When people see twins they commonly think that they must be inseparable, and be at a loss without each other close by. Especially if they are identical twins and have a “special connection”.
When my girls were first born, I felt this way also. They always slept side by side as newborns and shared a baby swing and play mat. For feedings they were beside each other on the couch and they went everywhere together.
I can only think of three times in their 21 months of life where I took one on an outing and left the other with her daddy.
I had a really hard time when they were three months old and we put them in separate cribs for sleeping. I had an even harder time when they were twelve months old and we put them in separate rooms.
Notice I said “I” had a hard time. They were fine and the separations were for the best at that time. But even though the changes were for the best, I still worried that they would have some kind of phycological damage from being apart or that they wouldn’t be able to handle being alone. I had to face the fact that it was my own preconceived ideas that were the issue.
If your twins love being together all the time, that’s great! But chances are, even if they like to sleep in the same bed and are super close, they still need a little bit of alone time every now and then. Or a special outing with mom or dad that lets them have some focused time without their twin.
Twins are often seen as one entity. Especially if they are identical twins and people have a hard time telling them apart, it’s just easier for others to think of them as being exactly the same.
However, as every parent of twins knows, they are two separate people with two different personalities, souls and thoughts, no matter how alike they may be. The goal is always to cultivate the special relationship and closeness of twins, while celebrating their individuality and uniqueness at the same time.
3 Reasons You Need to Give Your Twins Alone Time
It helps build their confidence in themselves and their abilities
When one twin is more dominant than the other, or more independent, it can leave the other one feeling dependant on the stronger personality, and feeling insecure in themselves as an individual. If the dominant twin does everything-makes all the decisions, and calls all the shots-the follower may happily go along with it all for the sake of peace and harmony (and that’s ok ), but it doesn’t help them in the long run. Alone time encourages the more insecure twin (or if they both are that way) to have confidence in what they can do, and in their ability to make their own decisions and have their own ideas.
It helps develop their unique personality
Even twins that are very similar still have their own personality. Outsiders may never notice it, but the people close to them will. Alone time means they can play what they want to play, and use their imagination however they want without input from a well meaning twin. Especially if one twin is less dominant, they need time alone to do things their way, read the stories they want to read, dress the dolls how they think they should be or build the lego house with their own design.
It helps them see themselves as a separate person and be comfortable with themselves
For every twin there will eventually come a time in life when they will have to do things by themselves.As they get older they may have different friends or be in different activities. Or go to different events, classes or college. Even if they prefer doing most things together with their twin, they will still need to be able to be comfortable on their own at some point. If you can encourage this from the time they are small by giving them independent play time in their cribs or rooms, or letting them play outside by themselves, it will help them to be independent later on in life.
I have one twin that likes to be alone and have her space (even at age 21 months!) and the other is the opposite. She doesn’t like to be alone and can only last about 15 min playing by herself in her crib. I make her have this alone time every now and then anyway since her sister is more dominant and this gives her a chance to do what she wants and play with the toys in her crib how she wants to. Then after she’s had some time to herself, I can have some one-on-one time with her while her sister has her longer independent play time (usually 30-40min). We only started alone time once they had their separate rooms (around 12 months), but back when they shared a room they still had play time in their own cribs and since they were under 12 months old, this was enough independent time for them at that age.
Please note that I am not saying you should leave your baby or toddler “alone” as in unattended. If they are having alone time playing in their cribs you can have a baby monitor going or the door open, just like you would if they were sleeping for the night or nap time. Also, I don’t think newborns are in need of time alone in a room when they are awake, they are still at the stage of needing a caregiver close by and obviously every parent is different when it comes to what age they feel comfortable letting their baby play in a room alone (in a safe, contained area such as a crib or play yard). This post is aimed more towards older babies and toddlers.