The Ups and Downs of Room Sharing

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My husband and I have three kids in a three-bedroom house. If you do the math, you know that two of the kids must be sharing a room. Before having our third baby, this made me nervous. So nervous, in fact, that our third baby ended up sleeping in our room for the first nine months of her life — much longer than the other kids did. My middle child was still in a crib at the time, so I was too afraid to disrupt his sleep by putting him in with his older sister, and I also couldn’t imagine putting the baby in with either one of her older siblings when she was still so little. So, we waited. As it turns out, the adjustment went much better than I expected. I shouldn’t have been so nervous about the ups and downs of room sharing.

The Logistics

When my youngest was eight months old, my husband and I knew it was time to move her out of our room. At first, we tried putting her crib in my then 5-year-old’s room. It didn’t go well for various reasons, so back to our room she went. A month later, we decided to try again, moving my 3-year-old into his big sister’s room and giving the baby her own room.

My 3-year-old was still in a crib at the time, so we decided to transition to a big bed at the same time. This worked well for us because he was excited about something new. We bought a trundle bed for the older two to share, and the baby took over the crib in her brother’s room.

The Ups

I wondered if anyone would get any sleep once we made the transition, but it turns out there are a lot of positives to room sharing.

Fewer nightmares/nighttime wake-ups. My oldest has struggled with nightmares and broken sleep for most of her life, but having her brother in her room has positively impacted her sleep. Now she has a friend in her room to comfort her and vice versa. It has been very sweet to watch!

Faster bedtime routine. For a while, our bedtime routine was dragging on for an hour, as each of our kids wanted different books to read and songs sung in their respective rooms. Once they moved in together, the process was streamlined. Around 7 pm, we all go into their room and read a book, say our prayers, and the lights go off. If my daughter isn’t tired yet, which is sometimes the case, she has a flashlight and a couple of books in her bed, and she knows she’s allowed to read until she falls asleep. She hasn’t mastered reading in her head yet, but my son will sleep right through it!

Easier travelers. Since our kids are already sharing a room at home, sharing a bed or room on vacation is no big deal to them. We travel quite a bit, so I’m thankful that the adjustment we made at home has also been helpful when we’re away!

No moving is required. We considered moving to a four-bedroom house before our youngest was born, but it wouldn’t have been the most practical decision. Thankfully our oldest’s room is big enough for two kids, and going the trundle bed route allows the kids to have more floor space when the bed is pushed in. This won’t work forever, but it does while the kids are little.

The Downs

Although room sharing has gone pretty well in our house, there are a few negatives at times.

Early morning wake-ups. Before sharing a room, my son was my best sleeper. It wasn’t unusual for him to sleep in until 8 am. Unfortunately for him, his big sister doesn’t require as much sleep and is often up by 6 am. Although we occasionally get lucky, and one doesn’t wake the other, they usually get up together. This has resulted in less sleep for the whole family and can be particularly hard for my son around 2 pm when he has reached his limit for the day and doesn’t want to nap.

Goodbye nap time. My son, although four, has napped consistently every day of his life until this school year. Like mother, like son — he requires a lot of sleep. Unfortunately, once he moved into a room with his sister, he realized that she was not actually sleeping during nap time, and he did not want to nap either. I was able to get him to nap during the week for a while, but with his sister home more frequently for school breaks, sick days, and snow days, his nap time seems to be gone.

Less alone time. As my kids get older, I can tell that they crave time alone more often. I know both would probably love to have their own space to read books or play with trucks, but right now, if one goes in their room to be alone, the other usually follows. I remind myself that this is part of having a bigger family, and my kids will be more flexible because of it!

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