A Bigger Family – Room-Sharing?

Suddenly, you have more children than you do bedrooms, and the sleeping arrangements have to change – it may not be a choice! Some of you may even like the idea of siblings sharing a room and being (emotionally) closer growing up. Children are adaptable and here are some tips that may help make the transition easier for you and your children.

1. Create Personal Space

One of the toughest things about having your children share a room is that all privacy disappears. While this might not bother young ones, it may bother older kids a lot. If you know that this is going to be a problem, then work to create a private, personal area for each child as best you can. For example, consider buying two of everything (2 beds, 2 dressers, 2 night stands), and then creating a side of the room for each child. Some families even string up a curtain along the centre of the room.

2. Honour Each Child’s Sleep Routine.

This is especially true for those of you who are putting babies and toddlers/pre-schoolers in the same room. Don’t assume that just because your children are sharing a room, they also have to share a sleep schedule. If your baby needs to go to bed at 6:30, but your toddler won’t fall asleep until 8:00, that’s okay. Put your baby to bed first, and then use the extra hour and a half to have some one-on-one time with your toddler.

At first your baby may wake up or upset your oldest child, so be sure to reassure and encourage him to sleep deeply. Over time, these periods of wakefulness will give way to sleep and you’ll find that if one wakes, it will not disturb the other.

Remember, safety first. Make sure your oldest child doesn’t feed unsafe toys to your baby through the cot bars, and always ensure oversized toys and blankets are removed from baby’s cot before bedtime.

3. Get a White Noise Machine

White noise can help promote better sleep for everyone, but especially for kids who are sharing a room. The noises that one child makes during the night can make it harder for the other to sleep — one snores (or talks, or coughs) and wakes up the other – white noise can help solve that.

4. Be Firm and Consistent

Decide early on what you’re going to allow and what you’re not. Establish boundaries, and set limits. Some families have a strict “lights out, no noise” policy at bedtime — when the lights go out, the children have to be silent. Other families allow some talking and giggling at bedtime, but put a limit on how long it’s allowed to continue before the kids have to be silent.

5. Have a Back-up Plan

Sometimes, even your best-laid plans go haywire. Maybe the baby goes through a sleep regression and suddenly starts waking during the night. Or maybe your pre-schooler contracts the flu and is up half the night vomiting. In times like these, it’s a good idea to have a back-up plan. For example, during nights that baby just won’t sleep soundly, set up the porta cot in another room (kitchen/living) and let him sleep there. It will allow your oldest child to get the sleep he needs, and it will spare you the stress of having to settle the baby.

6. Remember Room Sharing Gets Better

Changing your children’s sleeping arrangements probably isn’t going to be an easy process at first. In the beginning, your children will probably wake more often at night, and will probably be more sleepless than usual. But know that it’s going to get better! Once your children adjust to the new sleeping arrangement, things should return to normal.