Six months ago we moved our girls (8 months old & 2.5 years) into the same room. Since then I hear this question a lot, "Becca, what tips do you have for helping my kids share a room?"
I know it can be a scary idea! So to alleviate some of the stress, I've got you covered with a quick and easy guide to help you make room sharing a success!
1. Find the right timing
Two in a room is not gloom. Be sure to have two good sleepers before making this change. A child who still wakes through the night could disrupt the child who has healthy sleep, and this could cause a regression. Parents tend to be hypersensitive to the slightest sounds that might have both children awake and disrupted simultaneously, and responding can cause unhealthy sleep habits.
Under the same roof. Life will never be perfect, but make sure the whole family is ready for the transition. Are you about to go out of town soon? Is anyone sick? Developmental regressions? Make this change at the right time for your family, and remember you don’t have to figure it out alone!
Talk about the big day before the big day. Take care not to make this a surprise, or you will be in for a surprise! Talk about the new bedtime routine during days leading up to the move and discuss how both siblings will be sleeping in the same room together. Just three days prep is enough to clue your children into the new changes coming their way!
Make it fun! Have the older child clean up the room, make a welcome sign, and help set up the little one’s bed. Start using sharing words like ours and we instead of me and mine.
Moving Day. On the day you move them, talk about how bedtime might be a little different now, and get them involved! Here is what our family does now that our girls are room sharing:
6:30 PM Bath together
6:40 PM Dry off, pj’s on, brush hair and teeth
6:50 PM Read books together.
(They may pick their own, or choose one for each other.)
7:00 PM Kisses to everyone, lights off!
Tip: To replace the extra snuggle time you had with each child independently, spend extra time having fun in the bath and reading books.
3. Don’t Give Up
Be patient. Room sharing is going to take some time to get used to, just like any sleep change. Continue to communicate with your children what your sleep expectations are, what the new bedtime routine is, and how great they are doing sharing a room together.
Common issues. It can be normal to experience a honeymoon period for a few nights or even a week. Remember, they have never shared a room together in their life!
If the older child starts acting out or rebelling against the new routine, intentionally spend 10-15 extra minutes of one-on-one time with this child. Negative behavior can be a need for attention. Understand that this is an adjustment, give them some extra love and talk with them about how they feel along the way.
Tip:Even if it was a rough night in the beginning, make a big deal when it’s morning! Praise them and let them know how proud you are of them!
There you go! May your room sharing success be sweet and their dreams be long!
Your Pediatric Sleep Consultant