Personally, I am not a big fan of room sharing. I was tormented by my sister when we were young and shared a room; she had a line down the middle that I was not allowed to cross; I was three. Although, I did have a romantic notion that my own two girls, with only 2.5 years between them, would share a room, secrets and giggles, the sleep preserver in me was not swayed. Sharing is a learned skill and can sometimes leave one sharer vulnerable to be woken during the night or earlier in the morning than they would wake themselves. However, if you are committed to room sharing (a) because you too are romantic or (b) space dictates, then here are some tips that might help.
- Room sharing works best if children are put together when they are already able to sleep through the night. That way, you won’t be worried about either child waking the other on an ongoing basis and potentially hooking out the waking child to prevent them waking the other and fuelling an unwanted sleep situation
- If one of your children is already a good sleeper, but one isn’t, then I might suggest that you temporarily remove the good sleeper, helping the poorer sleeper to improve and then reunite them and make the sharing work for you
- Have some ground rules, normally only one of the sharers is old enough to understand, so that is the child that you must explain the expectations and responsibilities, such as:
- No talking once the lights are out, or for example, when mum calls up the stairs once!
- No waking a person who is asleep (especially relevant in the morning when you have much less control than at bedtime)
- To begin with, it might be worth staggering bedtimes, but if your children are similar in age groups then one bedtime routine for them and into their cots/ beds
- Judge the situation. If it’s not working, but you really need it too then I often suggest to parents that I work with to look at putting up a divider screen to create the essence of individual space and prevent unwanted behaviour and sleep disturbances.
- Although I don’t generally subscribe to rewards for sleep, I might implement an incentive scheme to help your children sleep well together
As with everything give it time, sleep establishment can take up to 4 weeks plus depending on the issues, sometimes us Mums have to get creative to make a certain set of circumstances work. If you already have a good sleep foundation like regular bedtimes, established bedtime routines and well rested children then the process is much easier.