Thursday, February 5, 2009

Double time-outs: the logistics

Years before I got pregnant with the twins, I knew a woman who had identical girls. Like my boys, they were feisty. She had tried giving them time-outs in pack-n-plays, but it didn't work. They just played, even with no toys.
So she locked them in the laundry room.
I was horrified.
She insisted that she had no choice, especially when she had to do two time-outs at once. She said that I didn't understand because I didn't have twins. My older kids are 17 months apart. Singleton moms just didn't get it, she said.
She was right.
I didn't understand then and I don't understand now, even with feisty toddler twins of my own.
What she did was wrong.
It is possible to give double time-outs without locking twins in laundry rooms. For a while, I did simultaneous time-outs almost daily, and Matthew and Jonathan are far bigger and stronger than her girls were at their age.
It's not pretty and it's not fun, but it is possible.
Here's how I do it:
I squat down, grab both boys and sit on my heels. I pull one twin on each knee and, for each child, I bring one of my arms over his shoulder and diagonally across his chest like a seat belt. Then I grab one of his thighs and he is locked in.
He can't get out.
I very awkwardly place my head between theirs so that if they thrash about, their heads will hit my cheeks instead of each other's skulls. Then I count two minutes in my head and pray that my arms will hold out.
When it's over, they both get a reminder, a hug and kiss.
I started the double time-outs because the boys tend to take advantage of each other's distress. If one child is getting a time-out, the other will often commit the same offense just to test me. It took some time, but they are finally learning that I am stronger, more clever and more determined than they are.
More often, I am doing one time-out at a time.
They are even learning to sit for the duration with only occasional repositioning (Well, okay, every 15 seconds or so).
As for my friend, she stopped the laundry room time-outs after one daughter found a hanger on top of the dryer and got the hook caught in her mouth. Her daughter recovered just fine, but my friend was shaken.
I'm just sorry it took an injury for her to come to her senses.

1 comment:

cat said...

I will definitely remember this one!