I may have figured out a solution to our sleeping dilemma. Our issue is that Ben requires less sleep than Nick and is probably ready to do one nap a day. Nick still very much needs more sleep and two naps a day. I tried to move them to one nap and Nick would just be in melt down mode by nap time. I tried moving their morning nap out a little, which is fine for Nick, but Ben would still be lying awake for the longest time. Also, he would keep Nick awake too long so he would also end up not getting enough sleep.
I have refused to move them to two separate schedules because that would mean no break for me all day long and I just can't do that....at least, I cannot do that and still be a good mom.
So, today I decided to try something new. I put Nick down for his first nap at 10:30 and let Ben stay awake a little longer. Nick was not especially happy about this, as he has never gone to sleep in their room by himself. His brother has always been in the bed nearby so I was not sure if he would be too upset or not. He cried a little for a few minutes but it was more of a cry of protest than being upset and he was asleep within 10 minutes. Not bad.
Ben stayed up an extra 30 minutes and hung out with me. This was actually a really good thing. We had some one-on-one time together and I was also able to do a few things that I normally would have done when they were both in bed anyway. I could not get over how much quieter it was with just Ben awake and also how much slower things seemed to go. When the two of them are awake together, things are really busy around here.
Just before 11:00, I could that Ben was started to get sleepy so I changed his diaper and took him upstairs. This was another moment I was not sure of, whether or not he would wake up Nick. I suspected he would not, as Nick is used to going to sleep with Ben still awake and making noises. Sure enough, Ben cried/whined for just a couple of minutes and was asleep within 10 or so minutes. Wow! What a change!
When I put both of them down at the same time, they sometimes become real noisy, running around their crib and making funny noises towards each other and hitting their hands on the sides of their cribs. They really get each other going and the noise and activity level sometimes really ramps up. I had tried several things to deal with this and finally decided that was just something they were going to do, unless I separated them. It normally did not last for too long, as Nick especially would get tired and go to sleep so Ben would lay down and start chatting to himself for a while until he would eventually fall asleep.
This new solution may be just what we needed for now, until they are both ready to go to one nap a day. I may just put Nick down for the second nap and let Ben stay up. Having just Ben up is easier than I thought it would be. He is the lower energy level child, of the two of them, and does not require quite as much attention as Nick, which is another reason why it is nice to have him up alone so he can have a bit of one-on-one attention to himself. He is less likely to seek it out or compete for the attention than Nick is so he probably tends to not get quite as much of it as Nick does normally. I try to watch for that but it is hard to do all of the time.
I am relieved that this seems to be a good solution. I felt bad leaving Ben to lay awake so long in his crib, but Nick could not handle the same hours and I knew I needed some sort of break during the day. I wish I had thought of this sooner but I'm glad I finally figured it out.