If you think that having your children room share sounds like an impossible task, I was right there with you. We transitioned our girls to room sharing when they were 22 months and four years old. Our third child was on the way and we had been sharing the master bedroom with our toddler, Ellie, for her entire life. The thought of trying to get our girls to sleep in the same room seemed like a joke, but here are the things that worked for us, turning sibling room sharing into a beautiful reality.
Talk it Up
We made sure the girls, especially our oldest, Faith, knew this was coming. Faith doesn’t deal with change too smoothly, so this step was important for her. She had a new bed, with a trundle underneath that she slept in for months before we actually moved Ellie in. We told her multiple times that someday Ellie would use that extra bed. A few days before the move we added matching sheets to the trundle bed for Ellie which was exciting for both of them. We made it something that the whole family was eagerly anticipating.
Commit to Ten Days
In all of my sleep battles with the girls, I have noticed that the toughest part of the fight lasts three days. If you can push through those first three days, you can go the distance with whatever new routine you are implementing. Now, the first three days are not just nights. We are talking about some cranky, overtired kids and adults throughout the day. So choose your timeline wisely and be realistic about what life changes your children might be going through.
After making it through the first three days, the girls still didn’t see this as a permanent arrangement. That is why I say to commit to ten days. This allows you to see what the new routine looks like during weekdays, as well as weekends. By ten days, some of the initial complaints and resistance to the changes may have waned. After this trial period, re-evaluate which pieces of the routine need to be adjusted or if maybe now is just not the right time for the move into room sharing. My youngest took about five nights to be completely sold on the idea and has never looked back. Faith took a bit more convincing.
Use a Reward Chart
Adding a reward chart has been huge for our oldest. She had been increasing her night waking and was fighting the bedtime routine. We introduced her to a twenty day reward chart and things shifted immediately. She earned her hearts on the chart by leaving her room only for bathroom breaks until the sun came up. I made sure to tell her, “Sometimes you need mom and dad more than you need a heart and that is okay.” Like me, she can be a bit hard on herself, so I wanted to keep the shame and guilt to a minimum.
While the biggest reward was at the twenty day mark, we gave her an achievable goal of five nights where one of the hearts was highlighted. When she reached that highlighted heart after five nights, she got a special date with her dad. This chart was the biggest game changer for us. It empowered my girl, who resists change, to persist long enough that the new routine became a habit.
I hope these tips give you the confidence to move in the direction of sibling room sharing, if it is right for your family. No matter what the details of your specific routine, I think you can apply these principles to help you and your family succeed. If you are interested in the actual steps of our bedtime and naptime routine, let me know in the comments. I’d be happy to share what works for us!
Thanks for stopping by,