My girls are 3 and 1, and as of about two months ago, they are room sharing. And it’s been great! But let me tell you, even with great sleepers and even as a sleep consultant, I was NERVOUS!
We live in a two bedroom basement apartment, and although having Avery in our room was working just fine (thank you, SlumberPod!), it had been three years since Jason and I had our own bedroom, so it was time. Everything had been ready to go for a few months already (two cribs in the room), so it was just a matter of actually doing it.
And we’re so thankful we made the switch!
So I’ve come up with eight tips to help your kids successfully share a room, including:
- Making sure your kids are both good sleepers
- How to determine if you should stagger bedtimes or keep them the same
- Waiting before responding if you hear one child wake up
- Having a “back up” plan if it’s an especially tough night
- Using one sound machine for each child
- Using a toddler clock with older kids
- Separating babies and toddlers for naps
- How to prepare your kids for room sharing
Make sure they’re both good sleepers!
If one or both kiddos are still struggling with sleep and you have another option, it’s best to keep them separated until they’re falling asleep independently and sleeping through the night. I wouldn’t want further challenges to emerge as a result of room sharing!
Similarly, if one of your kids is sick, or going through a regression, or you plan to travel soon, it’d be best to wait until you are consistently back to your normal schedule and routine and everyone is healthy!
Same bedtimes or staggered bedtimes
If your kids are in separate age brackets (i.e. baby and toddler, or toddler and school-aged child), it’s helpful to stagger bedtimes by about 15-30 minutes in order to reduce distractions at bedtime. This not only allows one child to fall asleep before the next gets to bed, but it also helps each child get their individual cuddles and quality time with parents before bed.
For us, Olivia goes to bed around 7/7:15 pm and Avery goes to bed around 7:30 pm. Once Avery transitions to one nap, she will likely go to bed before Olivia for a few weeks, and then they’ll eventually go to bed at the same time.
If your children are on similar schedules, it most often makes sense to do bedtime together. Make sure you establish expectations around what it should look like and sound like when the lights go off (i.e. not talking and not getting out of bed).
WAIT to respond
I know this sounds scary, and quite honestly, it is! But if you hear one child stirring or making noise, do not rush in right away. We don’t want to stimulate them and cause a longer wake up, and we also don’t want to move backwards in solid sleep skills and teach our kids that they need us in order to fall back asleep each time they stir in the night.
So try to wait at least 10 minutes, and then from there gauge if it’d be most helpful to respond or to give your child a few more minutes to try to settle.
We have had two nights so far where we’ve had to intervene. One night Avery was having a tough time falling asleep, and after about 30 minutes of on and off crying, she ended up waking Olivia. So Jason responded to Avery with intermittent checks (as we would have done when she was in our room), but then comforted Olivia as she fell back asleep, because it really threw her off!
The other off night is connected to my next tip…
Have a back-up option
Our other rough night Avery woke up around 1 am and just could not get back to sleep, and after about 30 minutes it woke Olivia up. And we absolutely responded! This time Jason helped Avery and I helped Olivia. Avery was having an unusually tough time, so I actually ended up pulling Olivia into our room, thinking it would just be a few minutes but her little self needed a break and could rest with me.
However Avery ended up being awake until about 2:30 am, so Olivia was with me for an hour! Our pack ‘n plays are stored in the girls’ room closet, so I had no option but to hang in my bed with her. She not only did not fall asleep in that time (nor did I, of course) and I think much of that was because it was extra stimulating getting to hang with mom in bed.
So note to self (and you!), keep a pack ‘n play or mattress stored in our room, so if for whatever reason we have a random off night, we can easily have one girl sleep in our room, still in a separate bed, so we can all get better rest.
(End of story: Once Avery fell back asleep, I was able to put Olivia back in her bed and it wasn’t a problem. But that was a loooong hour.)
Have a sound machine for each child
While we’ve had those rough patches, for the most part, Avery crying as she falls asleep or as she stirs in the night, or even wakes in the morning, most often does not wake Olivia. It’s pretty amazing! And Olivia has yet to wake Avery at all.
I think part of this is because Olivia is a great sleeper, but a huge piece of this is that both girls have a sound machine near their beds that provide an extra sound barrier for any disturbances that might come up.
Use a toddler clock
Another piece that’s helped us tremendously is our Hatch Baby Rest!
If one (or both) of your room sharing kids is 2 or older, a toddler clock will be helpful with bedtime and morning boundaries.
Avery generally wakes up around 30 minutes before Olivia, and at first, it always woke Olivia (the downfall of room sharing!). However, because she knows we get her when the light comes on, we were able to snag Avery, I could feed her in peace without extra distractions, and although Olivia didn’t usually fall back asleep, she was still resting in a dark room on her own, which is something!
And now about two months later, Olivia most often sleeps through Avery waking in the morning and we still get her once her clock turns blue.
Naps in separate rooms, nights in the same room
Naps are the hardest part of the sleep puzzle and often take the biggest hit when schedules and environments change, because daytime sleep is just different!
For this reason, if your room sharing kids both still take a nap and there’s an overlap in those nap times, it’s best to give them separate napping spaces. Whether that’s a pack ‘n play set up in your room or a guest room, or a SlumberPod elsewhere in your house, those separate spaces will help both kids continue with solid naps.
When we moved Avery into Olivia’s room, Olivia was no longer napping, but has a quiet time instead. Because I enjoy their quiet time and nap being at the same time, Olivia now does quiet time in our room so Avery can sleep in theirs.
Prepare your kids
This is a big one! Avery was just under 1 when we put the girls together, so there really wasn’t much preparing we could do, except spend intentional time playing in their room to make sure she was more familiar with it!
But I made sure to talk to Olivia quite a bit beforehand, getting her used to the idea that the other crib was Avery’s and she’d soon be sleeping in there, it was “their room” instead of “her room,” and we talked through what to do if she heard Avery cry.
We told her if she hears Avery cry, it’s her job to stay quiet and try to go back to sleep, and trust that mom and dad hear her and see her on the monitor…we’ll take care of her! We even showed her the monitor and showed her how it works so she could see what we saw.
Finally, if either of your kids are in an open bed, make sure you discuss not getting out of bed, not touching each other, not putting anything in their sibling’s bed, etc. Not only is this for sleep but for safety!
While putting your kids in the same room can be a scary thought, it’s also really sweet! Although I’m not excited for the nights the girls just won’t stop talking (I’m sure they’re coming!), I also know they will have such sweet memories of sharing a room.
If the idea of your kids room sharing seems totally out of the question because sleep is still a challenge, SLEEP IS POSSIBLE!
Let’s chat so we can get you there.
p.s. If you’re reading this and are parents of multiples, some of this will be different for you! Stick around for another blog post in a few weeks about sleep training with twins.
p.p.s. If you want to snag a SlumberPod for your family, use the code “GRACES10” for $20 off at checkout!
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