at our limit, until we grow new skills and our kids grow new skills and we move on to the next stage and then the kids pass us again and we go through the cycle again…. fortunately it gets less physically exhausting as you go!).
    Um, anyway, hang in there. We don’t tell twin parents that it gets better, just different. But really, it is getting way BETTER at this point, not just different. Better as in I can spend two hours in the garden with the kids meandering around and playing and coloring with chalk on the driveway and only have to ‘handle’ something every 15 minutes or so, and none of them big enough issues to have to actually stop what I’m doing. More ‘oh, really? That’s cool’ or ‘okay, get me the bandaids, I’ll put it on the scrape for you’ or ‘sure, you can watch/help’ or ‘I’m sorry, it sounds like you didn’t like her saying that, would you like a hug?’ and not so much ‘would you PLEASE stop yanking at me so I can take one step without your ‘help’ please please please please!!!’ πŸ™‚ The weekend was really very nice. It comes.

  31. Josy, I admire you for working so hard to support your kids’ needs, especially when the 13-month s**t is hitting the proverbial fan…you *are* a superhero.I write this having just come out of my 13-month old’s room, where he was wailing up a storm because he threw his lovey out of the crib during his becoming-more-frequent nap protests…*sigh*. We’ve just been through 2 straight days of no afternoon nap followed by at least 1 hour of inconsolable crying and screaming. Plus molar teething on top of it all. Fun times.
    I’m with all the other posters–if there’s any way you can get a mom’s helper during the day, and/or in the evening so you can have some breathing room (a.k.a. nervous breakdown prevention), I think that’s your best bet right now. There are times where even 15 minutes of alone time is like hitting the jackpot–I hope you can find that for yourself.

  32. Oh, and I still love being a mom, despite those stages. Ask me again when the girls are 15…Last note, just because I think you can relate. Periodically, random people will say to me, ‘oh I always wanted twins!’ I struggled for a while to try to explain why I looked at them like they were crazy. It finally came down to this:
    Wishing for twins is like wishing for a house fire so you can remodel. You will be able to do some really cool things with the remodeling if the house was gutted, but there are less stressful ways to accomplish the same thing.
    (Some people still look at me like I somehow don’t appreciate what I’ve got, but every twin mom I know totally gets it. Even if they wanted twins.)
    Right now, you’re in the middle of the house fire stage. You’re not even surveying the damage yet. Later, you’ll build a really cool family out of it, but right now, you’re trying to crawl to the exit.

  33. In regards to Moxie’s last comment about the older generation forgetting these things:I was joking with my mom how it’s the terrible 3’s, not the terrible 2’s and she comments, “I guess you and your brother were just such easy children. I don’t remember ever having those kinds of problems with either of you!”. Until I reminded her of how she would lock herself in her room and we would pound on the door and stick our fingers underneath until she came out. Then she remembered!
    I now know why she made a cup of tea and spent an hour in the bathroom reading magazines every morning, in addition to our 2 hour “quiet time” every afternoon in the summer, when we were home all day.
    God bless moms, all kinds, it is the truly vacation-less job!

  34. At 13 months, when we (me) needed a break, we started watching the Signing Times videos, and my DD loved them – as a bonus, she started to communicate (signing) with us – so it was a “babysitter” with a benefit.

  35. Poor you13 months was the worst of all the developmental spurts for my little one. I know exactly what you mean when you say you’re worried that this is their personality I thought the exact same thing with my daughter. God news. It really isn’t. My daughter is the sweetest, most adorable little soul but you wouldn’t have thought it a year ago ( she is now 26.5 months old). I thought I’d been given a dud! Hang in there. It sounds like you have every thing sussed and are doing a fantastic job.

  36. I don’t have time to read all other posts so forgive me if I repeat. I have 27 month old twins (and no older children…I’m not even worthy to read your post, noetheless post a response but here goes)1. New/less/old/more toys. We do a toy swap every weekend. Old toys are new again and everything gets re-positioned and re-purposed. If there is too much stuff or if it is all over the place my kids forget how to play.
    2. Are you girls verbal yet? Mine were stage 5 clingers until they spoke and then…poof..it all changed. Same thing with sleep…as soon as they worked out that pesky regression they needed so much less from me.
    3. I couldn’t always handle the mother’s helper concept (if I couldn’t do it, how will a 16 year old manage?) but I did pay soemone to help me with the other stuff so I could focus on the kids. Laundry, cleaning, shopping etc…
    4. Have they moved from two to one nap? Could they need less/more sleep?
    5. Try playing a ton of silly and involved peek-a-boo. “I’m here-I’m not-I always come back” may help with the momentary panic.
    6. Mine never drank breast milk (or much cow’s milk) from a sippy cup. Water or diluted juice was way easier. We moved to a real cup around that age. I used wide (almost like bowls) with handles with very quick success.
    7. My kids loved these little cream cheese balls at that age. Take little bits of cream cheese and roll it in crushed b-fast cereal. Once they get used to the texture you can mix a little chopped spinach in the cc and roll it in cracker crumbs. The possiblities are endless.
    8. Get out…not alone (bc we all know how impossible thatis) but with them. I sincerely cannot imagine doing it with four but even just a trip to the park for a half hour will totally change their mood.
    9. Disregard all 8 points above. It will change before you can fix it anyway. Our limit was 16 days. All of the really icky stages were about 2 weeks (with a few more days thrown in for extra pain.)

  37. Good lord! You are an amazing mother. I am thoroughly humbled by your description of cleaning out poopy potties, fixing a meal, and holding 2 screaming toddlers! I feel weak in comparison.My only recommendation is to do whatever it is that makes you feel the best– ice cream, a night out, reading a book in a coffee shop, going to see a matinee by yourself… and feel absolutely NO GUILT! Even if they cry the entire time for a babysitter or their dad, what’s the worst that could happen? You might burn through babysitters for a few weeks πŸ˜‰ but the kids will certainly survive. And most importantly, you will be a little more calm and clear headed when you return. I recently went to see a matinee by myself to escape my weepy sick daughter (I left her with her dad). I returned to our house a new woman. Seriously. It was like 2 months of psychotherapy!
    Did I mention that I think you are amazing?! Wow.

  38. @ hedra–I literally, yes literally, peed my pants after reading the twins=house fire analogy. OMG I think I’m going to hyperventilate from laughing. And I’m going to use that one next time someone says they are jealous of me for having twins.@ Josy–My girls are 15 months old and we have just come out of this stage. I’m really sorry you are going through it while caring for two other kiddos! Wow. There should be a rule that multiples must automatically come with “easy baby” and “easy toddler” programming. Ha!
    I have been calling mine Velcro Babies for about four weeks. My mom, who visits regularly, was so amazed by my Cling-Ons that she took a video of them wrapped around my legs as I took little steps toward the sink/bathroom/microwave. I was usually wearing one in the Ergo and holding one in front. Oh, the shoulder pain! Thank God for the chiropractor.
    Also, the temper tantrums were much, much worse. Not just crying, but rolling-around-flailing-and-screaming-if-I’m-not-given-what-I-want-IMMEDIATELY. And then, if you pick me up when Sister is already in your arms, I will do my best rubber chicken impersonation and slip right out of your grasp. Or throw myself out of your arms in order to land on the floor and continue to flail. Unless, of course, you put Sister down and hold only ME ME ME! And by the way, I’m only going to fully calm down if you nurse me. Again. And not Her.
    When I was ready to lose it, I would try to sit and read them a book together, but there would be WWF smackdown fights in my lap. One would try to push the other out of my lap while the other kicked and flailed. And the book? Oh, no. Sister is not allowed to TOUCH, POINT AT or even SEE the book. I will hold it far away so that she does NOT get to participate. And would you just put her down, PLEASE!
    Whenever I found myself thinking about which neighbor wouldn’t mind finding twin toddlers on her doorstep, I would put them in front of Signing Time videos in the play yard filled with pit balls. As long as they couldn’t see me, they were content for 30 minutes.
    Also, I would offer warm goat milk in a sippy cup and it went down much easier than anything else, as long as I offered it *before* they started asking to nurse. Because nobody could fool them with a bait-and-switch. Nuh-UH!
    Our days are much better now. This morning they played independently while I ate breakfast, combed my hair and brushed my teeth. In a row. I kept waiting for someone to come wailing along, but it never happened. And we transitioned this week to one nap, which I didn’t expect to happen for a while, but their sleep was all FUBAR and it was obvious that they were ready to give up the morning nap. Maybe that was all part of the 13-month regression, which, of course, happened at 14 months for my 36 weekers.
    And BOOM, their walking skills are dramatically improved and expressive language has exploded to about 30 signs and 30 spoken words from 6 and 6. I don’t know if the cranky phase was responsible for all that growth, and if so, frankly, I’m not sure it was worth it!
    So…it will get better. I promise. In the meantime, helpers if possible, fresh air and sunshine if possible, caffeine, Vitamin D and ice cream. Oh, and Moxie. That’s all I’ve got. =)

  39. Oh, I forgot to add that for the last few days they’ve been giving each other big hugs around the neck. And cracking each other up by putting zany objects on their heads. And running their push toys into each other. And signing “I love you!” to each other. So, I’m enjoying this phase. And savoring memories for the next jealous, clingy phase. When is the next one scheduled, BTW?

  40. @hedra – My husband and I always thought we wanted twins–until my brother and his wife had twins. Then, we were like, “Thank goodness we didn’t have twins!” People who think they want twins don’t realize what all is involved. Don’t get me wrong, twins are wonderful in so many ways, and it’s really awesome to watch my niece and nephew grow and develop (they turn 3 in two months). But boy, they are a lot of work! And we have had a hard enough time with one needy child.

  41. @Amanda Too, Oh, Yeah, on the ‘you may not participate in the book reading!’ thing. “MOM, you’re reading to ME. Not HER. ME.” I didn’t PMP, but I did laugh at your description, because it is oh-so-YUP, me, too.We still have some fights over who is ‘primary’ when it is reading time. “I get the MIDDLE of her lap, YOU have to sit on her KNEE. Perch. Uncomfortably if possible. And better if I can wiggle and have you fall off now and then. HA!” (We do periodic ‘leader days’ where one is line-leader for the day, gets to help ‘most’, has to be responsible for making sure the other gets her needs met – like a good leader would – etc. It helps. Sometimes.)
    But then, we also get, ‘oh, no, of course you can go first!’ and ‘you can have mine, sister!’ and ‘you can sit next to me’ and ‘I’ll help you!’ and ‘You can wear my pink dress today, because you like it so much’ … so there’s the upside.
    and heaven FORFEND that I should try to make one of them do something she doesn’t like, because the other will come roaring to her defense. AH, yes, the joy of trying to get one child’s teeth brushed while the other is yanking at my leg and kicking me trying to get me to STOP because sister doesn’t LIKE getting her teeth brushed!
    Ah, yeah. Golden memories… and I never have the darn video camera handy (nor would I have the extra hands required to get the video started, for that matter… but I do want to be able to say to them, ‘do you remember when you…?’ when they’re 23 years old.).
    We do at least have permanent record of what happens when Miss R takes Miss M’s toy and then turns her back. Because Miss R has a nice set of teeth marks in scar form on her shoulderblade. And Miss R is dark-skinned, so it shows up really clearly. I remember that day… Oy.

  42. (And hence the house fire analogy – because there are things you get with twins that are not as notable a part of the older/younger dynamic, or so sweetly… It’s a bigger remodel after that house fire, and some really cool stuff comes with it. Just a bit traumatic, too. And that’s not even counting the pregnancy.)

  43. Hah! I love the milk story with your brother! My 17 month old son never took a bottle, and when I weaned him at 13 months (because I was 8 months pregnant), he refused to take milk. He still won’t. He eats all kinds of great healthy foods and lots of calcium, and he drinks water, but it drives my grandmother BATTY. She is always trying to shove a cup of milk in his face and can’t stand that he won’t take it. I keep telling her that HE’LL LIVE WITHOUT MILK.

  44. Hang in there Sweetie! My daughter (now 15 mo) also went through a SUPER clingy phase at 13 mo. She would cry if I even turned my back to do a single dish! Unfortunately, she also started waking up multiple times during the night during this phase. One day, I was sobbing while I was driving the car–just because I felt so overwhelmed and tapped out.The good news? It only lasted a few weeks and then it totally stopped. I’ve learned that babies and toddlers change often. Keep being the loving, caring mother that you are and please make it a priority to take time for yourself. I recommend splurging and getting a massage, but just sitting and being still can be very healing as well.
    Good luck!

  45. I second Vancouver’s suggestion of the Signing Time series. I started them around 12 mos and they definitely held his interest and helped us communicate and they gave me a much needed break. Now at 19 mos he knows more signs than I could have imagined…a win win.

  46. I didn’t have time to read all the other comments but JOSY – my daughter did this too at the same age. It started at about 12 months and lasted until about 18-19 months. Now she’s a joyful wonderful little 21 month old… it really was just a phase. When I was in the 13 month stage I thought I couldn’t take it another day let alone FOREVER which is how long I thought it would last. But I made it. You will too.

  47. Yeah, I found 13 months to be a real b!tch. I can’t really imagine it times two, plus two.Your mileage may vary, of course, but I actually found a bit of discipline at this age very helpful. I’m still not entirely sure how this works, because what happened for me was that I spent last week with a friend (who has four-year-old twins, and who I hope will see this and write a follow-up), and she helped my DS (14 months) and I get started with some discipline. The key parts are not whining and communicating nicely, backed up by very short (seconds-long) time-outs, a little training in getting control, and extreme praise and positive responses for good behavior. We’re working on the not-clinging thing too, but it’s harder, as I find I need another adult there to back me up; with that, I’ve found short but explicit communication helpful (“Mommy’s doing X now, you may stay in the living room and play. You may not whine.” That sort of thing).
    In the long run, I think how you discipline gets down to what works for you, and with older kids you probably already have a good toolbox for it. I mention it largely because I saw a lot of responses along the lines of “respond to their needs; they won’t last long,” or even “respond to their needs, but wall them off if you need to,” and while I think these can be legitimate, useful, caring ways to parent, they aren’t the only ways and, depending on you and your children, may not be the best ways. I know for myself, I was about to go batshit crazy, and nothing short of a permanent mother’s helper would have helped, if it meant I still had to come home to whining and clinging. And I know that my son seems a lot calmer, happier, more confident, and more grown-up since we started working on discipline and good behavior. Again, your mileage may vary.

  48. OH MY GOD, JOSY, doesn’t it totally suck?Seriously, my twin girls are in the same regression, and we’re about to run away to Canada. Want to come?
    I’m pretty sure you didn’t screw them up. I think this is just how they are for now. And it sucks.
    You know those giant baby cage thingies? You buy them in segments of five or six, I think, and then make a cage? Well, we bought a couple sets and made a giant cage in our living room. For extra security/stability, we zip tied it to several sturdy pieces of furniture, because we’re classy like that. It’s big enough that they can see into all the rooms downstairs, and also big enough for several adults to sit inside with them. It’s a good place to put them when they’re pitching a wall eye and you still have to go do something, because it’s safe and if you throw enough toys in it, they’ll (sometimes) entertain themselves. Also, if the cage is big enough, they can watch you do dishes or make lunch or whatever, and this seems to help.
    When they’re needy, we sit with them, and first they mob us, but then they kind of orbit us like little moons, first leaning on us, then wandering further and further away until they find something more interesting than us. This is not hard, as we are boring people.
    I don’t know. I think it’s just going to suck until the regression is over, period. Aren’t I a ball of sunshine? But seriously, we’re just hanging on until week 55.
    Oh, and my girls have totally regressed on eating, and…we’re just going with it. You want a bottle? Fine. You want purees instead of people food? Whatever. You want to be spoonfed? Look, kid, I’m kind of busy, you know? Wait, this means you won’t have a chance to smear yogurt in your hair. Where’s that damned spoon?
    We have a strict household policy of just not fighting with them over food, because…well, it’s messy and it doesn’t work and we’re probably horrible parents, but they’ll go back to eating people food when they’re ready. Well, either that or eventually they’ll start mixing their own formula. Either way, win!
    Good luck, hon. And God, it sucks. I know.

  49. @Schwa de vivre – I found that the kind of ‘yes’ discipline you’re talking about cognitively kicks in for my kids (in a way that gets a definite response) around the 15 month point (kind of the middle of the blur-together of 2 stages that ended up being one long stage in your experience). At 13 months, not so much useful, though worth trying to work on manners (asking instead of whining, etc.). Once the first part of the cognitive development there completes (the 15 month point), complex programs of ‘how to get the outcome I’m seeking’ are very very useful. I think a lot of people are talking more specifically about the 13 month side of it, but it is definitely important to stay aware that there’s a LOT of development going on, and you can start applying new techniques as it goes.At that 15 month point for us, working on not hitting, not pinching, not screaming, not whining, etc. (with the laser focus on the positive stuff being very useful for many kids) is definitely a Good Plan! (Practicing before is a Good Plan, just the results are spotty/nonexistant without the extra comprehension.)
    With twins, the challenge is being able to focus on one long enough to complete the process. That was the age where I found that the second I attended to one, the other would do something to force attention back to them. ANYTHING. ARGH. The idea of ‘divide and conquer’ was more like ‘split mommy’s brain in two’ (that is, they were dividing me, not me dividing them). I figured out eventually that I had to finish with one (while containing the other, often by holding them but still looking only at the one, which usually meant I was talking over someone being way too loud) or I’d lose the cycle. A lot of the time I didn’t have energy/space/capacity to handle that, and I despaired that they’d end up much more miserable people than the other two kids, for whom I’d managed to do this positive discipline approach one-on-one…
    Only, it’s hard to break them, really. Yes, the pushing and pinching and hair pulling still pops up now and then. No they’re not little demons. They’re noted for their decorum and kindness at school, and while they still like ‘uppies’ more than the average kid, ALL my kids like uppies more than the average kid (there’s a sensory aspect there as well, and all my kids have sensory issues). They play well together, their empathy (which is what is SO POWERFUL at this age and that is quite different from singletons) is finely tuned, they respond with No Thank You easily and naturally, etc. Not perfection, but really not different from the other kids. I just want to reassure you that yes, it is way harder to teach those early discipline things, it’s still useful to try, but Do Not despair if you can’t do (insert your usual parenting methods here) the way you did with the others. You will continue to get opportunities as you go. They will seem very small, but they will still grow in their own time. In layers. (Like an onion, you know.)
    It goes back to the gardening concept. Kids are more like gardens than like machines. If you don’t get the chance to plant something one season, the next is still workable, you just keep looking for the opportunities. In 30 years, it will be essentially impossible to tell if you planted that shrub there on year 2 or year 3. Nobody will care if your children learned consideration and manners when they were 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, provided they learned them. Many kids don’t learn those things completely until 5, anyway, when social awareness kicks in and they discover how to be nice to their friends. Nicer for the day-to-day if you can set the stage, and easier on them if they don’t tread on their friends before they have a chance to make friends, definitely. But that’s still a long frame of reference, and many opportunities. And fortunately, twins DO develop empathy much sooner than other kids (it starts at 10 weeks with all kids, but it extincts in singletons after about a week because they don’t need it), which helps them learn the social rules faster once they start to care – maybe evolutionarily because moms of twins won’t have as much capacity to teach more refined social function to twins, who knows. I still layer stuff on, over and over, and even if it seems little and pathetic and useless in the tiny little gaps I manage to catch, it grows.

  50. I just wanted to say that my daughter started breastfeeding SO MUCH MORE shortly after turning one, the separation anxiety increased too, and I thought I would lose my mind. And I only have one child! Her phase lasted longer than the time frame outlined in The Wonder Weeks, but it was really pretty well sorted out by the time she was one and a half (and the high-intensity phase was over in a couple weeks). You really are Wonder Woman for hanging in there! It’s not your fault!

  51. I have a pile of work staring me in the face today, so I apologize for not reading all the comments before commenting myself. Josy, it isn’t you! This is a hard phase, and you are already doing a tremendous job. My twins hit the clingy phase about the same time: they do outgrow it. New stuff arises, but for us the new stuff was easier. Take a break when you can, however you can. It’s time to put all your current assumptions on the table for possible change: budget, food ideals (for everyone), time, offers of help from friends, ideas about hiring help. Sometimes the goal is just to get through a stage with everyone reasonably sane, and that can mean rethinking assumptions and ideals. I have a note in my desk that I wrote myself when the Rascals were just a few months old: “It seems hard because it *is* hard.” Good luck and hang in there.

  52. OMG! Haven’t read the comments yet, but just wanted to say, thank you, thank you for writing that post. I thought I was going crazy, and almost wrote in to Moxie myself. My twin boys are 13 months old, and it is EXACTLY, EXACTLY the same thing. I can’t change one’s diaper, or even stand up, without complete, and total hysterics on their part. My DH has been (very nicely), saying it is all our fault b/c we (mostly I) have always immediately responded to them. They are my only two and I am at my wit’s end, so I don’t know how you are managing! Things that have helped for me though:- seriously, just saying again and again that this is just a phase and it WILL pass.
    – having my MIL over to ‘help’. Truth be told, with two twin toddlers she doesn’t help much, but it breaks up the day, and she offers a lot of moral support. She also brews the coffee when she’s here, always a bonus.
    – At a glance I saw people mentioning mother’s helpers. I did that for a few months and it really, really helped.
    – Get out. For example, today, I went for a two hour walk with them in the stroller. Home for a snack, then went out for another two hour walk. Hell, maybe I’ll lose those last 10 pounds in the process!
    Hang in there – you’re doing great!!!!
    p.s. – a nice glass of wine at the end of the day also helps in my case!

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