"Built-in Playmate" -- another twin myth? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 04-07-2010, 05:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am a SAHM of 4yo b/b twins. If I had a dollar for every time somebody said to me, “it must be so easy to have twins, they keep each other amused”, I could afford to hire a mother’s helper to help me keep my twins amused. Seriously. I would say they keep each other amused maybe 10% of the time. Their favorite activities involve me in some way -- riding bikes, cooking, reading, taking a bath. Or, they get involved in separate activities, both of which require attention/participation by Mommy (which means double duty on my part). And, of course, regardless of what they are doing, very often something gets broken or somebody gets hurt, and generally it ends in crying. So a good portion of my day is spent refereeing, or comforting.

Most of my attempts to get things done around the house while they are playing are futile. “Mommy time” (if it happens at all) comes in the wee hours of the night, after I’ve put them to bed, cleaned up all the messes, and prepped for the next day (as evidenced by this 2am post!)

So…I don't mean to sound like a whiner because it's really not all THAT bad, I’m basically just wondering...is this whole “built-in playmate” thing yet another twin myth? Or will it actually happen at some point. And, if so, at what age did it happen for you? Dare I dream?

Amy â Unschooling my twin boys, born April 2006 (12 weeks early at 2 lbs each). Astrology for Parenting -- helping parents attain authentic and respectful relationships with their children and families.
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#2 of 22 Old 04-07-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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For a long time I couldn't anticipate my boys playing well together. Things would start well, but by about 10 minutes in they would be fighting or arguing. I spent a lot of time intervening. I just had to expect that they would need me, and then be pleasantly surprised if they did well together for an extended play period.

Now, as 5 year olds, I can expect that they will play well for longer periods of time. They still have their off times, and I do separate them from time to time, but on the whole, they are good playmates for each other.

Twin boys (2/05) and little sister (10/07)
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#3 of 22 Old 04-07-2010, 04:43 PM
 
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My nieces (MZ girls without siblings, FWIW) started playing together reasonably without an adult involved at about 4 and now at 5 1/2 are great playmates. My kids have a little different dynamic because there are 4 of them. I get quite a lot of time where I don't have to be involved now (at almost 3) but there are a huge variety of ways that the 4 kids divide and rarely does the same pair play together without adult involvement for more than 20 minutes or so.

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mother of Patrick (7/31/03), and Michael, William, and Jocelyn (4/27/07)
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#4 of 22 Old 04-07-2010, 04:47 PM
 
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Mine are 2.5 and play mostly nicely together until I need to do something like make dinner, change over the laundry, work or sit down to nurse their baby sister. Then all heck brakes loose and somebody sits on somebody, one grabs something the other one has and runs away with it, and it usually always ends in tears. I find that if they are fighting over something the best way to stop the argument is to take it away and put it where they can't reach it - be it a book, a toy, whatever. After the third or fourth time I did this, they learned that they needed to play together 'cause if they fought, nobody would have it. To the point where they have learned to push the automatic timer button on the microwave and time each other with the toy. I make it sound ideal, believe me there are times I would like to tear my hear out and run screaming into the hills, but they are slowly learning the regulate themselves. I definately have to moderate, but if I'm nursing I can parent from the couch in the short term until I need to step in. We have even made up a song for the mini trampoline in the living room to time turns. Most of the time it's ok, but everybody has their moments, especially when cheerios are involved and somebody is stealing from the other person's pile, like now. *sigh*

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#5 of 22 Old 04-07-2010, 04:57 PM
 
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i don't have twins myself but i do lo's close in age and the playing together nicely will not always follow as is the case with any sibs twins or not, at the moment 3 of my lo's are "sought of playing together" while my eldest is playing on her ds.

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#6 of 22 Old 04-07-2010, 09:46 PM
 
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"Built in playmate" is not a myth for us, but that doesn't mean the implication of parenting ease bears out in the wash!

Our twins (now >3y.o.) love to spend a lot of their time together and share activities. However, the downside of that is two time-consuming circumstances that would not occur without the "built-in playmate":
- frequent and sometime vicious fighting
- spurring each other on to much great mischief than two non-twin siblings would ever get into!

I know of a woman who had triplets, singleton, singleton. Even after her youngest singleton was around 4 years old, she still said the triplets were easier to manage around the house because they constantly moved everywhere as a unit and played together nicely.

Six kids, sixth sense, six degrees of separation. . . from sanity!
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#7 of 22 Old 04-07-2010, 10:05 PM
 
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Like all relationships, the interaction between twins varies.

I feel very lucky that my twins, for the most part, have always played together nicely and as they get older those periods of play without my involvement is longer and longer. Of course, they'd rather be doing something that involves me or my husband but are usually fine when I tell them we cannot for whatever reason - to the point that I sometimes worry we are not engaging with them enough. When younger, there was little to no fighting because my son tended to accommodate his sister. He no longer does that and we have an occasional rift between them. They normally work it out w/out us intervening. So fighting was never our issue but needing my involvement – which I think is normal for a singleton too – could be consuming.

I had a horrible migraine yesterday and my children were home from school. They entertained themselves all day until the neighbor children came home from school and they all played together outside. My house was a disaster with tents, legos, and puppets everywhere...but I can't complain since they played for so long without my intervention.

When other children are around, they tend to separate and each play with different children.
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#8 of 22 Old 04-07-2010, 11:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Novella View Post
she still said the triplets were easier to manage around the house because they constantly moved everywhere as a unit and played together nicely.
Consider me jealous. I rarely have all three of my triplets in the same place at the same time unless they are strapped into the car.

Kate
mother of Patrick (7/31/03), and Michael, William, and Jocelyn (4/27/07)
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#9 of 22 Old 04-08-2010, 10:12 AM
 
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My twins are definitely built in playmates but I'm not sure if that would have been as easy with JUST twins. B&C get plenty of "down time" from each other because they have so many other siblings. They do tend to gravitate back towards each other a LOT though. All of my kids are very close and play a lot/well together and I have the older kids to intervene quickly if needed (all of the older three now know how to stop biting before it starts ) in case I'm not around. I'm sure it would be much more time consuming for me without that dynamic. Of course, keeping up with six IS time consuming so it all evens out in the end.

I agree that it just depends on so many factors. That may not be your truth and I think it's fine to express that right back at the 'ass'umer.
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#10 of 22 Old 04-08-2010, 11:47 AM
 
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My boys are definitely best friends, and have been for a long time. I think they were about 4 when they would play imaginary games for hours on end - I remember one afternoon when my bedroom closet was a fire truck; an empty cardboard box was a ship; under the kitchen table was Tigger's house. They went from one to the other, all afternoon.

They are 15 years old now, and still very best friends. They can just sit and talk for hours - I have no idea what they talk about.

I do consider myself very lucky - I certainly don't believe that every set of twins gets along as well as mine.

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#11 of 22 Old 04-08-2010, 06:20 PM
 
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I have been told that my nearly 4-y.o. mz twin boys are very 'twinny' and I can now see what they mean. They are together nearly all of the time (unless we physically separate them by each adult taking them to separate locations, or they are in their separate classrooms in preschool). Whether it is a good thing or not depends on the day! Many times they will play happily together (and with their older sister)--and there seem to be more and more of those times. However, many times, it just means that one twin follows the other one around, endlessly antagonizing the other twin and I end up with two sobbing, screaming masses of cranky little boy hanging off my leg! So, to answer your question, it seems to be improving with their age that they play with one another fairly well and without constant mommy attention.

Cindi, mama to Hannah (7/04) :, Eli & Sam (6/06) :
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#12 of 22 Old 04-08-2010, 08:28 PM
 
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I think that kids are each different. We wouldn't expect any two singletons to automatically be natural playmates, but we wouldn't necessarily say it doesn't happen, either. Twins are the same. Sometimes they're naturally compatible, and other times, they have a harder time getting along or just don't prefer each other's company.

My twins fight a lot, but also play well together in between times, and in general I'd say they're very close playmates. Each of them, however, gets along better with DD1 than they do with each other. They're 3. They're also, however, accustomed to playing with each other, because for a large part of the year, I'm just too busy during the day with my own work to get down on the floor and play with them, so they have learned to play together without too much intervention from me.

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#13 of 22 Old 04-10-2010, 12:02 AM
 
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Like Cindi's twins, mine seem very "twinny" to me. They play with each other all the time and really are amazing playmates. They like all the same stuff and move seamlessly from one thing to the other, most of the time. Unfortunately, they also move seamlessly from playing happily to kicking the ever-loving crap out of each other, and I have to intervene quite often to keep the blood from flowing. Tonight they were playing before bedtime, I went downstairs to put my comforter in the washing machine (thanks for barfing on it, cat!) and they were both in hysterical tears when I returned. Joy.

Betsy, mama to beautiful, strong MZ twins Lillian and Kate, born 11 weeks early on January 10, 2006.
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#14 of 22 Old 04-10-2010, 12:13 AM
 
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Totally offtopic but it must be the day for it. My three year old barfed on my comforter today.
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#15 of 22 Old 04-11-2010, 01:54 AM
 
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Originally Posted by hergrace View Post
Consider me jealous. I rarely have all three of my triplets in the same place at the same time unless they are strapped into the car.
I hear ya!

Six kids, sixth sense, six degrees of separation. . . from sanity!
Not sure that I'm crunchy, but definitely a "tough chew".
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#16 of 22 Old 04-13-2010, 12:29 AM
 
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I'm usually the one who suggests that my twins have a built in best friend when approached by strangers about how difficult it must be to have twins. I do agree with them that in some ways it is more challenging to have two at once, but on the other hand, they always have a buddy. Our twins are our first children, and we have a few friends with children just a few months older or younger. All of these children are singletons, though some have siblings, and I remember the other moms talking about how hard it was to get things done or to even go pee, because the LO's did not want to be put down or left in a room alone. I always thought I had it easy because my twins were never alone, they always had one another to keep them company.

Now, they definitely fight, DS has a really hard time with wanting whatever DD has at the moment, and DD has a really hard time refraining from injuring him, but for the most part they get along marvelously. Like pp, I sometimes feel guilty for not including myself in their play more frequently, but I also don't want to disrupt their rhythm. They have always been really good about sharing, and have never gone through a "mine" stage. So, yes, the myth is true in our house, though I do sometimes wonder about the changes their relationship will go through once they become fully indoctrinated in gender stereotypes. Off topic, but the other day a 5 year old boy made fun of my DS's crocs because they are purple. WTF? I didn't realize that purple was a "girls color". Luckily DS wasn't fazed at all, can't imagine what the little boy would have said if DS had been wearing one of the princess dresses he so loves.

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#17 of 22 Old 04-13-2010, 11:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi everybody -- I'm the OP. Just wanted to say thanks for all your replies. As is often the case, my concerns about my boys not keeping each other amused started waning immediately after I wrote the original post. Today was heavenly! They played together most of the day without incident. At one point, D came running down the stairs to ask me for two juices, one for the "Mommy Froggie" and one for the "Baby Froggie". I assumed he was referring to his stuffed animals or something, but he was referring to himself and his brother. This was amazing for two reasons: first, this is the first time they have played a "let's pretend" kind of game together and, secondly, because he asked for TWO juices, not just one for himself!

I probably should have mentioned/realized that a lot of our recent struggles are probably due to the fact that we moved into a new house about 6 weeks ago. It's a much bigger/better house, and I assumed the boys would be much happier here. However, I, myself, had a hard time adjusting and, even if they were more accepting of the change than I was, their bickering and clinging may have simply been in response to MY inner turmoil.

Most of all, I was happy to hear your stories because it confirmed that the "Built-in Playmate" thing is indeed true. I just really wanted to make sure I wasn't holding onto an unrealistic expectation. It's been very eye-opening to discover how much people romanticize the whole twin thing (including myself). So many of my fantasies about what it would be like were shattered in the reality of how challenging the sheer logistics of two babies turned out to be. Now, when somebody says to me "Twins?!? Awww...I've always wished for twins!", I resist the urge to give them examples of what it's REALLY like. And, the bottom line is, I certainly wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING in the world. And now I have the built-in playmate thing to look forward to! Thanks, guys!

Amy â Unschooling my twin boys, born April 2006 (12 weeks early at 2 lbs each). Astrology for Parenting -- helping parents attain authentic and respectful relationships with their children and families.
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#18 of 22 Old 04-17-2010, 08:53 PM
 
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It's definitely true for us (my twins are now 7 years old). Downside: sometimes it feels like a never-ending "playdate," and the silliness can overwhelm me way more than the fighting.

My twins are fraternal boys and they are very different people (i.e. I don't think they would naturally be friends if they weren't brothers), but they love each other sooooo much, and do get along splendidly much of the time.

For us, things have been mostly dreamy ever since the sixth birthday.

HTH!

Lex

Mindfully mothering SIX kids (ages 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 & 11) in a small house with a lot of love.
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#19 of 22 Old 04-20-2010, 06:04 PM
 
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mine are more like -- built in Wrestlemania opponent. Mine fight about 80% of the time. Phew!

Catholic homeschooling mom of 5 - a teenager, a kindergartener, twin boys and a tiny princess. Follow the Adventures! 

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#20 of 22 Old 04-20-2010, 06:47 PM
 
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fighting is a kind of play though Dianna. i mean that in all seriousness. my ten month apart boys (now 10 and 9) have a much more intense relationship than any other siblings, including the twins thus far.

love/hate.

desperately need you/get out of my sight.

it's been amazing to watch them grow. we did have the bite you every chance i get hold of you phase way back in toddlerdom. now it's chinese burns and full on wrestling (ay ay ay!) but they would fight the world for each other and i am floored by how the intensity of their closeness, gentleness and compassion matches their moments of animosity towards each other.

have hope

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#21 of 22 Old 04-22-2010, 12:31 AM
 
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It's definitely been a perk of having twins for us. My girls play together all the time. There are frequent fights, they mostly happen when one of my girls gets frustrated with the other and pinches her sister, but they can go hours without that happening.

Like Lexbeach's boys, mine are pretty different and I don't know if they'd be friends if they met at school, etc, but they are best friends.

I kind of dread having my singleton home without his sisters when the girls go to school next year. I'm not all that keen on being the source of entertainment.

SAHM to F & P, : fraternal twins born 3/05, : I, born 12/07 & at 5 weeks in July 2009
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#22 of 22 Old 04-26-2010, 12:37 AM
 
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[QUOTE=wondertwins;15292389]I'm usually the one who suggests that my twins have a built in best friend when approached by strangers about how difficult it must be to have twins. I do agree with them that in some ways it is more challenging to have two at once, but on the other hand, they always have a buddy. Our twins are our first children, and we have a few friends with children just a few months older or younger. All of these children are singletons, though some have siblings, and I remember the other moms talking about how hard it was to get things done or to even go pee, because the LO's did not want to be put down or left in a room alone. I always thought I had it easy because my twins were never alone, they always had one another to keep them company.[QUOTE]


This is identical to my experience. I find parenting twins easier than singletons. I am rooting for a second twin pregnancy for this reason(and others).

homebirthing,,homeschooling intactalactivist mom to 3dd jumpers.gifand 2dsbouncy.gif.babyf.gifAlways busy
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