Let me start by saying this will not work for every child. Just because it doesn’t for yours doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It just means your kids need space.
I’m merely writing this for moms who are running out of options or maybe don’t know where to start.
To be honest, I have only been doing this for
10 days, but it’s working.
Here’s the facts:
Salem is 2 years and 3 months (I don’t believe in using months past two years..too much math for non parents.)
Maebel is 1 on January 13.
I’m expecting my third child March 28-April 3.
My dad lives with us, my mother will join us this year.
We bought a 3 bed 1.5 bath house before we found out about our third child.
When we first moved in, I attempted to put my 7 month old and my 22 month old in the same bed room.
There were a lot of things going against us.
Both my kids are used to sleeping in a room with a noise maker. Both noise makers quit during the move.
Their father deployed one week before we moved.
The house we bought backs up to a main drive. Cars are white noise, until they have sirens attached to tend to the fire at the top of the mountain.
Entirely new room, house, smells, and surroundings in general. A stressed mommy and papa who are trying to get things put together. And a mommy who is coming to terms with another baby. Also, babies can totally tell when you’re pregnant, I can feel it.
Needless to say, the bedroom sharing didn’t go well. My toddler spent the first month sleeping in bed with me, and not very well, he woke often crying out for daddy and being confused about where he was.
After a month of the greatest amount of stress I’ve ever felt (deployment, moving, pregnant, existing children..need I say more?) I asked my dad if he was willing to share a room with the now 8 month old.
He agreed, being the super Papa he is (“does she sleep through the night?”)!
The next 3 months, my super trooper of a dad put up with sneaking into the room once she was good and asleep, laying stock still if she stirred, and sneaking out before the sun came up…poor guy.
When we got the news that our addition (4th bedroom and additional bathroom) wasn’t going to happen any time soon due to hawaii’s building permit process, I felt it was probably time to move Maebel into her brothers room.
I chose New Year’s Eve. My neighborhood was going wild with very loud fire works and there was no way those two were going to sleep anyway.
My tools I deemed necessary:
Table top fan (in addition to ceiling fan)
Two video monitors
Two new noise makers
The fan and noise makers cover up each child’s normal sleeping noise that could be enough to stir the other. The area rug absorbs noise instead of allowing it to bounce off walls and hardwood. It also provided a cozy place for me to sit for hours with Salem.
The first 5 days I put Maebel to sleep and then watched a TV show with salem. Once the show was finished, I explained to salem that we were going to go lay in his crib. Mommy was going to stay beside him, and it was so so important that he stay quiet because “sissy go nigh nigh”
The difference here is that I was able to explain to salem what our situation was going to look like. When we moved in he was no where close to that level of understanding.
Our first night, they slept all night, which I believe to be a fluke, possibly beginners luck, or maybe God reassuring me that it’s going to work this time and I should stick with it when it gets hard.
The next night, Maebel woke around 1 am. I went into change her and rock her and this upset salem greatly. My dad was up with me and willing to rock her while I laid in my bed with Salem.
The third night, both kids slept but woke at 6 am. Very different from their usual 8-9 am! Made for a particularly crabby day.
The fourth night, Maebel woke again (she’s cutting teeth). She woke around 3 am, but sporadically cried out. I’m not convinced she was awake as I managed to fall back asleep. I woke again at 5 am when she had stirred herself completely. I went in to bring her a bottle and quickly run away for fear of waking salem at 5 am for the day. When I turned around his bed was empty. I ran out of the room into the living area sure he had escaped and commenced play time, but he wasn’t there. So I walked back to my room and saw him in my bed, ducky and elephant had accompanied him, and he had pulled the blanket up over his head. Maebel was still fussing, uninterested in her bottle, and salem was seemingly fed up with her whining. I was able to change Maebel and rock her back to sleep and return to bed myself!
Nights 5-8 nobody woke, but I was still having to sit with Salem until he fell asleep. This was taking up 2-2.5 hours of my evening and totally wearing me out.
Night 9, I decided it was time for the next change. No way was i going to sit that long for the next eternity of motherhood (and no way was daddy going to put up with that when he got home and had toddler duty while mom had newborn duty!) After bath time and pjs were on, I laid salem in his bed with ducky and elephant, pulled his favorite blanket up over his lower half of his body, and handed him his milk. I explained that I was going to rock sissy, but I was still here. Once Maebel finished her bottle, I pulled her blanket up beside her and continued to “sway” as I crossed the room to pick up salems cup. I set both on the dresser next to the door and salem fussed. I explained “mommy is still here. Shh, sissy go nigh nigh.” Once Maebel got heavy in my arms (about 3-5 minutes of rocking) I laid her in her crib and swiftly left the room. Salem cried out as the door closed, as did Maebel. I told myself I would go to the bathroom and if they were still fussing i would try another night. I left the bathroom…silence. I checked the video monitor and both kids were sleeping!!!!
Tonight was night 11. I repeated last night and there was not a whimper as I left the room.
Obviously we have a long road ahead of us. I’m sure there will be many a wakeful night, but I take serious joy out of each successful night and seeing a much better rested papa! Both kids love that they can play first thing in the morning (and mama loves that it buys her a little time to get things ready for the day!)
If you’re thinking toddler room sharing is going to have to happen for you, or maybe you’re thinking it’s something worth trying, I would really recommend giving yourself a 10 day trial and a 6 week determination. I have yet to reach the 6 week mark, but when I do, if there were more wakeful bed and nap times than sleeping ones, we’ll have to reassess. I’m optimistic that it won’t be that way, however!!
I’m fortunate enough to have babies that love sleeping in general. This includes naps.
Every article i read online about toddlers sharing rooms was that nap time became play time unless they are separated.
This was incredibly discouraging to me. Salem would have to nap on my bed, but with cloth and how heavy a wetter he is (even through disposables!) I was very uncomfortable with letting him sleep (and pee) in my bed.
There was always ignoring his nap? But he’s only two. Pediatricians recommend naps until at least 4, and my mom had us napping on weekends until much later. The few times he’s missed naps have really made for miserable evenings and over tired nights.
So I started with separate napping. The first 8 days salem spent nap time in my room. I had to spend an hour laying down with him until he fell asleep. Do the math..first 8 days 3.5 hours were spent daily helping my kids adjust to new sleeping arrangements. Sure, inconvenient. Totally worth it.
Day 9 came around and Maebel fell asleep within 10 minutes of being placed in her crib. This worked out well as those ten minutes were spent getting salem in a diaper and settled with milk for his nap. I addressed the “sissy go nigh nigh” before we entered the room. He was happy as a clam to climb up in his crib and lay quietly. The last few days this has been his pattern.
I think when it comes to small children sharing a room, parents tend to get overwhelmed, lose patience, and give up a little too quickly. And to be honest, your kids are probably super excited about being in the same room! It stimulates their mind and emotions and makes sleeping difficult.
Kids feel your stress. As the navy says, hope for the best and expect the worst. Give it a good solid try, keep your temper even, and be totally prepared for a few late nights and overtired days. How is that different than the rest of parenting, really? Most importantly, don’t think because it didn’t work this time that it will never work. Every few months your kids pass different milestones. It’s entirely possible for you to try and succeed in the next go around!!