advert

Two Kids, One Room

Jan27

by

Hi Amy,

Thank you so much for all the great advice you’ve dispensed! You are awesome. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’ll have 2 kids by the end of July, and I’m going to need to Make Some Changes. We’re moving into a bigger house with actual for real off street parking (YAHOO!!!) and it has a whole extra room. We can use this room to host the numerous guests I hope will come and watch my 2 children while I sleep, or we can have a room for each child.

My daughter will be 2.5 when her sibling is born (don’t know what we’re having). What are your thoughts on sharing rooms? It seems like it would be easier to keep the cribs, clothes, changing table, books, rocker, all in one place, but the reality is that my daughter isn’t nursing anymore, she will hopefully be potty trained by the summer, and she will definitely have a very different sleep schedule. But maybe keeping the two together will help the younger one get more of a routine? I’m just not sure how to go about it, and I really would love to keep a guest room. We have no family where we live, and I’m not sure I can lure them out for childcare/cooking/cleaning with just the promise of 2 children and a fold out bed in the living room. Heh.

Thanks again!

I actually have never done the toddler/newborn room-sharing combo, so I don’t have any first-hand experience with that. We moved Ezra out of his crib about three months after he turned two, skipped the toddler bed completely and went right to the bottom bunk in Noah’s room. (We used a safety rail for bit, then got rid of it. He rolled out of bed once. Meh, he was fine. Kid’s got an undentable head, after all.) I still feel a little guilty about how EASY the transition was and how quickly the two of them learned to co-exist with each other, and I gotta say I am HUGE FAN of the room-sharing concept in general.

So are the boys, actually. So don’t feel guilty about “choosing” the arrangement, even if it’s not technically 100% necessary. Little ones like companionship, for the most part. (And I’m assuming your daughter isn’t an impossibly light sleeper or prone to night terrors or some other mitigating circumstance.) Despite some days being a non-stop barrage of fighting/roughhousing/not sharing/omg he touched me sibling nonsense, Noah and Ezra are SO GOOD together in their room. They retreat to their beds with books and fall asleep just fine — even if the other one is awake and singing or kicking or making some other kind of insomniatic racket. Every once in awhile I find them snuggled up together like puppies in the bottom bunk. Noah claims that having Ezra with him “keeps the bad dreams away.” (OMG.)

We are in the early stages of “it might be time for a bigger house” discussions, and yet they are both ADAMANT that they want to continue sharing a room, even when offered the idea of having their “own.” I know this will change some day, most likely, but for right now, I wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, I worry more about Ike feeling left out when he gets older!

So part of me is like, “You want a guest room? Go for it! Room sharing rocks.” I understand the worries, though, about adding a newborn to a toddler’s sphere — will she resent the intrusion on her “space,” will the baby keep her up, different nap schedules, etc. I know plenty of families have made that exact set-up work, either by choice or necessity, however.

A new baby might not even spend that much time in his/her room and crib at first, giving your daughter time to adjust to her new roommate gradually. You might find you much prefer keeping the baby in your room at night, in a bassinet or Pack-n-Play or co-sleeper, and if your daughter needs to nap in peace you can let the baby nap elsewhere. (Ike has only JUST STARTED to nap in his actual crib in the last three weeks or so, as opposed to his carseat, swing, stroller, etc. SEVEN MONTHS LATER.)

I can tell you that MY older two are both excellent at tuning the baby (and each other) out, so the different sleep schedules and night wakings have never been something I’ve stressed over. Ike is in a different room than Noah and Ezra, but he’s RIGHT THERE (the rooms are quite small — combined they’re about the size of Noah’s original nursery in our city condo) and the walls aren’t soundproof in the slightest. And both of them have slept through just about every midnight screaming fit to date.

One thing that does (I think) make a big difference:  Keep the toys elsewhere, for the most part. Our boys’ room has a large, bolted-to-the-wall shelf for their books and one hanging storage-thing for some stuffed animals. And that’s it. When you’re in your room, you can choose something to read or to cuddle. All their other (many, multiple, oh God make it stop) toys are kept elsewhere in the house. (Basement playroom, back corner wall of the living room, etc.) Not only does this help with bedtime temptation to get out of bed and keep playing, it means 1) the sharing turf battles aren’t going to continue to rage when they are alone together in there, at night or in the morning, and 2) neither of them is ever denied access to their things because the other one is napping/sick/in timeout, etc.

At this point, now that we’ve belatedly gotten Ike’s sleep craziness under control (more on that another time, suffice to say thank you thank you thank you F-E-R-B-E-R) (YEAH I SAID IT) (COME AT ME BRO), the boys’ schedules are already coming together quite nicely. Ike takes an extra morning nap while the other two are at school. Ezra takes an afternoon nap about every other day, but Ike’s second nap usually doesn’t happen until Ezra’s awake again. Then all three of them are going to bed at 8:30. It’s lovely! Part of me is dreaming of a house with a big giant attic-level room where I could put all of them, together…especially if it meant I could also have a guest room instead of tripping over suitcases in the living room.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


Subscribe to posts by Amalah

26 Responses to “Two Kids, One Room”

  1. Trish Jan 27 at 9:23 pm Reply Reply

    Oh thank you for this question and answer. I have been wondering this exact same thing. We have a (relatively for the area) large 2br house, and I have been stressed out over the thought of toddler and baby in one room. I know it is doable, but hearing another few experiences gives me more hope that i win’t regret it. Not ready and probably can’t afford bigger right now, so we will be in the “by necessity” crowd.

  2. laura Jan 27 at 9:25 pm Reply Reply

    I laughed out loud at that, “yeah I said it, come at me bro” part. Oh for the day when people can find their own way in the sleeping/eating/poop and peeing terrain without fear of crazy judgment. And we are also thinking of moving our youngest into a room share with her older sister once she graduates to a big girl bed. So I’m glad to hear it went so well for your boys!

  3. Karen Jan 27 at 10:12 pm Reply Reply

    We are expecting our boy any day now and he will share a room with our 2.5 yr old daughter after about a year in our room and the crib in the second room. The extra bedroom will be a guest room and play room (we have no play room in our tiny house). My neighbors have two boys in a room and a boy/girl in the same room too even though they just added on to their house to have more space. The kids prefer it that way.

  4. JCF Jan 27 at 10:39 pm Reply Reply

    We have three kids (4, 3, and 18 months) sharing one very small room. We have two toddler beds and one mini crib in that room and nothing else, save some books on a built in shelf and a small beanbag chair in the corner for whichever parent is on bedtime duty. It actually works quite well, and the only reason we plan on eventually splitting them up is to put our daughter in her own room when she gets older and sharing with the boys isn’t so great anymore. In our case, we have decided that the best scenario for bedtime is to have one parent sit on the beanbag until everybody settles down (about 30 minutes). This wasn’t necessary back when only one kid could escape the bed, but now that two are in toddler beds, things tend to get circus like when they’re left alone.
    The other thing to keep in mind is that you may want the kids to nap separately, even if they share a room at night. My oldest doesn’t nap anymore, so he goes in the playroom for about an hour for quite playtime (aka–let Mama collapse on the couch and regain her sanity for a bit), the 3 year old naps in her bed, and the baby naps in a pack and play that we keep in our room for that purpose.

    Despite the occasional grumblings on our part about all three packed in one room, we really love how close the kids are and we love hearing them chatting with each other over the baby monitor in the morning.

  5. Eef Jan 28 at 7:52 am Reply Reply

    I’m expecting my second in about a month, and we have only one room for the kids. We plan on having the boys share, but not right away. I worry about leaving a tiny tiny newborn alone with a boisterous toddler. 
    What if he decides to “help mama” by trying to get the baby out of the crib? What if he lovingly piles stuffed animals on the baby, creating a suffocating hazard? Or, a realistic possibility as well, what if he does something to the baby out of jealousy? I would not leave the two alone until I have seen how they interact, and everyone’s more or less used to each other. Intentional or not, there is a risk that the toddler would hurt the baby in some way. Maybe I’m being overly anxious about this, but I know I wouldn’t get a wink of sleep myself if I put the newborn with the toddler. 

    Also, my toddler usually sleeps through the night (barring sickness), and the baby would need several nightly feedings. I wouldn’t want to wake the toddler unnecessarily. So our newborn will stay in our bedroom at first, and with his big brother later.

  6. SarahB Jan 28 at 8:02 am Reply Reply

    Yay, Ferber and sleep for Amalah! We are fans here too.

    I think I would start with the baby sleeping in your room and have a guest futon instead of a guest bed so you have some flexibility. Guests stay on futon, #2 says with you, then decide what feels right when #2 is ready to move to a crib in another room.

  7. Julie Jan 28 at 8:34 am Reply Reply

    I have a almost 3 and almost 1 year old, and they share a room. The youngest slept in a co-sleeper in our room until about 6-months, then we did sleep training in a pack and play in our room to keep him from keeping the oldest up, then moved him into the crib in the oldest’s room. While the youngest was still crying himself to sleep for short periods of time, I just told the oldest to “cover his head” and he fell asleep without problems. And once he’s asleep, he almost always stays asleep through the youngest’s wakings. They seem to like sharing a room – the oldest will sometimes ask me to put the youngest to bed with him, especially when they were younger and weren’t always sharing the same bed time. So I’d say go for it.

    Much like Amalah, the kids bedroom is a bookshelf, a dresser, a hamper of stuffed animals, and the crib and bed – all the toys are elsewhere.

  8. Annie Jan 28 at 9:39 am Reply Reply

    Thanks for this post! Perfect timing. We have a 4 year old and almost 1 year old. We’re about to move them into one room and hope that it goes well! Thanks for all the tips in the comments!

  9. Kim Jan 28 at 11:52 am Reply Reply

    Go for it. I’ve got the same deal – good size house for the area, three bedrooms, 2 girls. The nursety got moved around and the crib reinstalled before the baby came. She ended up cosleeping, but after about 4 months she moved into the other room. The girls have always been great together, and they started snuggling in bed together when my Little was 3 mos. (Not sleeping, snuggling. Great fun for all) They’re now 2 and 5, and occasionally my Big gets woken up by my Little, but only in the morning. I can’t ever remember a night time waking, ever, that woke her up, too. The nap thing was more problematic, since my Big was long past them when Little was born. She has mostly nappped on my bed, or in the guest room. She only fell off once when she was small – whichwas about two times fewer than her sister. And because she was so used to sleeping on a bed, we moved her into the bottom bunk when she was 18 mos. old. We’re all good over here – wouldn’t change a thing.

  10. Nancy Jan 28 at 1:18 pm Reply Reply

    Can’t say anything for the sibling room sharing (we only have the one kiddo), but I say if you can keep a guest room – DO IT! Like you, we have no nearby family so our small third bedroom is a guest room. I’d love to make it a play room (small house – my living room is crazy overrun with little people, cars, Thomas, balls, you name it!) but the guest room is essential for when family comes. (And they do – frequently!) Also much more convenient than relatives using the couch. Because of the aforementioned living room/playroom and because kiddo thinks 6am is a reasonable wake up time. Family? Not so much.

  11. Diana Jan 28 at 1:43 pm Reply Reply

    Can I just say THANK YOU for telling us that daytime sleep isn’t so easy, and that Ike has just started sleeping in his crib!? Max sleeps well and long in the carrier, the swing, ANYWHERE but his bed. There he wakes up after about 30-40 minutes, so is ont staying down for one sleep cycle. I feel a lot less pressure!

  12. Brooke Jan 28 at 3:32 pm Reply Reply

    We have a 6 year old girl and a 3 year old boy who share a room. When he was born, we lived in a two bedroom apt. He had a cosleeper and crib in our room, she had her own room. When we has 18 months old, we moved into a four bedroom house. The fourth bedroom is tiny and on the lower level, so it’s the office. The kids really wanted to share a room, so they got the biggest bedroom, and we have a guest room. It’s really nice not to have to stash guests on the futon in the dining room. And the kids love sharing a room. Eventually we’ll need to separate them, but I suspect that is several years away. They just like being together. We, also, have the luxury of having a separate place to stash toys, which does really help.

  13. Phillipa Jan 29 at 11:07 am Reply Reply

    We have our 7 yr old daughter and 5 year old son in one room. Their 1 yr old brother has his own room – for now. Expecting number 4 (GAH!) in 3 mths and while he? will be in with me for the first 6 mths or so, eventually he will have to share with older brother. We’ll eventually build a room on the third level for the eldest, and then when she’s old enough, she can move down to the basement and then the older boy can have her room and then each of the younger two will have a room upstairs….this leaves however no spare room and we have two big dogs sharing the third level space. Is it ideal? God no…..but will it do until we come into a windfall of cash and can move to someplace bigger? It will have to. Having two different genders in one room I think will be the hardest part, and I have the feeling we’ll have to build that new room sooner rather than later.  

  14. Meg Jan 29 at 8:32 pm Reply Reply

    I just went through this SAME scenario w/ my two (almost exactly 2 years apart. We started with the baby in our room in a bassinet, then pack-n-play. They just started sleeping together when the l.o. turned 4 months old… the hardest part was getting the two-year-old, who had just recently transitioned to a toddler bed, to not jump up and down if we had to give an extra pat at bedtime. But after a week or so they both adjusted and we have not had any problems with baby-wakings waking up the toddler — she sleeps right through it. Our biggest problem right now is having the toddler end up in our bed at 5 am – the baby often finishes her night in our bed (I’m tired of traipsing across the hall and she is Not A Good Sleeper — awaiting the accounts of Ike’s journey to sleep with baited breath!). So the big one likes to join the party -oy for mama who is a light sleeper.

    anyhow, naps worked themselves out (baby has a morning nap in her crib, afternoon nap on bed with aforementioned exhausted mama while toddler sleeps in her own bed) and we think it’s great. Be prepared for speedbumps the first few nights but all in all worth it (especially to have a guest room, the same trade we made).

  15. professormama Jan 30 at 2:04 am Reply Reply

    We live in the city, in a 2 bedroom apartment, because you will not find a 3 bedroom apartment here, also it would cost more than any normal person can imagine. Our son is about to turn 7, and we have a 2.5 year old daughter. When she was a baby (and before that) our son had his own room. She slept in our room until she was about 20 months old… when we bought a bunk bed. She informed us that she would be sleeping on the bottom bunk and moving in with her brother. I was going to wait until she turned 2, but she was ready. Our son would like his own room again, but he isn’t going to get one for a really long time, because that’s just reality. Tons of kids share a room, especially in big expensive cities where it’s necessary, it’s no big deal. I think the kids get along better, and share their stuff more easily etc.  It’s not selfish to expect them to share, but I’d definitely keep the baby in your room for the first 6-12 months, just to make sleeping easier for everyone and so you don’t have to worry about the big kid climbing into the baby’s crib, like I did when I was little. 

  16. jL Jan 30 at 8:26 am Reply Reply

    My 18 month old twins have shared a room since birth (and a crib for the first four months). We are expecting another one in August and I am planning on keeping the baby in our room until 4 or 5 months in a pack n play and then am kind of really considering letting he/she just stay in the pack n play in the twins room after that so I can keep my “guest room” which is actually more of a storage unit.

  17. Myriam Jan 30 at 9:19 am Reply Reply

    No experience here, but why not combine the baby’s room with the guest room. Put the crib in the second bedroom and voila! In addition, you’ll have a bed to use in the baby’s room for the occasional “long” night, or if you decide to cosleep, but not in the same bed as your husband. Then, if you decide to move them together at a later time do so. If not, remove the guest bed. Good luck!

  18. Auntie G Jan 30 at 10:58 am Reply Reply

    I have two boys, 3.5 years and 3.5 months, and they share a room. It is not without challenges, but generally everything works fine. Wanted to chime in with the experience of doing so from day one.
    Big brother LOVES sharing “his” room with the baby. Regarding baby’s safety and big brother’s understanding – we talked a LOT about sharing a room before he was born, and how the crib was not for climbing in, etc. I think big bro has and had a good idea of the sitch – and then shortly after baby was home, we realized that big brother really did think “his baby” was going to snuggle in the toddler bed with him. :( Challenges: Baby was NOT a good sleeper from day one, and he was with us in a bassinet for about a month. I do not like sharing a room with a baby, as I am a CRAZY light sleeper, so that was quite hard for ME. But I was not able to risk the preschooler’s sleep also being ruined in those early days. I still end up taking baby into our room to nurse in the middle of the night, though I’m not sure it’s necessary anymore. Baby’s down for the night by 7:30 and big brother by 8:00. They both get up for the day between 6 and 7. Big boy doesn’t really nap anymore *sob* so that’s not an issue, though I agree that we moved most toys out of the room — beds, clothes, and books only. I’m somewhat convinced that having the baby with me so much in the beginning has contributed to his nap reluctance and need to be held at all times — but he clearly had those inclinations anyway, and we’re sloooooooooowly making progress on both. Baby did have a nighttime regression about a week ago and we decided we needed to move big brother into our room on an air mattress for a few nights so baby could “fuss it out,” and that worked fine.

  19. Kate Jan 30 at 11:01 am Reply Reply

    Thank you Amy! I am bookmarking this for my husband to read when I start negotiating for baby #3. One of his big reservations is that our two boys (currently 2.5 and 5 mos) would have to share a room to make room for another baby. Hopefully he will see that it’s not a big deal and they’ll probably actually love it!

  20. Zoë Jan 30 at 11:15 am Reply Reply

    My now 16 month old has been sharing a room with her big sister since she was 9 weeks old, and big sis was almost 3. It worked out so much better than I had hoped. They very rarely wake each other up, but on the nights the baby would not settle, I just brought her into our bed. That hasn’t happened in nearly a year (probably stopped about the time she could find her paci herself). Every morning, big sis and big brother wake up first, and little sis sleeps for at least another hour. They learn pretty quick to block out noises, and a fan helps to block it out too. As for naps, we just let big sis sleep in our bed while little sis is in her crib. The only issue is a bedtime. We put big sis to bed first as she can be a pain about going to bed, but little sis follows soon after and it won’t be long before they go to bed at the same time. Eventually, we plan on doing bunk beds, and I’m sure there will be nights when both are in the same bed (probably with big brother in the top bunk). Looking forward to it!

  21. SarahC Jan 30 at 11:53 am Reply Reply

    I’m expecting my second baby in May and live in a 3BR house. Not only does my MIL come to visit for about 3 months out of the year (which we love) but our third room is my office too. Luckily, the room is large and it will have a queen size bed, my office desk, crib, dresser, and rocker. When we have guests, the baby will sleep in a Pack N Play in my room. when the baby starts daycare, I’ll be working from my desk in the nursery. It’s not ideal, but it’s not a bad solution.

  22. Lindsay Jan 30 at 4:30 pm Reply Reply

    Oh please yes the Ike sleep story! We’ve just succumbed to Ferber ourselves and I could use a laugh about it. Please soon!

  23. JayelleMo Jan 30 at 5:01 pm Reply Reply

    There is *maybe* one night every two months where I regret having my 2 girls share a room.
    They are 2.5 years apart and they’ve been sharing a room since my youngest moved out of our room at 5 months old. We found that my oldest has no trouble sleeping (or pretending to sleep) if/when her sister cries. I think siblings develop a bit of an immunity to each others noises.
    I did hear my oldest going “shhh shhh, go back to sleep” one time when her sister was making awake-but-not-crying noises and that made it all worth it.

    Oh, and the older one has now taught the younger her morning ritual of saying “Daddydaddydaddydaddy…” so that works out well for me!

  24. MR Jan 30 at 5:23 pm Reply Reply

    We just did this several months ago. We have two bedrooms, one of which was a guest room and the other my older daughter’s. Originally we made the guest room our baby’s room, figuring she would cosleep with us for a while and unsure how we would get them both to actually sleep in the same room. (They are just under 3 years apart.) The baby did cosleep for the first 4 months, but she suddenly turned into a really noisy sleeper and was keeping me awake and deciding to eat constantly just because she could and not because she needed/wanted to, so I moved her to her own room. Almost immediately, my older dd wanted to sleep in the baby’s room. After a few weeks of saying no, we decided to let her try it. The trial run she slept on the guest bed. The baby went down first, and my older dd went in to bed about half an hour later when the baby was good and asleep. We had gone over all the rules “you need to be quiet because sister is sleeping. No playing on the glider, and absolutely NOTHING goes in sister’s crib – no toys, no hands, no blankets, and when mommy comes in to feed sister, if you wake up, just go right back to sleep.” and she would repeat them back before we went in quietly and tucked her in. She LOVED it. The following weekend we replaced the guest bed with our dd’s toddler bed and left all her toys in her original room. It works great. Occasionally we DO have the night where they go down together and are laughing and giggling at each other (they are 8.5 moths and 3.5 years and older sis loves to make little sis laugh), and we do occasionally have to go in and remind big sis to be quieter, but they sleep through a lot of each other’s noises. The biggest issue is if they go down at the same time. If you stagger it just a little, it is SO MUCH EASIER. And it is so much easier to have a dedicated guest room at night for our frequent family visitors. Neither hold gets displaced for crucial sleep time. And dd still gets to play with her toys in that room. She usually just drags Grandma in there to play away from sister. Lol. It actually has worked well, because now that the baby is mobile, we just keep all the toys she can’t play with in the guest room, and it gives sis a place to get away and not have to share.

  25. elz Feb 01 at 3:21 pm Reply Reply

    Yes, to everything Amalah said. My girls have been sharing since my youngest was about a month old (the eldest was 23 months at the time). Now they are 5 and 7 and we all LOVE them sharing a room. At first it was out of necessity due to a smaller home, but for the past 4 years it’s been by choice. I wholeheartedly agree on keeping toys elsewhere. Their room has books and stuffed animals, but toys are in the playroom. They do homework at the dining room table, so nobody is up late doing assignments at this point. We often find our two snuggled in the same bed (they have a twin over full bunk bed) and My GOD the sweetness slays me. I’m sure they’ll want their own rooms eventually, but it works for us.
    Also- benefits- neither one is particular about having to have absolute quiet/dark/etc when she sleeps. We went through potty training with both while the other sister slept soundly, sickness, vomiting, etc, they really don’t wake the other up b/c they are so used to it.

  26. Lisa Feb 02 at 3:45 pm Reply Reply

    Our two girls are a year apart and share a room. We too have talked about buying a larger house and they say they still want to share a room. Probably we’ll buy the bigger house and then the two of them and their baby sister will all want to be in one room together. Until they’re 11, 12, and 13. Then we might need separate rooms for each. Or boarding school.

Follow us on Pinterest

Close