Living in San Francisco, space is definitely a hard commodity to come by. Our first apartment was maybe 900 square feet, but it was charming, and by far my favorite space that Michael and I have shared together. We were newlyweds in this apartment, sharing wine on the city view rooftop that Michael decorated with white twinkle lights. Many of my favorite pre-parenthood memories were in this home, enjoying food, wine, and conversation with family and friends. This apartment was home to our first-born, and was the only place that I’ve ever cried about when we left. Once we became pregnant with baby #2 we knew that we couldn’t possibly have both children sleeping in the dinning room/converted nursery. That being said, I’m not kidding when I say that it crossed my mind to have both kids sleep in the converted dinning room. Clearly, I was hormonal and pregnant because it was time to leave this fabulous place.
Fast forward to now, and we live in a much larger three bedroom space that I’m grateful for. When Jack was born, he slept in our room the first two months. Our initial plan was to have our kids share a room, but Jack was a light sleeper, and we had moved to a noisier part of San Francisco. We decided it would be better to have him sleep downstairs in the guest room where it would be quieter. At some point, we would move him upstairs into Audrey’s room. Well..we finally made the move! Holy heck am I CRAZY to do this now? It was always colder downstairs, and we wanted to free up our guest room, since it’s used so frequently, so I was ready for the challenge.
At first, the kids were jumping up and down and loving the interaction. Jack was pumped to have a buddy to talk with, and he wanted to keep the party going, but Audrey was ready to sleep. I swear this is a precursor for their teenage years, because Audrey is disciplined and wants her sleep, and Jack is ready to rage at all times..grrrrrreat! Anyhow, Audrey brilliantly decided to sing Jack a lullaby, it went something like this..
“Jack, go to bed, you’re hurting my ears, nighty night…nighty night. Jack, go to bed, Mom and Dad want to watch a show, and you’re hurting my ears…nighty night…nighty night. Jack shhhh..Jack shhh..Mickey can’t sleep!”
Mike and I were watching everything on the video cam and having ourselves a crack up over these shenanigans. After a bit, Jack would finally lay down, but Audrey decided she was very proud of her new song, and would start singing all over again which prompted Jack to pop back up. Jack was also proud that he could turn the light switch on and off (which I didn’t realize he was doing for a bit). So the circus cycle of up and down began. Once they finally fell asleep, it was good for about 3 hours, but that was short-lived! Jack woke every 2-3 hours yelling. As any mother, my ears are trained to hear a pin drop, so as soon as I heard screaming, I was sprinting down our hallway desperately trying to avoid running into the wall because I couldn’t see anything. Apparently, turning on the light wasn’t something that crossed my mind in the middle of the night. Obviously, Jack couldn’t tell me why he woke up yelling, but I’m assuming that it’s because he didn’t know where he was, and that he was exposed to more street noise being upstairs. What I feared the most was having him wake Audrey, which would’ve meant I’d be in a room with two screaming and exhausted toddlers in the middle of the night..which means I would have wanted to jump out the window or hide in the closet cursing at myself for thinking this was a good idea!
Luckily, Audrey can sleep through a freight train, and never woke to his screaming. Phew, crisis averted! After being up and down with Jack the first night, I reminded myself, over a strong cup of coffee, that “giving in” was not an option. Thankfully, I stuck it out, because we are one week into the transition and its going great. It took a few nights, but it’s paying off now. Toddlers sharing a room has it’s pros and cons, so it’s not for everyone, especially if you don’t need to. That being said, many situations require kids to share rooms so I say embrace it, and prepare yourself for the transition and a few sleepless nights (as if that’s not already happening for any mom with young kids).
- The kids are on the same bedtime routine now.
- They love going to bed together, and often talk for a minute or two, which is sweet to watch on the video cam. Similarly, they love getting in each other’s bed in the morning and being silly (like pic above).
- Audrey now sees her room as more of a “shared space”, which is good for her since we are still battling “sharing” at our house.
- Most importantly, I think it’s a good way to capitalize on strengthening the bond between siblings. They are a TEAM now!
- Because they are now a TEAM, it’s double the trouble when they decide to fight bedtime.
- Be prepared for different wake up times. Jack has always been an early riser and has no “wake up” period. From the moment he opens his eyes he is already at level 10 craziness, so I have to rush getting him.
- If a child is sick, then the other child hears the coughing or moving around.
- As they get older it’s probably better for them to have separate spaces (especially siblings of opposite sex).
Tips for Transitioning Toddlers
- Use a noise machine if you aren’t already, it cancels out so much
- Transition when they are almost on the same sleep schedule. If not on the same sleep schedule then put the youngest down first, and explain to the older child that he/she gets to stay up a little later, but must be very quiet when going to bed. You can use a reward system here if needed.
- If they are playing and talking past bedtime, let it go. So, they may be up 30 minutes past their bedtime, it’s fine. You don’t want to create the habit of needing to go in and quiet them down. They need to learn this on their own. By the end of the week the novelty wore off for our kids, and they only jumped around for 5 minutes.
- Just as sleep training if you find that after several nights it’s just not working, give it a break, and try again in a month or two. Unless, they have to be in the same room, then I’d put one child down first, and quietly slip the other in later.
If this is going to happen in your world soon, good luck! I promise transitioning toddlers to sharing a room isn’t all that bad and the rewards are far greater. So far…