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Putting 2 Kids to Bed in the Same Room

December 6, 2012

After four years, I should be an expert at putting two kids to bed in the same room, but I’m not. I’ve struggled with it enough to make me try every trick in the book- from music to rewards to sitting in their room. I suspect I’m not the only one out there to have these issues. So, it compelled me to do some research, relay what I found and also my newfound success!

Don’t get discouraged if you haven’t tried it yet, it might be easy for you! But, for the rest of us…some advice follows below.

Good news! I have found a more recent solution and thought I would offer it up, as well as those from other parents on listserves and on the internet. (Some details have been omitted, like names, to protect identities).

Susan (from listserve)
Our kids are a little closer in age than yours (3 years), but when our son, J, turned 3 months we told S, that she would be sharing a room with her baby brother, and she was thrilled. She actually kind of assumed that would be the case… her thinking: Mommy and Daddy share a room, so now I get a roomate too!
We would put the baby down a little bit earlier than S at first, and she got to have some special private time with one or the other parent, reading or just hanging out. Then she would quietly go to bed, eager to be helpful and not wake her brother. The biggest challenge is if one child wakes up in the night. And it depends on how soundly your kids sleep. We are lucky and they both sleep like the dead. But I have friends who use a sound machine, and that has helped them.

Jesse (from listserve)
It totally does help to put one to bed before the other … we can’t quite nail who goes down first each night, but try to nurse baby while her sister has bath with dad, then put baby down to sleep while sister watches a cartoon, then read to sister once baby down, then sister to bed. The three-year age difference totally helps this because big one understands why she needs to be quiet at night and not turn on lights, and sees it as her “job” to watch over her baby sister at night.

Amber (from Circle of Moms)
We have a 3.5 yr old and 1.5 yr old twins. We put the twins down first and then spend a little quality time with our 3.5 yr old doing something “special” like a quiet game that has pieces that are too small to pull out with the younger ones. That is a special time for us to bond with her. Plus she doesn’t need as much sleep as her sisters do, and they get to sleep before she comes in the room. When they were younger, we would put them all down together after a story b/c the oldest needed the rest.

Anon (from Berkeley Parents)
I know it’s unconventional here, but our two sleep together in a full size bed (they are 3.5 yrs and 20 months). Sure, they stay up playing for awhile, sometimes the little one gets up, but we just go in, say no, tuck them in, and walk out. It’s great! They are really cute; they tend to fall asleep back to back. They wake up a bit earlier due to the little one waking his older siseter but are not allowed to get out of their room until we get them. Shared a room as a kid..and loved it!

Julia (from Berkeley Parents)
We have 3 kids, now 14, 10 and 8, and while they each have their own bedrooms now, for many years, they all slept together (in our last house, they were all in an 8’x10′ bedroom!). With the age differences it can be hard – the younger ones need to get to sleep much sooner, but the older ones can cause more drama, etc. Here’s what we did. Ikea has these great beds that can turn into either high or low loft beds, bunk beds, etc. (now they all have various heights of their own loft beds). The oldest was in a high loft bed with his dresser and desk underneath and fabric all around that he could close off for privacy whenever he wanted. The middle gal was in the top bunk, and the youngest, by far the wildest in our family, was in the bottom bunk. We started the youngest in the bottom bunk right around 2 years with those removable side panels. The nighttime routine consisted of lights out after one of us reading a good story – we did a lot of greek myths so that everybody was engaged – and then I sang a few songs (they each got to pick one) and then we plugged in a lovely bedtime music cd, all quiet classical piano, that even now they each have a copy of in their own rooms. After listening to it many, many times as they go to sleep, the very act of listening to it now truly puts them to sleep. We even use it during late night road trips and they fall asleep immediately!When they first began to share one room, one of us would have to sit quietly in the room, often at the foot of the little one’s bed, to ensure that things remained calm, but soon they were all pretty well trained to only use a whisper voice once lights were out.

By the time my oldest was 11, it was clear that sharing a bedroom with his younger siblings wasn’t so fun anymore, but my youngest still misses sharing a room with his brother and sister, especially at nighttime, and not bc of the wild nights, but bc of the sweet feeling that they were all together.

I encourage you to try a few new routines that are calming, and don’t be surprised if you have to engage yourself with their bedtime for a little while longer, but it will smooth out and then you’ll be set once you move. Good luck! Julia

Anon (from Berkeley Parents)
We had a similar dilemma with our kids, who share a room. The baby would wake up crying several times a night, and if we didn’t immediately rush in and get her to stop, her older brother would wake up and get hysterical. We ended up having the baby sleep in a pack-n-play in the living room for quite a while.

Anon (from Berkeley Parents)
I think we have figured out how to have a 3 year old and an 8 month old share a room…We started CIO over the weekend and we were surprised at the outcome. We let the baby fall asleep in our bed and then moved him to the crib after his brother had gone to sleep. When the baby woke up (because he could sense that someone was putting him in the crib), he cried. But, and this is where it was a surprise, he didn’t wake his brother up! After the first two days of CIO, they now sleep fine together.Usually, I give the little one a sippy while I read the older one books. The little one usually falls asleep while I’m reading. After I’m done reading, I put the little one into the crib–and he wakes and fusses for about 2-3 minutes. While he is fussing, I have cuddle time with my three year old. Once the baby is asleep, I kiss my three year old good night and that is it! The baby is always up first in the am, but I get him before he starts to cry.

I was at the point of searching for a three bedroom place until finally everything clicked…and yes, everything gets thrown out the window when the three year old has a cold… Good luck!

Karen- that’s me! (my new solution)
I can concur with many of the other parents cited above and say that staggered bedtimes was our magic solution.  Our kids are 2 years apart. Initially, I did the staggered bedtimes and then I just let it slide. It was so much easier to put them to bed at the same time: one story, one song, one “goodnight.” But, as they got older and became good pals, it became me against “them” at bedtime. And, boy, are they the stronger team!  Their laughing and talking escalated to the point where I would end up yelling to be heard. Miserable.

So, when I complained to our teacher that our two kids giggled and talked all night, she suggested different bedtimes. And, it has worked for 4 weeks now. We read one story together and then my older son (Birch, age 6 years) and I tuck my daughter (Willow, age 4 years)  into bed. She gets cozy and then my son and I head to another room where he reads to me (great practice for him and makes him feel special to have one on one time).

I explained the new routine to them by saying that now that our oldest son Birch was in elementary, that he got a later bedtime. That seemed to make perfect sense to them. And, it works. Both kids feel special- Willow gets a lot of “goodnight” attention and special music to go to sleep by and Birch gets extra time with me.

The children get so much sleep now that they wake up earlier (arggh!), but they are older and can play together in the morning until it’s time to for me to wake up (or they wake me up with their fighting!). The additional morning playtime is incentive for them to get to sleep earlier too! The difference between their two bedtimes works out to be usually 30 minutes and that seems to be sufficient time for my youngest to fall asleep.

Here is hoping some of the advice helps you. It is pretty sweet to have siblings share a room- I wish I had done that with my sister.