A Purposeful Room: Sibling Roommates

Last night, I was awakened at midnight, 3am, and now 6am by cries from a tiny person just down the hallway. Nurse, rock, place in crib. Repeat. Every 3 hours. She's now 8 months old, but it almost feels like we've started over in the newborn phase. Having previously slept through the night, teething and growth spurts have now thrown us off schedule, and the sleep regression is real.

We've made another huge change that also affects our nights... we've officially moved the sisters into a room together!



This was a big milestone for both of our girls this past month, as our toddler has never known anything different than having her own room, and our baby has only known life sleeping a few feet away from me. But soon after the she turned 7 months old, we knew it was time for the roommate situation to change, and so we did the thing. Some people thought we were crazy. Many friends and even family watched with hesitation as I proudly announced that we were moving our 7 month old and two year old into a room together. Yet, still we knew this was the right thing for our family.

So, last night, when I hurried to their room each time the cries grew loud enough to awaken me from down the hall, I looked over at the toddler, who sleeps just across the room from the crib, in her big girl bed... and each time she was SOUND. ASLEEP. How is this possible?! Kids are extremely resilient.

Many, many places around the world, children share a room together - and yet in our first world culture and modern society, it is fairly standard for each child to have their own room.  But what we've found, is that children are extremely adaptable, and they thrive where they are placed, as long as they feel safe and loved.

There is nothing quite like siblings sharing a room. Yes, we have challenges some nights, arranging bedtimes since they're not on quite the same schedule, and nap times can be tricky. But this move has also uncovered a very special bond that continues to grow between the two of them.


Just the other morning, I heard sweet giggles coming from the girls' room. I tiptoed down the hall and stood in the doorway, hoping to catch a glimpse of the moment without being noticed. The sight before me was one I will always treasure.  Big Sister had climbed into the crib and gathered her favorite baby books from a nearby shelf. Both girls were  laying on their stomachs, like two little teenagers hanging out, reading books together.



I have a feeling that it won't be the last time I peek into this room and am overwhelmed with gratefulness for the sweet bond that the two girls share.  I'm also sure there will be many more long, sleepless nights ahead, sibling disputes over bedroom territory, and other challenges along the way. But more than anything, I have a feeling that sharing a bedroom will be one of their favorite early childhood memories.

Sweetest dreams,
L


***Though we are only a month into this arrangement and surely have many more lessons to learn, here are some helpful things we've learned so far. This may be valuable for anyone else who's considering this arrangement:

1. Kids don't need as much space as you might think. Especially when they are little, each one does not need their own closet and dresser. Each of our girls have 2 drawers in the 6-drawer dresser, and each have their own half of the closet. We have a bookshelf, toy box, and a small kid table with 2 chairs in their not-so-large room. And yet, there is plenty of room to spare.

2. You don't necessarily need to change up bedtime routines to get the kids on the same schedule. For us, the baby goes to sleep much earlier and quicker than the toddler. So, we put her to bed at her normal time, in the quiet, dark room. Then, we rock and read with the toddler in another room when it's time for her to wind down. She then goes to bed at her normal time, and the baby is already asleep.

3. Consistency is key. While our two girls don't have all of the same routines, they each know their own. The toddler knows that her baby sister will always be sleeping in her crib when it's time for her own bedtime. We've made a game out of tiptoeing into the quiet room so that her baby sister doesn't even notice. We've established boundaries, so that the toddler knows when she can and can't get out of bed, and she sticks to them... for the most part ; )

4. Sound machines are a wonderful invention. Both of our girls have enjoyed sound machines as part of their bedtime since they were newborns. But even now, we realize more than ever the value of some calming background noise. It allows us (the parents) to feel like we can talk, watch movies, and walk around the house after the kids' bedtime, without feeling like we will wake them up. Also, the sound machine helps minimize the sleep interruption of one child hearing another toss and turn in bed, make sleep sounds, etc.

If your children also share a room, what things have you learned? 



Comments

  1. My girls will soon share a room, and Matt will eventually share a room too. You're right people seem to think they will need their own room, but how will they know any different. I'm excited for the bond my girls will have!

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