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Monday, April 19, 2010

One room, two beds

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.

19 comments:

  1. that's thinking outside the box, or bedroom.

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  2. I love that my boys share a room. I'm even considering putting Andrew in there soon. That would mean a 7 yr old, 3 1/2 yr old and 1 1/2 year old all together... in a SMALL room.

    I think it'll be great.

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  3. I applaud you.

    I grew up sharing a room. I shared a room for most of my childhood. Even when I did not share my room, I often shared my bed with one or the other of my younger sisters, because even if we wanted our own rooms, we didn't want to sleep ALL ALONE.

    I think that adults put a lot of value on being able to afford to not share space (ie: a big enough house for everyone to have their own room), but I also think that children place more value on feeling connected to their loved ones.

    I hope this works out for you guys. And once they get old enough to want their own space, the boy's room is there waiting for him.

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  4. I hope that this continues to work for you! I would like to try this with my own children at some point, too. But at the moment I'm afraid of the transition. I think sometimes you need to do these things when no one's sleeping anyway, so that the adjustment period isn't a deal-breaker.

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  5. Smart mom! I hope it is the solution that works for a long time. I was an only child, and used to wake up at night lonely all the time. I loved sleepovers, and despite what normally happens... I slept better.

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  6. This sounds like a great alternative to putting a lock on her door. I too am glad that it seems to be working for you. Your patience is incredible.

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  7. Our kids shared a room and loved it for a long time. Eventually the older girl wanted a space of her own.

    I think you do whatever works!

    btw I stayed with my kids till they were asleep too. Eventually you can ease out of it.

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  8. My daughters share a room, and it works well. THey're like puppies and I sometimes come in and find them in bed together (though they do have separate beds). Of course it's mostly because we live in an old farmhouse with large bedrooms but less of them - as the girls get over we are debating the best way to divide the room into two. Hopefully there's still a few years, because they seem to enjoy each other's company.

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  9. I'm glad it's working so well! yay to sleep. Although I'm shocked you and the husband don't end up sleeping with them in their beds all night. Cozied up into a bed with a little person until they fall asleep... I'd be there til' morning. ;)

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  10. Fantastic! I shared a room with my sister when we were little. I remember going up into my sister's bunk once when I had a nightmare--and I'm the big sister! I hope it continues to work for you.

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  11. @Lara If the girl would sleep with us I would just do that but instead she is awake and so are we!

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  12. My girls share a room, and it's wonderful. Glad it's working out.

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  13. Oh I hope this works out for you! I shared a room with my sis for many, many years. When I finally had my own room (14 yrs old) I had trouble sleeping alone.

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  14. Yay! Isn't it maddening when these things seem so obvious after the fact but the idea never occurred to you? It was like that when we discovered that leaving Lia's bedroom door open made a world of difference in helping her settle to sleep.

    Lia and Nico (4 & 2) have shared a room for over a year. Figuring out how to make it work (i.e. how to get them both sleeping at the same time!) took a little while, but I think it was definitely worth it. Nico was used to sleeping in a room full of kids so I suspect it helped his transition to our house.

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  15. SO happy to hear that sleep seems to be getting better. what a great idea. i hope it continues to work!

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  16. I love your approach to this. I was a TERRIBLE sleeper as a child and it was born of a desperate fear of being alone (I can could write a book about why, but it doesn't matter). But on the few occasions when my sister and I shared a room (for novelty's sake) I slept like a champ. I wish my parents had seen that it was a solution and not just something neat to do with us girls for a little while. My childhood would have been much more rested!

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  17. Thanks for sharing this! I discovered this post via the Social Media Monday link, and immediately flagged it as a must-read. I am specifically planning to put my girls in a room together, in the hopes that they could keep each other company. I mean, it's really sweet when Girl the Elder (22 months) climbs into our bed, but sometimes we'd like it to ourselves :). I can't wait until Girl the Younger (2 months) is ready for a toddler bed, I figure that's when I'll move them in together. Although who knows, I may start to miss them and they'll find mommy starts crawling into bed with them!!

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