Getting siblings to share a room can be tricky, and there are lots of things to consider when deciding whether it is the best choice for your family. And, for some families it is unavoidable depending on the available space in your house!
If not sharing rooms is an option for the siblings in your home, my advice is to opt against it until your children reach school age.
Because schedules and sleep needs vary so much from newborns, to young ones on one nap, to school age children, sleep is easily interrupted when sharing a room.
Even with older children, there may be one who thinks each night is a slumber party and prevents the other sibling from sleeping.
Tip: The American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend parent’s share a room with their infant until age six-months, ideally the first year.
If sharing a room is a MUST for your family, here are five things to you need to know to make it go as smoothly as possible:
1. Ideally, we want to wait until both children are sleeping through the night. This means going to bed around the same time and waking around the same time. If you have one child who is a perpetual early riser, this could mean you have two children who are perpetual early risers. It is best to have all night-time challenges solved before putting them in a room together.
2. Do two bedtimes if needed. If your children are going to bed at two different times, that is okay. Just make sure you aren’t keeping one child up later simply because the older child has a later bedtime. A better option is to have one parent put the younger child to bed while carrying out the bedtime routine for the older child in the parent’s room or living room. At the older child’s bedtime, go quietly into the room where the other child is sleeping.
3. Take advantage of the environment. Make sure the room is dark to avoid any monkey business that may take place like late night “chatting”, playing, etc. Also, make sure you have white noise going in the background to drown out the any noise and keep one child from waking the other.
4. Start where you mean to end. In other words, make sure both of your kiddos are great sleepers to start with. This will work to your advantage long term because you have established a great sleep foundation from the start. Be sure you are consistent each night. When your little ones team up and use stalling tactics, be consistent but firm on what happens at bedtime.
5. Have a family talk with your older child. While children like to feel helpful, you don’t want them to feel responsible for their siblings. Remind them that parents are responsible for their children’s sleep, but that they should remain respectful of their younger sibling’s need for sleep as well.
Will room sharing and sleep always be perfect? Nope! When it comes to sleep, nothing ever is. But consistency, a strong foundation, and grace will get you through.