How to Have Successful Independent Playtime for Twins

How to get your twins to play independently each day. This is great for giving twins some time alone. 

Independent playtime is important for all children, but it is especially important for twins. Our twins share a bedroom and are literally together 24/7, aside from when they are in independent playtime. It was a challenge to separate them, and we endured many days of tears and them pounding on their doors, calling for each other. It was quite heartbreaking, but I persisted because I believe that independent playtime for twins is essential. They need a chance to explore, play, and grow in their individual personality without their twin to influence them.

How to get your twins to play independently each day. This is great for giving twins some time alone.

Why You Should Do Independent Playtime for Twins

As I mentioned above, independent playtime is important for all children,  but I think that it is especially important for twins. The bond they share is absolutely incredible and it’s an amazing blessing to watch it grow and develop. However, let’s face it… one day, they’re going to be separated! Whether it’s for elementary school, high school, or college, one day they will be apart. While it’s natural that they will miss each other, I don’t want my girls to be so dependent on each other that they fall apart if they aren’t around each other.

I also think it’s a great way to nurture their individuality. I’ve noticed that my twins like to mimic one another. Josie will be reading a book and Margo will see her, and decide she wants to read that book for herself. Margo will be playing Paw Patrol, and Josie will come along and need to play with the pups at that exact same moment. They influence each other, for better or for worse. I want them to have a chance to not be influenced by each other for a few minutes a day; I want them to learn what their own interests are and develop their own preferences for play.

Independent Playtime for Twins at the Same Time

Since it is very common for twins to share a bedroom, it can be tricky to find two separate places for them to have independent playtime at.

Separate Bedrooms

This is our current setup. One twin goes in their bedroom, and the other twin goes in their brother, Theo’s room. Theo goes downstairs in our playroom, but if we didn’t have a playroom I would put him in our guest bedroom. You could even child-proof your master bedroom and do independent playtime in there. A bin of toys could be kept in your closet, or brought in from another room.

Bedroom and Playroom or Living Room

This worked for us in the beginning. Our playroom is on a different floor than our bedrooms, and since they were crying and calling for each other, I tried separating them by floors. Not being able to hear each other cry was extremely beneficial. However, I ultimately wanted them both in the bedrooms because our playroom is off of the kitchen with no door, and I know it’s hard for them to see me walking around and not be able to come to me.

Sound Machine

They no longer cry, but I still use a sound machine (with a different sound than they get for sleeping!). The bedrooms they are in are right next to each other, and I don’t want them to hear the other one playing and become sad that they aren’t together. 

Tip: If you are doing independent playtime for your twins at the same time, do whatever it takes to make it so they can’t hear each other.

Independent Playtime for Twins at Separate Times

If your logistics don’t work out and you simply don’t have the space to do independent playtime at the same time, there are still ways you can do it.

T.V. Time

How to get your twins to play independently each day. This is great for giving twins some time alone.

If you are a work-at-home-parent, or simply have housework to get done, you can alternate T.V. time with independent playtime for your twins. While one twin is having independent playtime, the other can get their T.V. time, and then vice versa.

One on One Time With Parents

You can also use independent playtime as an opportunity to have one on one time with your twins. I try to do this once a week with each child because every parent of twins knows that it’s hard to find one on one time with them!

Cleaning Up After Independent Playtime

I’ve noticed with my girls that when independent playtime is over they are so anxious to see each other that it’s like pulling teeth to get them to clean up. I’ve switched things up a little, and now I let them reunite and then we clean up both rooms together. They are much happier to clean up once they have given each other hugs.

Keep Your Tone Light

When I put my twins into independent playtime, I keep my voice bright and cheery. I say things such as “you’re going to have so much fun playing by yourself! Josie will be in the other room playing and having lot’s of fun and you can see her when your time is up!” I also remind them of what will happen after independent playtime.

Reward Them

I suppose this isn’t specific to twins, but I give them lots of praise when independent playtime is over. Our ‘reward’ is their television time for the day. My kids all love watching t.v., and it isn’t something we do a ton; for us, it is the perfect reward for independent playtime. If it’s a snowy day and we don’t have plans, I’ll sometimes let them watch a longer movie; if we have plans or I want them to play outside, it will be a quick ten minutes of some nursery rhymes (our favorite nursery rhyme show is Little Baby Bums). 

Other Helpful Twin Posts

How We Started Independent Playtime

Tips to Keep Your Newborn Twins on the Same Schedule

The 5 Best Things About Doing Babywise with Twins (and the 3 hardest!)

Tips and Advice for Feeding Twins

How to Get Your Twins to Sleep Through the Night

Caitlin is wife to Ben, and mama to their son Theo (4) and identical twin girls Josie and Margo (2). They live in Rhode Island and she is passionate about healthy living, keeping it honest and real, and bringing encouragement and solidarity to all moms, but especially to twin moms. You can follow the chaos over at her blog, Twin mom and More.

Frequently Asked Questions for Twins and Room Time

TwinMommy said…Twin question about room time. My twins are 17 months old and they share a room. I usually give them independent playtime in separate pack-n-plays with both in the same room. Any advice for moving from the pack-n-play to roomtime. I know I can’t leave them together yet. Val and twin Moms I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Ashlee said…My twins (now almost 2.5) have been doing room time since about 18 months. We do it separately. they need a break from each other sometimes otherwise they will kill each other and room time is great for that. they come back out reset till nap time. I have had them nap in separate rooms since they started disturbing each other’s naps. everyone’s priorities are different, but it is/was important for me to teach them to be ok independent of each other as well as together. I just babyproofed two rooms and gave a few toys to each. started with 15 minutes and then upped it to 30 then 45 min. at about 2 years old I went up to about an hour.

Val said…I still have yet to have successful room times with my twins who are 21 months old. Always ends in screaming, tears, crying, even if it’s 5 minutes. Something about twins, they just yearn to be together. Could you put a gate up in the room so you could have one twin in the room (and still keep an eye on them) and another one in the living room? Maybe put one in the living room in the pack and play so they can’t run over to try and knock down the gate to get at their sibling.The funniest thing mine do is toss toys back and forth over the gates because their rooms face each other. It’s like they are passing tools back and forth trying to escape their entrapments.

Ticia said…I was never really successful with alone time or room time with my twins. Room time eventually became successful, and we still do it from time to time, but it’s done together.As to how to try it separately, maybe that’s the other twin’s special time with Mom for the day?

Tracy said: Maybe I’m not doing it the way BW prescribes, but I don’t worry about separating my twins. They sometimes play together; sometimes play independently. More oftentimes than not it is parallel play, and I don’t see any harm in that. My impression (and I could be wrong) is that independent play is to teach them that they don’t need to be entertained; that they can entertain themselves. Like I said, maybe it’s just my twins, but they don’t spend a lot of time entertaining each other (like most toddlers, they’re pretty self absorbed) so the time that they have independent of me (but still with their sibling) is still teaching them that. I guess my point is, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I babyproofed a couple different rooms in my house and let them go at it.

Oh, I should mention, their rooms are 100% babyproofed, so they often have independent play in there; they are right next to each other and they can go back and forth easily

Jessica said…I would allow one twin to have room time ALONE while you are having a structured learning time with the other child, or time with Mommy, possibly TV time. Then switch them. Maybe there could even be a short period before you switch them that they do something together, maybe snack time, structured learning time together. The possibilities are endless. 😉

The Wards said…I have 2.5-year-old twins that still have roomtime. As Ashlee said about her twins, my girls need a break from each other. They love playing together but there comes a point where they need a break (not to mention the other benefits of roomtime). And, I want them to learn to be independent of each other as well as of me. They share a room so one of them has room time in their room and the other is in the play room. They switch each day who is in what room. It’s worked really well for us. Hope that helps.

Tracy said…TwinMommy, my boys aren’t that old yet, but I always do independent play time out of each other’s site. They can sometimes hear each other and that starts some nice loud twin communication, but oh well. Anyway, you might want to try moving their playpens to different rooms before moving to room time. I think it’s important for them to learn to be “alone” just like a singleton does.

twinmommy said…Thanks so much for all your thoughts! It is greatly appreciated. We currently do 40 minutes of independent playtime where they are both in separate pack-n-plays next to each other (like Tracy’s comment and I totally agree with you about “independent” from Mom!). Mine like to be together as well. The roomtime part scares me in that I have a gentle giant of a little boy (97th percentile in height) and his sister is much smaller (3rd percentile in weight). I’m worried about them hurting each other in the room as I have to keep a close watch when they are out of the room. Based on your comments I think I’ll wait until they start trying to escape before giving up the pack-n-plays for roomtime. From Val’s comment, I could hear the whistling from the Great Escape in the background 🙂 Thanks again everyone, I LOVE this blog!

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