Her bed is in the far corner. His is tucked under the window. Close to each other but still separated by a small bookcase overflowing with books.
I moved his bed into her room last Tuesday afternoon. She hadn't been sleeping. I was desperate. After waking for the third night in a row, and when she wakes she is up for hours at a time, I was ready to put a lock on her door and just deal with the screaming that would result. I had no patience left. Neither did the husband.
I didn't see another option. I needed to sleep. The husband needed to sleep. Apparently the only one that didn't did sleep was the girl. A lock it was, even though I knew that this would mean long nights of listening to her yell and soothing the boy back to sleep after her yelling would wake him. And feelings of guilt. I knew they would be coming too.
Then I stopped. Something I read made me consider the viability of doing the exact opposite of what we were about to do. Instead of leaving her alone in her room, we would give her company. Her brother.
If she was waking up because she was lonely or didn't want to be by herself, two things that she would often say to us at 2am, then we would give her someone to sleep with. Someone other then us!
So when the boy woke up from his nap on Tuesday, I stripped his bead of the mattress and slats and carefully maneuvered it out the door, down the short hallway and into the girl's room. The excitement of this lasted all afternoon. The kids played on their beds, on each other's bed and in their new room for an hour. We are having a sleepover! said the girl.
I am cautiously calling this move a success. The first night it was hard to get them to sleep given their excitement. The boy rolled around on his bed and played with the curtain. She had to sit up and check on him every time he made a noise. Since then bedtime has been fairly easy. The husband lies with the girl and tells her a story while I nurse the boy. Then we stay with them while they fall asleep. (I would love to transition out of that but let's just deal with one thing at a time, shall we).
The girl has been sleeping through the night most nights. One night she was up for three hours and that made be doubt our decision to put them in the same room. The husband ended up taking her to the boy's old room and lying with her on a mattress on the floor.
The next morning we had a talk with her and told her that if she wanted the boy to sleep in her room (which she does) then she can't wake up at night because it will wake him up too. We also introduced "sleep stars" to encourage her to sleep at night. If she sleeps through the night she gets a coloured star cut out of construction paper. For the first two night a star equalled a treat, like a new book or a paint set, but since then she has forgotten to ask for anything. And we haven't reminded her.
I want this to work. I think it will. It is. I just have to realize that there is not magic solution to her sleep. She will probably still wake up sometimes. If this makes it better though, maybe that is enough.
Plus they love it. They love sharing a room. They seem to love knowing that the other one is there, just across the room. Two beds in one room.