The Shared Bedroom

On Sunday, June 8th, we started the transition of moving Harvey out of our room (where he generally slept in the co-sleeper and/or our bed) and moved him instead to his crib to start the night. He was just 4 days shy of 5 months old, so it’s not exactly noteworthy to most people, except for one thing – he and his big sister were going to share a room. Most people thought we were nuts.IMG_4702

Harvey & Stella are are 25 months apart in age, and we live in a tiny 3 bedroom house. The 3rd bedroom is currently a guest room / office – and quite honestly, we would like to keep it that way as long as possible. Charlie has a quiet space to get away and work on bids for jobs, and guests have a place to unpack their bags and settle in during extended visits. I shared a room with various siblings until around age 11, so I figured if I could do it, my kids could too!

But how were we going to implement this? Won’t the kids wake each other up? How is anybody going to get any sleep?

Lesson #1 – Kids sleep with Dad ears, not Mom ears.

I mean this in the kindest way possible, but at least in my house, I’m attuned to every noise the kids make – my husband is not. Stella has a nightmare? Harvey needs to nurse? Check and check. I handle it. In the morning, my husband will generally say something like, “Wow, how awesome is it that the kids slept through the night last night?”

#DOH

Honestly – Stella can come out of their room 15x in that first hour while stalling bedtime, and Harvey can wake up crying wanting to nurse in the middle of the night, and 9 times out of 10, they do not wake each other up. It’s amazing. In the beginning they did a little more often, but here we are almost 6 months into the shared-room adventure, and they are so used to each other’s noises that it takes a LOT to wake up the other.

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In the beginning, we laid both kids down awake around 8pm. This worked well for a few reasons:

  • It was summer, nights were long, the sun was up late.
  • Harvey was young enough he was still taking a 3rd nap in the late afternoon for 30-60 minutes, so he had the stamina to stay up a little later.
  • Instead of waking each other up, the kids would “talk” each other to sleep since we laid them both down awake at the same time (after bath, nursing [for Harv], books, & prayers). Within 10-15 minutes maximum, they’d both be asleep.

Back then, Harvey would usually do one 4 hour stretch in the crib, and then when he woke to nurse around 12-1, I’d pull him into my bed to nurse, and he would either sleep in the co-sleeper or in our bed until morning because he’d often nurse every couple of hours after that. I love me some baby snuggles.

After a month or so, I started to put him back to sleep in his crib because I was hoping without the scent of my milk nearby, he’d learn to sleep through the night by the first week of August when I left him with my parents for 4 days. He did pretty well, and for a few months he pretty consistently woke only once around 4-5am to nurse & sometimes slept from 8pm-7am without a wake-up. Then we hit teething and daylight savings time and he dropped the 3rd nap and yeah… shit hit the fan.

Lesson #2 – Consistency is Important with Kids’ Sleep Routines, but Don’t Be Afraid to Switch it Up when Necessary

Once the days got short (i.e. it was dark early), DST happened, and Harv dropped his 3rd nap, things had to change. He was a wreck if we waited until 8pm to put him down, so now after dinner (and sometimes bath – we rarely bathe our kids – please say we’re not the only ones!) we get PJs on the kids and read a couple of books on the floor in their room, and then Stella goes downstairs with Charlie while I nurse Harvey and put him down at 7pm. He is generally out like a light within a couple of minutes. Stella still likes to stay up a bit later, so we’ve been letting her have special Mommy/Daddy time from 7-8 now to try to combat the 8 million stalling excuses that happen at bedtime lately. Sometimes it seems to be helping, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s frustrating as hell when we put her to bed around 8pm and she comes out a million and one times to (1) pee (2) poop (3) get a drink of water (4) tell us something (5) try to sleep in our bed (6) ask to be tucked in again, etc etc etc. We are seriously looking at getting a hook & eye latch to lock the pocket door closed. On the up side – Harvey sleeps through all of it!

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Lesson #3 – They get used to each other’s noises, and white noise helps a lot.

In their room we have a LOUD humidifier that we turn on the highest level and let run all night. It helps moisturize the air (awesome in dry, high desert Colorado) and it gives a nice, constant background white noise that helps drown out each other’s noises and helps them to sleep better. I think it helped us out a lot that we moved Harvey prior to the separation anxiety stage that tends to hit around 6-8 months. He was already used to sleeping in that room with his sister, and they both got used to each other’s noises really easily. The one time this does NOT hold true is anytime after 5am.

Lesson #4 – You’ll probably get less sleep in the morning if your kids share a room.

Maybe this isn’t true for everyone, but for us, the kids slept in much later when they did NOT share a room. If Harvey wakes prior to 5am to nurse, I can go in, rock in the glider & nurse him, and put him back down. Stella will sleep through it, and they’ll often sleep until 6:30-7:00. If Harvey wakes at 5am or later to nurse, we are screwed. Stella is close enough to waking up that she hears him fussing & wakes up herself, it is close enough to morning that Harvey is generally up for the day, and then I’m a zombie at 5:30am, stumbling around getting ready for work with two wide awake children following me around. Those mornings kinda suck. However, they usually LOVE chatting in the morning and hanging out.IMG_4494

Lesson #5 – It’s really awesome to watch the relationship between your kids grow when they share a room.

I can’t even count the number of mornings that Stella has crawled into Harvey’s crib, and by the time I walk in to get them up for the day, they’re laughing, jumping up & down, and just enjoying each other’s company. Back when we put them to sleep at the same time, it was also music to my ears to listen to them talk each other to sleep. I truly think that sharing a room will help them become closer as siblings. I have very fond memories of talking in the dark room with my siblings while we were growing up, and I hope the same for them!

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*****

So what’s the end goal?

For now, our hope is to keep them in their crib & toddler bed for another year or two. At that point we will probably invest in bunkbeds. We are thinking either standard twin bunks with a twin trundle underneath the bottom bunk for sleepovers, or perhaps the twin/queen style bunks. It probably mostly depends on what I can find for cheap on Craig’s List. 🙂 I’m sure there will come a day that they don’t want to share a room, but we are keeping our fingers crossed that we have another 5-10 years before we are forced to give up our guest room / office space!

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So how about you?

Did you share a room while growing up? Do your kids share a room? Do you have any tips for people who are considering trying this? Did you try it and it was an epic fail? (for us, naps are epic fail in the shared bedroom, so Harvey naps in a pack’n’play in the guest room and Stella naps in their bedroom)

 

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19 comments

  1. First, I have to admit that we rarely bathe our kid either. She has dry skin! (It’s true.) And also, it’s just hard. She hates the bath, we run out of time before bedtime in the evening, etc. etc!
    I did not share a room with my sister but we lived in an old farmhouse where you walk upstairs and are in my sister’s room and walk through her room to get to mine. So we had some late night giggles and secret rehearsing Christmas songs for a surprise performance for my parents and all that fun stuff 🙂

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  2. GAH! Those are cute kids.

    Not much to offer on room sharing, but glad it is going mostly well. As for locks, well, you know how I feel about that! I *really* didn’t want to do it, but after trying ALL THE THINGS I couldn’t deal with the 30+ room escapes per night. Now he doesn’t even try it. Night training will have to wait. At this point, ME sleeping through the night is the goal! 😉

    And, uh, I generally only figure it’s bath time when I can’t remember the last time they had a bath. Seems legit.

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  3. What time are Harvey’s naps now?

    As for Stella, you can try the Sleep Fairy (there’s a storybook but you don’t need it and I think it’s WAAAAYY too long for it’s intended age group). She leaves a little gift under their pillow if they stay in there bed at night. And by little, we went VERY little, like 5 animal crackers or three Skittles or something. It worked for a couple weeks until it didn’t work anymore, lost it’s luster for her I guess, idk. But it might set Stella back on track. I’ve thought of starting it for Lyla, but then we’d obv have to start it back for Gracie, too. Anyway, Gracie did stop with the nightly, TWO-HOUR crazy-fest when she stopped napping at about 3 1/4. So you’re a lot closer to that point with S than we were in the beginning.

    All in all, it sounds like the perfect fit for you guys! Congratulations 🙂

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    1. Oh yeah and baths? We bathe A LOT in this house. Have you met my oldest child? OK, no you haven’t, but I’m sure you can imagine, they are not optional all the majority of days with her. And once you’re bathing her, you might as well bathe Lyla since they go in together. Poppy, though, pretty much never :/

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  4. Our sons–almost-3-year-old twins–share a room, too. They have from day one and will for the foreseeable future (as in, until/unless we have the means to buy a house with one more bedroom).

    Our results have been slightly different from yours–for one thing, one of my sons is a VERY light sleeper, so if his brother cries or wakes for ANY reason, he is also awake and up–but overall, it works out fine. We have honestly never given serious thought to splitting them up.

    Oh, and I hear ya on the baths: we only bathe three times a week. They just don’t get dirty or sweaty enough to need daily bathing at their age, most of the time! (Plus, I will confess, I do NOT enjoy bath time.)

    My sister–25 months younger than me–and I shared a bedroom until I was 15, and it did not scar me for life. I think it will be fine. 🙂

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  5. We bathe our 3 kids every night! Sometimes on Fridays they skip baths and take a shower saturday morning.

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  6. Thank you for writing this post- it helped a lot ease my anxiety about having kids share a room someday- you actually have made it sound really appealing. My kids get baths 4 nights a week when G’s nurse is here- she showers them both at the same time for me. It’s great. The other 3 nights- forget it!

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  7. I’m planning to move my girls in a room together within the next 6 months. And they’ll likely share a room as long as we’re in this house (a very long time). Also, we probably only bathe the kids 1-2 times/week, especially in the winter months. 🙂

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  8. Awwww, glad that is going well! I love hearing Avery talk herself to sleep, so I can only imagine how cute it is to hear two of them talking to each other!
    I only had brothers and since I was the only girl, I never did share a bedroom. However my two youngest brothers had to, as there were five kids and let’s be honest, no one has a house with 6 bedrooms (well, no one I know)!
    Also, thanks for saying something about the baths, my mom was nagging me about that earlier this week and I was starting to wonder if I was wrong in giving Avery baths only 3-4 times a week. 4 in the summer and 3 in the winter. She has super dry skin and fights going into the bath (though she loves it once she is in there).

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    1. Ha, we maybe do 3 in the summer and 2 in the winter – maybe! Both kids have super dry skin here in CO as well… plus I guess we’re lazy about it?

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  9. I always shared a room with siblings. My kids always shared a room. At the age your kids are, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting them accustomed to it.

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  10. LOL, love the “dad ears”….we don’t have kids yet but I know exactly what you mean by that!! I love that they’re sharing a room, it seems like they have such a wonderful sibling relationship already. The pictures are just adorable. You go girl!

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  11. Thanks for this explaining about the room sharing – looks like we found a place with 3 bedrooms so we will be missing this stage. S gets 1 bath a week if he’s lucky and Freya is bathed like once a month. Shocking but true.

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    1. Harv got 1 bath a month until we started BLW. Now he’s probably 2x/wk, just b/c we throw him in with Stella when they’re both getting disgusting. 🙂

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  12. I love this post and if, GIANT IF, we have a third kid, the girls will share a room because I don’t want to give up our guest room either! Plus, it’s downstairs and the other bedrooms are upstairs and I’m not willing to be that far from any of my kids. So if we ever get there, it’s good to know that it can work!

    Also, Sofia is in the stage where she HATES bathing so we don’t bathe her every night either. Plus, they both have my dry skin so that’s just one more reason that I don’t feel the need to do it! You’re definitely not alone there!

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  13. […] moved our kids into a shared bedroom – and we pretty much love it! […]

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  14. […] a year and a half ago I wrote about our decision to have Harvey & Stella share a bedroom. So far I’d say our 5 main takeaways have held […]

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  15. We just moved into a 3-bedroom house—my husband works from home, so the one bedroom is his office. We are at least 10 months away from (possibly) meeting a second baby (FET will be later this month) but I have been wondering about a baby sharing a room with a toddler. I’m so pleased to know it can be done!

    I also love the queen-sized bunk beds (a much more recent post), such a good idea!

    And how cute is Stella with her baby carrier? Eee!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We really do love the shared bedroom the majority of the time!

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