Dream a Little Dream for Me, Girls

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Whenever I post a picture of the girls napping, the comments and messages of “HOW?!!” instantly start flooding in. I’ve been jokingly accused of giving them sleeping medicine, photoshopping, getting them dressed after they’re sleeping…all kinds of crazy things. I thought about doing a blog post a few weeks ago after I got so many messages about it, but it just didn’t seem blog-worthy to me–after all, I’ve watched them nap together for over a year now, so it’s a nonevent in our house. But, today, the people have spoken, and I’ve decided to share the “great secret” of how I started Lela and Luna Darling’s nap routine and how I’m able to take pictures of them sleeping. Prepare to be massively underwhelmed. 🙂

Luna Darling was born in a birthing center with Lela (14 months old at the time) in the next room over. Within an hour of her birth, Luna was snuggled up next to Lela in my recovery bed, and the girls took their first nap together. Check out this precious newborn love:

We brought Luna home the next morning, and I remember frantically trying to lay Lela down in her crib at the same time that she was used to taking a nap before Luna was born–it was an absolute crap show. Both girls were having meltdowns, our house was full of very loud visitors, I was exhausted, and nothing felt like it was working. So, I decided to take both girls to my bed, snuggle up next to them, and all THREE of us finally got some rest–well, they took a nap while I watched them sleep, holding my breath that one of them was going to wake the other one up…but they didn’t startle even a bit. Barely moved.

So, from there, I spent two months home with them on maternity leave, where they napped together every single day. Same time. Same place on my bed. Same closeness. I would lay with them for about 15-20 minutes while they both slowly nursed to sleep. Once I knew they were definitely out, I would start tidying up my bedroom, eating lunch, and spending one-on-one time with Lennox, who we homeschooled at the time. Double naps quickly became THE lifesaver for our family, and the two hour period of quiet gave me some sanity in the middle of our growing family’s chaotic days. Plus, it looked precious. Some days, one of them would be extra fussy and not want to nap, but I’d make sure that we were back on the same routine by the end of each week, and I NEVER scheduled commitments from the 12-2 block of our day (no doctor appts, errands, play dates, nothing). It was our quiet time, and that consistency really paid off in the long run, I think.

After eight weeks home on leave, I went back to my banking career, and the girls were put in daycare for the middle chunk of every weekday, where there was actually even MORE structure than we had at home. Even though they weren’t napping in the same bed anymore, they were still napping at the same times and on the same schedules, which really helped keep things easy for us. On weekends and holidays, we were able to keep up that same nap routine and lay them down together at noon on our bed, snuggled next to each other. Within minutes, they would both be asleep.

So, how do I get the pictures though? Well, first of all, they are already dressed before I put them to sleep. We usually handle errands in the first part of a day; so by the time it’s naptime, they’ve been out of the house already–and because I’m an abnormally over-the-top mom, they are almost always in matching outfits. #noshame

Once noon hits, I make sure that my bed is stripped down to just the flat, white sheet with no pillows. I lay both girls down in the middle of the bed, cover them up with their favorite blanket, and I snuggle up closely next to them (Luna is always in the middle, with me and Lela on either side). If you notice in each of the pictures, they are usually in a different position, and this is hilariously because once they are falling asleep, I actually can’t move them. Sometimes, they snuggle facing each other, sometimes they sleep back to back, sometimes they sleep flat on their backs, and they definitely move around in their sleep, so it really is luck of the draw. I just roll with whatever position I get because, again, they will definitely wake up or startle if I try to position them.

I stay snuggled against Luna for about ten minutes while I check emails and they settle down; I make it a special point not to make eye contact with either of them while I’m laying there because, I swear, once our eyes meet, they bounce right out of bed. So, I try to make myself as invisible as possible, while periodically checking if their eyes are closed. Once I see that both of them are asleep, I slide out of bed as silently as a ninja and take their blanket with me…leaving the two of the them safely snuggled in the middle of my bed.

Normally, I have to pull the sheet tightly to get the wrinkles out from where I was laying, which is the scariest part because I’m always scared that slight movement will wake them up. But once I have a flat surface, I’m able to just place things around them, like flowers or dolls or tea cups. I normally have a general idea of what I want the picture to look like, but sometimes, I have to massively change my plans based on how they’re positioned.

But once I have my ridiculous scene all laid out around these sleeping landmines, I stand on a step stool at the foot of the bed with my camera pointed directly down and take a couple of overhead shots in HDR mode. I try to take about five different shots, varying the angle of each shot. And while they’re still napping, I upload them from my camera to my phone, where I edit in Snapseed and upload to Instagram in peace. Now that they’re older, I keep everything laid out on the bed while I work on edits, just because the girls always think it’s hilarious to wake up next to a bunch of flowers and stuff. They also probably think I’m crazy…which, let’s be honest, anybody that surrounds their sleeping children with random household objects just to take pictures is probably actually crazy. Again #noshame.

So, to recap. If you want adorable sleeping pictures of your Irish Twins:

  1. Establish routine as soon as possible and get them used to sleeping next to each other in the earliest of days.
  2. Get them used to sleeping on a flat surface without blankets and pillows. It’s not only the safest way to sleep, but it also gives you a good backdrop for pictures.
  3. Lay snuggled up next to them while they’re winding down, so it pushes them closer to each other. This also gives you a much deserved excuse to relax for awhile. Never leave the room in the early newborn days if you have them sleeping together, because you don’t want to risk the older baby rolling over on the newborn.
  4. Once they’re asleep, sneak out of bed with your best silent barrel roll, crawling across your floor like the ninja mom that you are
  5. Set the scene with flowers, toys, dolls, etc–whatever creativity struck that day
  6. Stand on a step stool at the foot of the bed with a camera and take a direct overhead shot
  7. Edit while they’re still sleeping
  8. Repeat daily

    The real question is: will I be able to get Leif to nap with these two next month??

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