Thursday, 9 July 2015

Transitions - Kids Sharing a Room

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek".
Barack Obama
Both of our kids have always had their own bedrooms. Both of them have been in their own rooms once they turned a week old. They have never really had to share a room, except for holidays, which were usually an unmitigated disaster.

However, as we were moving continents, and were going to have to live in holiday lets for a while, we knew that it would be easier to rent two bedroom holiday lets, rather than three bedrooms. Plus it would be much cheaper, a necessity when you are applying for a mortgage and trying to buy a house.

So we knew that the kids would have to share a room. Eventually we decided to move them in together while we were still in our apartment in Dubai. This was because we wanted to keep the surroundings slightly familiar, hoping it would help the transition, and because we needed to paint Miss S’s room, and she couldn’t go back into her bedroom for at least 24 hours after it was painted.

The transition was actually easier than expected. For that ,we are extremely relieved. We have had friends whose little boy did not adapt to sharing a bedroom with his siblings, and it has created a bit of a headache for all concerned. We were fully expecting that to be the case with Miss S and Mister L, as they had never had to share before.

We found the transition similar to the transition that happened when we brought Mister L home from the hospital. Initially Miss S was disturbed by Mister L’s cries, but after a week or so she seemed to sleep through them.

The same sequence happened when we moved them in together. While Mister L can, and often does, sleep through the night, there is the inevitable teething to be done. Miss S now does no more than stir and roll over when he cries and we can take him out of the room and deal with him, before going back into their room to resettle him for sleep, without really disturbing Miss S.

There are a few things we have learnt about having them successfully share a room:

White Noise:

Mister L is a much lighter sleeper than Miss S. He always has been, and it doesn’t seem to be settling down anytime soon. Initially everytime Miss S turned over, it would disturb Mister L.

While not so much a problem in the middle of the night, when we were trying to get them to sleep, any movement during the transfer into the cot, often meant Mister L would wake up crying and we’d have to start the settling all over again.

So we upped the volume on the white noise a little. We also placed it a little closer to Mister L’s cot, and between his cot and Miss S’s bed. We found that the background noise was enough to make the noise of Miss S coughing or turning over irrelevant to Mister L.

Separating them:

They can, and often do, fall asleep together, but it’s not our preferred choice. Obviously if Gary is working late, then I have to put them to bed together.

We have found that the best way is to settle Miss S into her bedroom, with a book and cuddles, before leaving the room. Mister L gets his milk and gets settled in our bedroom and then we bring him into their bedroom for a final settle and then transfer into his cot.

Miss S is really good at keeping quiet while we do that, even if she is still awake. I know that’s not the case for a lot of toddlers, so many people settle the younger baby into their bed first and then bring the older toddler in.

Because Mister L is a much lighter sleeper, the door opening, the additional light, and settling Miss S into bed is pretty likely to wake him.

Although we are getting to the stage where Mister L is getting too big to settle down to sleep on us, and needs to go down into the cot awake. It’s been rather hit and miss with this, and it’s difficult to gauge whether he is ready to go down awake, and settle for sleep, or whether he needs a little more cuddling.

If he’s not ready to go down, it usually results in him crying, which usually gets Miss S talking again, something we really don’t need!

At some point we may need to switch things around again so that Mister L goes to bed earlier than Miss S, so that he can get used to settling himself for bed, and then we can bring Miss S in later on, once he’s asleep.

Putting Mister L’s Cot away from the door:

I had originally planned on putting Mister L’s cot nearest to the door, so that we can quickly go in and get him if he wakes during the night. This hasn’t been a great success, because we’ve been in older houses with creaking doors and latches. So as soon as you open the door, he’s up and crying.

We’ve found that by swapping their beds over, and having Miss S nearer the door, Mister L is less affected by the door being opened and closed. As Miss S doesn’t really get disturbed by Mister L crying, or us going in to get him, it seems to be the better option for them.

In fact, it’s gone so well that Miss S has asked for them to stay in the same room when we move into our new house (wherever that may be!). She seems to like the company, and Mister L hasn’t really been that unsettled by it, so I think we will keep them in together.

Whilst they don’t have to share when we have our new home, I quite like the idea of them being company for each other. It’s lovely to see them enjoying being in the same room. Quite often I can hear them chatting over the monitor long before I go into them in the morning.

What has worked for you, when putting your kids in the same room?