tips for transitioning kids into sharing a room

14 March 2016

As kind of an addendum to Thursday's post ... I've gotten a couple of emails (a couple - as in two - as in who really cares how we do) asking how we transition kids into sharing a room and while I'll never (ever E-V-E-R) be an expert on anything in the parenting realm ... here are a few things that have helped make the switch a little bit easier on everyone involved. Emphasis on the parents.


No, I have not suddenly morphed into the world's worst mathematician (that is only one child in a room littering a post about two childs sharing a room ... we'll just call this the: before!)

Anyway ... here we go.

1. stagger bedtimes the first night we put Julia and Sebastian in the same room together we put them down, closed the door, and were stupidly shocked and frustrated to find that they didn't just drift off to sleep. No, they immediately got out of bed and went to work so that when I went to check on them a few minutes later I walked into something akin to this  ...


different house, different room ... same exact tornado whiplash.

I didn't mind the mess as much as the fact that they did not actually fall asleep for many, many hours which was fine until the next morning when they woke up in badittude mode that spanned the majority of their sleep-deprived day. We quickly realized that it was best to put one kid down, wait until they fell asleep, and then put the other down soon after.

For example with our current setup (girls sharing and boys sharing): Julia goes down earlier than all the other kids because she doesn't nap and she's usually up first to get ready for school. I put her down with the light dimmed because she doesn't like the dark, and about 20-30 minutes later we put Phoebe down with the light all the way off because Phoebe doesn't mind the dark and I don't even think she realized Julia is in the bed next to her. Same goes for Sebastian and Theo because Sebastian usually doesn't nap but on the days he does (2-3x a week) ... we let them play with blocks/trains/legos in their room for 15-20 minutes before "lights out" and by some bizarre miracle they generally obey. The Julia and Sebastian of yesteryear would have never ever.

2. sound machine I could probably rename the blog: sound machine addicts not-so-anonymous because I blog about them a lot because they are almost like extended members of our family. We use these but I know there are bigger and better machines out there. I just like how portable, reliable, and inexpensive they are in the event that they get forgotten on a trip or lost in a move. Not that we've ever done either. Ever.

3. nightlight A new thing around here as the older kids have started to express that they're afraid of the dark to which I can say: nothing because if Simon isn't home I generally sleep with ALL the lights on. Nightlight your hearts out, like-minded offspring. The boys use this one but sometimes like to keep the lamp on until they fall asleep. In the spirit of end-of-the-day battle picking ... I let them.

caveats ...

Of course there will come a night when someone wakes up crying about the upper left quadrant of their right knee cap aching and it just might wake their roommate up but I've found that over time and actually pretty quickly ... the roomie learns to just sleep through the melodrama. Sebastian was thee lightest sleeper in the history of light sleepers as a baby but he now sleeps through Theo's insanely early wake-ups and occasional SOS cries for ... a sip of water. With ice.

I don't have kids nap in the same room. I'd rather let someone nap in our room than risk a double nap cut tragically short because someone woke someone else up etc.


Another misleading snap because these two most definitely do not share a room. As much as Phoebully would love that. 

Our old house had blackout shades already installed and helped my resident roosters "sleep in" to a more godly hour than they'd like but our new house doesn't and Theo is always quick to tell me when he can see the tiniest sliver of sun. A lot of people have sworn by the toddler clock ... I just need to bite the bullet and try it too.

I'm sure many, many people have gotten toddlers and babies (twins do it all the time, I know!) and tiny dancers to share a room no problem to which I say ... you're the bomb emoji. Everything has to be a process around here, I suppose.

I welcome your other and better strategies! And Happy (Bachelor Finale!) Monday!

One more ! for good and excited measure.

26 comments:

  1. My 5 and 4 year olds share a room. It is a nightmare every. single. night. Complete chaos and no sleep for HOURS every night. I may have to try this staggering of bed-time to save my sanity. It is probably LONG gone though.

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    1. Ah! That's how it was with Julia and Sebastian ... maybe it's a close-in-age thing? I'm so sorry!

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    2. That could be it! My older two are 14 months apart. I've been eyeballing The Goodnight Lite on Amazon for a while, but it's always out of stock. That must mean it works, right?! ha!

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  2. If it makes you feel any better, I have not gotten my twins to share a room except at night time, and we do staggered bedtimes too. I am terrified to try and get them to nap together. Terrified.

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    1. It's not even worth it... I spent so long getting my twins to nap together in the same room and within weeks one of them started climbing out of the crib, so we were back to separate rooms! Staggered bedtimes are key, I totally agree... And they really do sleep like rocks through any melodrama!

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    2. We have a twin sleeping in the extra bathroom right now just because it was getting soooooo daaaaaaang aaaaaawful every single night. The other four kids share rooms just fine, what is wrong with my twins!? Wombmates, my patootie... :D

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  3. I have twins and they were fine going to bed til they turned 5ish. Then it was chatter chatter chatter from the one who kept his sister up, so we split them. Best thing ever. They both just pop off to sleep. But when they were together, staggered bedtimes worked wonders (the girl falls asleep super quick so she went first).

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  4. The toddler clock--I couldn't bring myself to pop forty bucks for something that probably maybe might not work for my kiddos, so instead we got a cheap flower wall light from Ikea, and we hook it to a travel timer. It took a little training, but now my kiddos don't get out of bed until they see that their light is on. So awesome, so cheap!

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    1. Can you explain more about how you did this? Did you add a light to it? Was the light already on it? I love the idea, and would like to know how to recreate it.

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    2. Gillian, that's brilliant! I wish we had thought of that before we spent the $40. :D (Fortunately, the $40-version still worked!)
      Ashley - Gillian will have to correct me if I'm wrong - but I believe what she describes is plugging in the (already turned on) light to something like this: http://www.lowes.com/pd_224879-66906-UTTNI2423_1z0vgbk__?productId=4740882&pl=1
      And then the outlet itself switches the light on/off based on the times you've set.

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  5. There are many "okay-to-wake" apps, so we got one for $2 and installed in on an old iPhone we had lying around. That's now become his "clock." We also have a white noise app installed, but they can't work simultaneously. White noise for falling asleep, click set later for morning wake up. For the most part he obeys the clock ;)

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  6. Thanks for the advice! Can you do a post on tips for transitioning a toddler from a crib to a toddler bed or open crib (like with one of the sides taken off)? Would love any advice you have!

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  7. Ohhhhh sound machines. We use an app on the kid's iPads (gifted by their grandparents of course) and they are a life saver!! And each kid either has two night lights orrr twinkle lights set up in regards to darkness fears. When we go on vacation and have five in one room we stagger bedtimes which is the only way. Our last trip my eldest vomited ON the bunk my middle son was sleeping in and he DID NOT wake. It was horrific. But I mean. Awesome. Lol.

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  8. Oh, I missed these posts while you were on hiatus (I'm still a newbie parent and I love reading what has worked for other people as we try to find our way!) - I'm need to remember this for when we have two but right now I struggle with getting one kid down to sleep a lot of nights!

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  9. I'm a new parent (only 1 10 month old) but from the day he was born I loved sound machines, he had a sleep sheep which we took everywhere and a sleep turtle for his room- needless to say the kid loves ocean sounds and the actual beach puts him in a zen zone.. he doesn't need them so much now (also the battery is dead and lazy parents don't change batteries) BUT James Taylor seems to work fine too and if I let him hold a golf ball- good and desperate parenting for the win!

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  10. These are all awesome tips! We've been thinking about having our kids share a room so we can have the third bedroom be a guestroom/office. We'll have to keep these things in mind when we make the transition!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

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  11. We have our 3 and 4 year old share and an 11 month old with his own room. I like to keep them separate until they are reliably sleeping through the night and wake up around the same time. For us that's around a year old. We did staggered bedtimes at first but now it's a merry tromp off to the bedroom together. They both nap together too and we don't usually have any issues except when someone feels particularly ornery. It's almost time to move the baby in with them but I'm not sure what will happen. All I know is that when we did it the first time it wasn't as bad as I expected. Also, we have a toddler clock. Mostly works. Travel timer + nightlight would be just as effective I think.

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  12. Would LOVE to know what advice/books you use for baby sleep. How do baby naps fit in with 4 older siblings?!

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  13. This is what we do. I only have two but we stagger their bed times and if one is napping in their room the other can nap in Mom and Dad's bed which is like a big reward so they happily comply.

    www.shhmommysdrinking.com

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  14. our two share a room and love it so much that they literally canNOT go to sleep if the other one isn't in there. (sickness or something) so bed time together they go. allowed to talk and sing (with lights out) for about 15/20 minutes and then it's quiet and good night time. the wake up clock on Amazon that has a light that turns green is perfect. :) it works. and yes to sound machines. always. life savers.

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  15. I think I am going to have stager naps times, this is good to hear. We do bedtime the same with no trouble for the 2 1/2 year old and 9 month old but naps have turned into a nightmare recently. It is stubbornness on my part as I am desperate to have them sleep at the same time. I was about to throw up the package n'play in my room, but will give a slight staggering a try.

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  16. Crazy! We just embarked on this adventure this week. Tragically, my seven-month-old forgot how to sleep more than two hours at a time. I have no idea what happened! #exhausted thanks for the tips!

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  17. The clock saved us last summer when the kids started getting up with the sun.. I think when it got to the 5:00 hour we finally pulled the trigger. At least now they stay in their room (the big girls share) until their clock turns green.

    Does Theo sleep well at night? Sophie still naps but she's the worst about staying in bed at night. I'm trying to figure out the balance of still needing that afternoon siesta but getting her to GO TO SLEEP at a reasonable time at night.

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  18. Noise machines. Best. Invention. Ever.

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  19. Thanks for this post! We’re putting ours in their own room this weekend and in my mind it was going to be so easy! Now I’m prepared! =]

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  20. LOVED reading this. We're about to have boy/girl twins who will share a room until it kills me. Can't wait to see how this goes...

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