10 Spectacular Ideas to Make Room-Sharing Work
Parents opt to have their children share a room for a variety of reasons. Maybe you're moving to a smaller place and don't have the space for everyone to have his or her own room, or maybe you're just hoping to encourage some sibling bonding. Whatever your motive for moving your little ones into the same room, there are plenty of ways you can help to make the transition a smooth one.
1. Communicate With the Older Sibling
The thought of squeezing two young children into one room may make room-sharing a daunting task, but talking to your older child may make things easier for everyone. Let him know that his baby sister may cry in the middle of the night. Tell him how fun it's going to be for him to show her his favorite toys. Make sure to ask him to enter and exit the room quietly when his little sister is sleeping. Explain the things he should and shouldn't do to keep his sister safe. Treating the older of the two siblings like the big kid that he is will make him feel excited about the new responsibility and ensure that everyone is safe and well rested.
2. Give Them Their Own Spaces
While there are a lot of advantages to sharing a room, privacy is not one of them. According to The Baby Sleep Site, “While this might not bother young children, it may bother older kids a lot.” If one or both of your children are bothered by the idea of such close quarters, try giving each sister her own personal space within the room. Depending on how much space you have, this might mean buying each child her own bed, dresser, nightstand, etc. and dividing the room with a curtain or just making sure that they both have their own space for their most prized possessions.
3. Assign Different Bedtimes
When two kids try to go to sleep in the same room at the same time, giggling and whispering often ensue. To avoid this, let the older brother go to sleep 30 minutes later than the younger brother. According to What to Expect, “He'll appreciate being made to feel like a big boy by staying up later than the baby and getting to spend extra time with you.” By the time your toddler is ready for bed, your baby should be asleep.
4. Safety First
If your toddler is sharing a room with a baby, make sure to baby-proof the room. Keep small toys that could be a choking hazard out of reach of those tiny hands. Try to avoid furniture with sharp corners. Explain to your toddler how important it is that she doesn't give the baby anything he could choke on.
5. Set the Stage for Sleep
“A dark, quiet room is the optimal sleep setting for most individuals, but it is especially important when siblings sleep together,” according to Big City Moms. It's inevitable that your kids will make noises like coughing and rolling over throughout the night, so offset that with the perfect environment for sleep. Keep the lights low, the temperature comfortable, and the noise to a minimum. If you can, invest in a white-noise machine.
6. Have a Backup Plan
There's a good chance that despite your good planning, your kids will still wake each other up occasionally. Keep a portable crib on hand for nights when the baby won't stop crying or your toddler has the stomach flu.
7. Don't Start Room-Sharing Too Early
While many families need their toddler and baby to share a room, make sure not to try it before they're old enough. If your toddler isn't old enough or mature enough to understand that he shouldn't feed the baby, or your baby still isn't sleeping through the night, you may want to come up with a different solution.
8. Make it Fun
Instead of lecturing your older child about being quiet while his sibling is sleeping, turn it into a game where he has to sneak into bed as silently as possible. Instead of hoping he and his younger sibling get along well, talk up the idea of room-sharing. (“Won't it be fun to have a sleepover with your baby brother every night?” and “You'll get to show him the games you like to play!” for example).
9. Be Sympathetic
One or both of your children may have a hard time getting used to the new sleeping arrangement. Be patient with them and listen to any concerns they may have. If they feel like you aren't listening or don't care, it will only add to the problem.
10. Let Them Teach Each Other
According to What to Expect, “One of the many upsides of siblings sharing a room is that your toddler gets a chance to shine as the big sib and learn about respect and responsibility.” Let the younger child learn how to behave from his older sibling. Teach your older child responsibility by having her play nicely with her baby brother.
Above all else, remember that any changes will take some getting used to for both the parents and the children. Give it some time, and find what works for you and your family!