LJ and Max share a room and so do Will and Weston. We constantly get asked how we make this happen….and the answer is fairly simple….we don’t give them any other choice 🙂
Sharing a room is something that most people do at some point in their lives and we personally believe that it’s a really helpful skill to learn! I actually shared a room with my sister growing up and it provided a wealth of laughable memories. Granted….it wasn’t always easy….I distinctly remember taking masking tape and dividing the room in half. We even split the ceiling fan 🙂 And yes, sometimes those canopy beds looked less beautiful bedroom and more brutal battlefield….although my sister often won as she was loads tougher and never afraid to throw a punch. #beastmodelori
But battles aside, it helped me later in life….learning personal space and respecting other people’s possessions, being able to sleep under a variety of conditions, and how to compromise. And since it is a super-popular question, I thought I would explain some tips on how we transition from the stage where we have a baby in the parent’s room or nursery to sharing a room with a sibling.
TIP #1 – Transition the kids, transition the space
When our big boys transitioned to sharing a room they were a little older compared to the ages that we started Max & LJ….also, it went from being Will’s room to being BOTH their rooms….so we felt like the most appropriate way to handle the new arrangement was with a completely new look in the room….as in, we redecorated. This made it feel different to both boys and even though I made the majority of decoration decisions (rug, bedding, curtains, furniture), the boys got to say what they wanted on the walls. This way the kids can get excited about a new room and BOTH children are being introduced into a new space vs one kid being a host.
TIP #2 – Give kids individual spaces within the room
Each of our kids gets their own beds, their own drawers, even their own shelves on the bookshelf. They get to choose what art is on their wall and get to put whatever animal or pillow or whatever on their bed. I think that making this single space contain individual spaces is really important to teach that they have freedom in this room but also need to remember its not all theirs so they need to respect their roommate. Nana also gave the boys ‘treasure boxes’ which are wooden boxes with lids that are where the boys can put their individual keepsakes that they don’t want out. This gives them a special spot to stash little prizes, notes or presents for the other roommate and teaches the kids privacy.
TIP #3 – Create the same conditions
When sharing a room, opinions play a strong role. Temperature, light, noise, even side of the room….it all is of life-changing importance to these little personalities and it all is a matter of opinion. We decided early on that all our kids would sleep with the same noise maker….it blocks out our binge-watching Stranger Things 2….and that even when we travel, we bring it with us. All the kids have the same night light….as well as each kid having their own lovie. Creating all the same sleep conditions makes traveling easier and it also makes it a breeze when we transition from room to room as ALL of those things easily move.
TIP #4 – Get the toys out
Our bedrooms are treated as sleeping spaces. The boys don’t play in their rooms because we took all the toys out. We are really lucky to have a play space downstairs so obviously this can’t work for everyone but it works for us. I think it was very helpful in transitioning the kids to sharing a room because there isn’t a Spiderman plush or a Matchbox car for them to play with or fight over….they are in there to SLEEP. This simple task of getting the toys out is another step in making this zone more relaxing.
TIP #5 – Create a routine
For all our little boys, we do the same routine. After the bath, we get jammies on and change diapers/put on pull ups. The kids brush their teeth and we let LJ and Max pick out a book. Then we prep the room (turn on fans, sound machines, dim lights, turn on night lights) and sit down with the kids in our lap. We read each of the books and then sing slow songs (like twinkle twinkle or their name songs). Finally we say prayers before carrying them to bed. When we lay them down, we pull their blankets up but all touching stops at that point. We realized that any touching the kid is just more stimulation….that we DON’T want them getting used to us comforting them with touch….that we want them to find comfort in their lovies. This routine usually works because it is the same routine we did before they slept together. We also say the same thing….”It’s time to go to sleep.” This is what we call the ‘cue words’. This cues them into exactly what they are supposed to do.
TIP #6 – Be attentive
There are always times of sleep regression, sick nights or just plain restlessness. It’s gonna happen when one kid is asleep and the other one decides it’s a great time to scream at the top of their lungs. We feel like it’s important to always be attentive….not because they share a room and can ruin the other kids sleep….but because they are children who need security in your presence. We always go in….we don’t let them cry it out alone. When we go into the room, we do not turn on the light (there is plenty of visibility with a nightlight and our phones) but first evaluate the situation (some are special situations but most are just a kid wanting their own way so that’s what I’m talking about here….you as a parent should know the difference) and then place our hand on their back or tummy and say “It’s ok. It’s time to go to sleep.” We don’t pick up, we don’t take them out of the crib. Then we sit in the room and usually scroll Instagram. 99% of the time, they stop crying when we go into the room and lay back down. That other 1% of the time, they are testing us. Our policy is to stay calm and consistent. I say that like it’s easy….it’s not. But it’s key. They sometimes cry a little longer….but remember, I already evaluated to ensure they aren’t sick or hurt…usually they are just being willful. Of course, all parents are different. You get to decide what level of comfort to provide your kids….we do the hand on and single sentence and presence. You can do more but remember that you are creating a routine and changing that routine can be stimulating or upsetting to the kid.
If our kid is sick, we react completely differently because it’s a completely different situation. If a child threw up or messed the bed, we remove them from the bed and take them to the bathroom to clean them up. The other parent is on ‘bed duty’….pulling the extra crib mattress out from under our bed and making a spot for them to sleep in our room and cleaning up the dirty bedding. Then we do the entire routine again for them to go to sleep in their new floor bed.
We aren’t experts at this but we have found that consistency and comfort are two main components of our sleep situation. It may not be easy (we definitely aren’t drop em and go!) but it’s something that we have chosen to do and the boys all seem to like the setup. Honestly the one thing that makes me sad is that Ella won’t be able to experience the same type of sleeping arrangement! It would be great for college dorm prep 🙂 Woah Katie….stop talking about college. Any other people out there with sharing-room tips? I’d love to hear them!
p.s. I know that any topic relating to kids can be controversial. Please be respectful to others as they share their comments and to us as every kid, every parent and every situation is different! We are all doing our very best 🙂