We recently transitioned the kids from their own rooms into a shared room, and it has been going well! Some of my fondest memories growing up were of my sister and I room sharing. Long after our parents told us it was "lights out," we'd crawl into each other's beds, hide under our blankets, and whisper away until we fell asleep. We thought we were so clever, that we had our parents fooled. I'm sure my parents knew exactly what the two of us were up to, but let us do it anyway. With such positive memories of room sharing, I always knew I wanted my kids to share a room.
We had struggled with toddler sleep ever since Noelle turned two. Bedtimes were a battle - she would resist sleep and stall whenever possible. We would put her down by 8:30 pm, but she would cry out screaming 2-3 times on average before finally falling asleep. It put us on edge, and we couldn't fully unwind at night until we knew she was truly asleep. To add to that, she would wake up in the middle of the night anyway, crawl into our bed, and sleep with us until morning. We got used to it, and actually enjoyed the sight of her little body nestled against us when we woke, but the disrupted sleep still took its toll. We never felt well-rested.
She adores her little brother, and is so good with him... so we hoped that by transferring him into her room, she would feel a stronger sense of comfort and security. However, we wanted to wait until Jaren was done nursing and consistently sleeping through the night to take the plunge. We finally put them together when Noelle was 3 years 3 months, and Jaren was 14 months.
There were a couple things I was concerned about that didn't turn out to be a big deal...
- Different sleeping habits - Noelle sleeps with the closet light on, no white noise, and the door open (all this were a result of our toddler sleep issues and wanting her to feel as safe as possible). Jaren slept in the dark, with the marpac white noise machine on full blast, and the door closed.
- Waking each other up - Like I mentioned above, Noelle would scream out for us 2-3x before she finally settled down to sleep. And what was it going to look like if either one of them woke up crying in the middle of the night?
The first two nights, we staggered bedtimes. Jaren went down first around 7:30 pm and fell into a deep sleep shortly after. After I put him down, I read some books with Noelle in what is now a playroom (Jaren's old room), brushed her teeth, and got her ready for bed. Right before we entered the room, I told Noelle that we had to be very quiet and use our whisper voices because Jaren was sleeping. She is old enough to understand that, and really followed through! The first night, she did call out for me, but used her whisper voice to call me. I saw her looking straight at the monitor saying, "mommy, mommy...." in a very soft whisper. I went to her, and turns out she just wanted some water (it's been very dry and hot around here!). Jaren slept right through it. They both slept until morning. Noelle never cried out again, didn't scream out in terror, and never climbed into our bed in the middle of the night like she had been doing for the last 15 months. We were stunned.
The third night, Jaren was not tired at his usual bedtime because he woke up late from his afternoon nap. Being the control freak I am, I thought maybe we should wait for Jaren to fall asleep before putting Noelle down... but Mr. Heels countered that there were going to be times when bedtimes don't stagger perfectly, and we should just try putting Noelle down with Jaren still awake and see what happens I was really nervous about it, but let Mr. Heels take care of the entire bedtime. He walked into the room with Jaren still rolling around in his crib. Noelle was so happy to see Jaren still awake, and Jaren was now standing in his crib to see what all the commotion was about. I braced myself for a long night, but the long night never came. Seriously! Jaren was still in his crib, Mr. Heels put Noelle in her bed, and he walked out after tucking her in. They settled themselves after 15-20 minutes of making all sorts of noise and fell asleep.
It's been about two weeks, and most nights we're still able to do the staggered bedtime, but we've had a couple nights where we'll put them down while both are still awake, and that hasn't been a problem. They can settle themselves on their own without us.
As for my worries with their different bedtime habits, those turned out to be unfounded. We keep the white noise machine on, leave the closet light on, and the door open. These changes haven't been a problem for either child. We'll close the door once the kids are fast asleep.
Noelle woke up first, but Jaren was still sleeping... so she just quietly read a book until he woke.
- No more stalling at bedtime - Jaren has always been easy to put down, but Noelle would stall upwards of an hour. Not anymore. Once they're down, they are down. I thought early bedtimes were a thing of the past, but now both kids are down by 8 pm again. Even if Noelle doesn't fall asleep right away, she will sing and whisper to herself or lay there until she falls asleep on her own. She really is feeling more comfortable and secure just being in the same room as her brother.
- They entertain each other when they wake up in the morning until we come get them. They will also sleep when they see the other one sleeping. Peer pressure at its finest.
- They will wake each other up - one morning, Jaren woke up crying at 5:30 am... so I rushed to go get him before he could wake up Noelle. Too late. They were both up, and up for good. Another time, Noelle woke up at 3 am crying because she wanted her pull-ups changed. She woke Jaren up too. Luckily, Jaren was able to settle himself back to sleep right away. We haven't run into issues of them waking up in the middle of the night and staying up.
We weren't sure how all this was going to pan out, but overall, we've been really happy with our decision to transition them into a shared room. They love their new, separate playroom too!
Have you considered letting your kids share a room? How is it working for you?