Charlotte and Emmie have been sharing a room for about four months now.
Overall, the experience has been hugely positive for us. I love that we have the extra space and that the girls have a chance to learn from the tension of sharing a space AND bond as sisters in their own “world.” So far, there haven’t really been any major backfires. In fact, I think their sleep overall has improved. And, perhaps most surprising of all, bedtime in particular is (usually) much smoother than it was before.
When we first moved them into the same room back in October, this was a *hot* topic in my DM’s, so today I thought I’d share a little update on how it’s been going for us.
Whenever I’m about to embark on some new parenting hurdle, I love reading what other moms did or didn’t do in the situation. That’s why I do these posts–not that I’m some parenting expert but because I personally think it’s so helpful to just learn from other moms on how things actually played out for them.
I’ll share a little about why we decided to move them into the same room, how we prepared for the transition, and share a few tips that helped us along the way.
And–per usual–there’s a LOT of info here, so fair warning. I set off to jot down a quick, breezy update and ended up typing up a thesis, but what’s new? I received a handful of questions on IG about this when I posted a question box last week, and I’m pretty sure I covered everything below.
We have a small house–it’s around 1400 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. I run a tight ship keeping everything organized. I do this not only because I am a sociopath (although that’s well documented here) but because it seems like any kind of mess can really crowd an already-small home. I’m not saying my house always looks perfect, but everything certainly has a home that it’s meant to be kept in.
The idea of having any “wasted space” is intolerable to me, and that’s part of the reason we moved the girls into the same room. It felt silly to keep them each have their own rooms in such a small house. And even though we had an extra queen bed in Charlotte’s room, it was by no means a guest-friendly situation.
We decided to move them into the same room so we can use the extra bedroom for guests or maybe (MAYBE) another child down the road.
Also, I happen to be of the mind that room-sharing builds character?
I think having to share a space provides just the right amount of adversity in a child’s day-to-day. A micro-adversity, if you will: a tiny moment of discontent that gives the child an opportunity to practice getting through something uncomfortable.
We are wired to protect our kids from discomfort and pain. I know it’s my own tendency to want to put up emotional bumpers around each of my daughter’s existences.
Ultimately, though, my goal–like most parents, I assume–is to raise resilient kids who are able to collaborate, compromise, and communicate. We are raising adults, not kids, after all. Every interaction, every conflict, every moment of tension is a chance to practice navigating “real life.”
It’s my hope that sharing a room will give the girls the opportunity to learn how to move through conflict.
It’s also just a great dose of “the world doesn’t revolve around you” which I think is absolutely crucial.
I think back to my childhood and how my little sister and I had our own language, full of inside jokes and weird voices and strange routines. For years, Miriam and I had this ultra-specific bedtime regimen: first, we’d lay across from each other in our twin beds and perform a series of perfectly synchronized supine leg exercises/stretches. Then, we’d settle in for “chat time” and whisper back and forth about various topics until we fell asleep. Sometimes we’d hold hands across the gap between our beds, lol. I swear we’d be up for 2 hours each night after bedtime.
It makes me feel achey-in-a-good way to picture Charlotte and Emmie forming this type of friendship. It’s our hope that sharing a room will help grow their sisterly bond. I don’t want to force anything, but I do want to put the girls in a position where they can learn to lean on each other.
Even though I was fully on board and excited for the change, I went into the “merger” with a considerable amount of panic in my heart. I have always been skittish about my girls’ sleep, absolutely NOT the type of chill mom who can be easy-breezy about a night of disturbed sleep. Since day one, I’ve gone above and beyond to make sure my kids get a good night’s sleep, even to the dismay of eye-rolling family members. If my girls sleep well, then I sleep well, feel me?
I was nervous that moving them into the same room would ruin all of my hard work on their sleep habits.
They are mostly both great sleepers, but I just thought, I don’t know, that they would wake up any time the other stirred in their bed? Or, perhaps, that Char would wake Emmie when she went to the bathroom in the middle of the night and that we wouldn’t be able to get them back down after? I pictured them throwing ragers at midnight, as silly as that sounds.
We made a huge deal about this with the girls. Tyler and I were absolutely insufferable, going on and on about how lucky they were to be moving into the same room. It was their “big girl” privilege.
I’m not a fan of forcing feelings, but at the same time, I think it’s a parent’s job to build hype in these types of situations. By the time we made the switch, the girls were both SO excited to share their “sister room.”
At the time we moved them into the same room, Emmie was 2 and 2 months. Char was about to turn 4.
Outside of Charlotte’s midnight trips to the bathroom, both girls generally sleep through the night. I don’t think I would have moved them into the same room if that wasn’t the case. Looking back, though, I think they definitely could have handled it had we done it several months earlier.
Before we moved them, we also had started to feel like we needed to switch things up for Emmie. Emmie usually kind of talks/yells herself to sleep each night. Before we moved them into the same room, she had gotten into the habit of taking 30-40 minutes to fall asleep at night, some nights throwing full on riots in her crib. Tyler and I had a feeling that a change was just what she needed to help her relax a little at night.
After we moved them together, Emmie really shaped up. She still does her typically bedtime stalling and pillow talk chattering, but she’s not upset like she was before (usually). If she does go nuts, sometimes we’ll go in and threaten to move her back to her old room, and BOTH girls just lose it anytime we do. Char has become very attached to having her in there which is so sweet.
We moved Emmie into Charlotte’s room because Char’s was the bigger of the two bedrooms by far. Looking back, I’m really glad it worked out this way. I think it was important for Charlotte to stay in her own space because she’s older and more attached to her room. This was really helpful through the transition.
Before we moved them, Charlotte was still sleeping in her toddler bed (a big Pottery Barn crib that had a little toddler gate on it). Once we moved Emmie’s crib into the room, I hated the way the mismatched cribs looked in there. We made a game time decision to go get a twin mattress for Char and put Emmie in the Pottery Barn crib (we turned it back into an infant crib for her).
Eventually, we’ll get a “real” bed frame for Char’s mattress, and we’ll change Emmie’s crib into the toddler bed sometime this spring, I think. I want her to be able to sleep in a real bed when we go to Europe in May but want to wait as long as possible until then to transition her.
So far, this has worked out. Char’s bed is a pain to make (picture me in a fully extended Warrior 2), so it’ll be nice to get her up off the ground in the next few months. And for all her rioting, Emmie has surprisingly not yet attempted to climb out of her crib, even with the excitement of sharing a room.
Tyler and I moved everything on our own while the girls were in preschool one Friday morning. We decided that it was going to be way too overstimulating (for everyone) to be moving the beds and such with them underfoot. So we got the room all set up while they were gone and did the Big Reveal when they got home that day.
We chose to do this on a Friday so we’d have the weekend to recover in case things went south.
The girls really surprised us with how well they took to room sharing. Like I said, I pictured total anarchy, but I think we made such a big deal about how lucky they were that they didn’t want to squander it.
We kept the crib set up in the guestroom for the first few weeks. I wanted to be able to follow through on our threats to take the privilege away if they couldn’t handle it.
I think keeping the same bedtime routine as before the transition helped a lot too.
And, much to my surprise, they didn’t wake each other in the middle of the night! They still don’t, for the most part, unless they are both sick or whatever. Maybe they were always sturdier sleepers than I thought?
For nap time, we have Emmie nap in her bed alone in the girls’ room, and Charlotte does her “quiet time” in the guestroom. Char only naps once in a blue moon these days, but we still ask her to have quiet play/reading time by herself for 45 minutes to an hour each day when we put Emmie down. Char is an introvert and usually needs this time to recharge and relax each day even though she doesn’t sleep anymore.
Either way, I think it makes sense to do naptime separately. I could imagine it being chaotic getting them to nap at the same time in the same room because naps have always been tricker than nighttime sleep in our house.
We have always put the girls to bed at the same time, so we continued this when we moved them into the same room. A few people recommended staggering bedtimes, and I can certainly see the advantage of that, but I am far too impatient for that. If it’s bedtime, it’s bedtime.
Since Char doesn’t nap, she’s usually ready to sleep by 7pm sharp. Emmie does better with a 7:30pm bedtime. We usually land somewhere in the middle, around 7:15pm. Most nights, Emmie croons for a while in her bed and calls us in for water or help with her blanket at least once or twice before she falls asleep. Char got used to this pretty much immediately, and most of the time she’s snoring by the time we come back in to help Emmie.
The girls were SO excited to wake up and get after it in their new room together. After we moved them together, it seemed like they started waking up earlier and earlier each morning, ready to PLAY. This was the only “backfire” that we experienced.
Basically, we have this Hatch nightlight set to turn on at 6:45am each morning, and the girls know that they need to stay asleep (or at least stay in bed) until the light comes on.
We let the girls choose the color–they landed on purple after much deliberation. I was a little skeptical, and it took a few days for them to really understand the concept, but they generally adhere to the policy these days. Sometimes they’ll wake up earlier and we have to remind them or go in and give Emmie a sip of water and put her blanket back on, etc.
I would definitely recommend this for room sharing. I actually wish I had started doing it with both girls from the get-go because it seems to be pretty effective most days.
My advice for using the ok-to-wake light is to start slow with it and be flexible with the light time while you figure out the best wake up time. If, for example, your child is waking up at 5:30am and you would like them to wake up at 6am, I’d just make them wait for 5 minutes at the beginning before you turn the light on. And then slowly extend as they start sleeping later. When we first started using the light, we’d adjust it each day depending on what time we heard them starting to wake up.
(The whole thing, to me, is reminiscent of “le pause” concept from Bringing Up Bébé: essentially, in all areas of life, making kids wait or “attend” is a good thing).
We have only done one trip since we moved them into the same room, and that was to my in-laws’ house last weekend. I was super nervous about it, and but they did great! (Outside of some understandable crazy bed time energy, of course).
Charlotte slept on the pull-out couch, and Emmie slept next to her in the pack-n-play, under the SlumberPod which we left unzipped. That was probably her last trip fitting into a pack-n-play, so we will have to start figuring out our next move with her.
We are planning on them sharing a room throughout our whole Europe trip this summer, so I’ll have to report back on how that goes. Ultimately, I do think it’s better for them to share rooms when we travel because now at this age I think they will be a great comfort to each other being not in their own home.
Okay, I think that basically covers everything (I should hope so, anyway!), and I hope this post was helpful. If your kids share a room, please let me know if I missed anything or if you have anything to add about your experience in the comments section!
It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?