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Hey, hey!

I'm Michele DiSpirito

I've been where you are.

Tired. No. Exhausted! Frustrated and confused as to what to do with an adorable little one that just. won't. sleep.

I'm a mom to three boys ages 6 and under, wife to Kyle for 17 years, and all about getting some good sleep for us all! While struggling to make sleep consistent and a reality with my oldest, I scoured the internet for answers and was left more frustrated and confused than when I started. I wanted a clear path; someone I trusted to just tell me what to do, how to do it, and when. What I wanted was what I'm here to be for you today - a Pediatric Sleep Consultant.

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Room-Sharing Guide: 5 tips for Room-Sharing Children

[tap here for the SHOW NOTES]

Sometimes it just makes sense to have your children share a room. Other times, it’s the only option. Either way, it can be a little nerve-wracking moving your great sleepers into the same room! But, room-sharing doesn’t have to be at the expense of your children’s sleep - or yours! This episode shares the 5 biggest tips I have for your children to share a room and sleep well!

You don’t want to miss:

  • The biggest thing to ensure great sleep for room-sharing kids!

  • How to handle bedtime.

  • Ways to handle talking, night-wakings, and morning wake-ups.

PLUS, suggestions on how to handle other common struggles with room-sharing

Links and resources:

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Did you share a room with a sibling growing up? Some homes only allow for siblings to room-share; some families just want to have siblings room-share. Either way, there are a few things you can do to allow your great sleepers to stay that way, no matter where they sleep. Here are five tips to help make the transition to sharing a room as smooth as possible.

1. Start with independent sleepers.

The most common fears with having children share a room are that no one will sleep and/or once one is asleep the other will wake them. Those fears are eased by knowing that your children know how to sleep well without the help of anyone else. This gives a lesser chance of one waking in the night and inadvertently waking the other indefinitely.

If your soon-to-be room-sharing children aren’t independent sleepers yet, work with them while they’re in their own space using a plan that you’re most comfortable with before making the move. If the only option is for your children to room-share, it is possible to teach them to sleep independently while sharing a room, it will just take a little more time, patience, and strategic planning.

Don't have independent sleepers and would like help formulating a plan? I'm here for you!

2. Strategically arrange their room for optimal sleep.

Even though your children will be sharing a room, they should each have their own sleep space. If you’re starting with independent sleepers there’s a little more leniency on bed placement and room setup. For example, it’ll be a smoother transition for independent sleepers to move to bunk beds.

But, independent sleepers or not, I recommend (at least initially) having their beds on opposite sides of the room with a sound machine between them. If you have one sleeper that tends to wake in the night or wakes earlier than the other, place their bed closest to the door for easy access if you need to come in.

You can use this Multiples Room Checklist to help you prepare their room!

3. Set your expectations appropriately.

Set your kids up for success by not only preparing their space but by preparing them for what’s ahead. But, before talking with them, nail down your expectations and how you want this to work. Filter those expectations through your children’s capabilities and adjust accordingly. Then talk with them about the boundaries and any possible consequences.

Know that your expectations will be hard for them to meet the first few nights. Especially if your children are excited about the move, they’ll have a harder time settling once you leave. This doesn’t mean you need to lower your expectations, but there can be some grace involved and consequence follow-through when needed.

4. Prepare all parties - lay down the boundaries.

Young or older, fill your children in on what you expect of them and how the evenings, nights, and mornings will go. As Neil Strauss so eloquently said,

“Unspoken expectations are premeditated resentments.”

Some logistics to think about and possible ways to handle them:

Will their bedtimes be the same or staggered? If their bedtimes are the same you can combine their routine. For siblings with staggered schedules, the child with the later bedtime will need to have most of their bedtime routine done outside of their room with only tucking in and snuggles done quietly in their room.

How will talking/playing/giggling be managed? Let them know you understand their excitement for sharing a room and you’ll allow for some pillow talk, but when you say it’s time for silence (maybe 5-10 minutes past the time you leave), there’s to be no more talking or interacting with each other. If they push that boundary, choose a fitting consequence. An idea is that each time you need to intervene they’ll each lose a lovey (even if it’s just for a few minutes initially).

How will night wakings be handled? What if one wakes and needs you? Let them know you can hear them. (I’m all for baby monitors, even just the sound-only kind, indefinitely.) If one wakes in the night, the other doesn’t need to worry and can roll over and go back to sleep.

What if one wakes before the other in the morning? Having some sort of toddler clock (I like the Hatch!) can be helpful in this situation so they know when it’s ok to get up. Before the clock gives the ok, they’re to not wake each other.

However you decide to handle these things, role-playing and routine cards (grab some for free!) are helpful in solidifying these boundaries for children.

5. Stay persistent and consistent.

Giddiness and boundary-pushing can be expected, but your consistency with your boundaries will bring you all to successful room-sharing!

Depending on your specific circumstances, it can take upwards of a month for any and all bumps to smooth out. But, usually within the first week, you’ll notice improvement.

As with anything with children, having an open dialogue and modifying where needed are beneficial for everyone. For example, if you feel that your children are ready to share a bunk bed from the get-go but a week or so in they’re still staying up talking well past bedtime and your consequences aren’t showing effective, it’s ok to make adjustments. It’s ok to tell them that this doesn’t seem to be working and if they can’t get to sleep while sharing a bunk bed, you’ll separate them (or whatever you find will work for you all).

That to say, stay persistent and consistent, but also know that you’re not locked into what you decide for night one.

Just do what you say you’re going to do until that doesn’t work anymore; then say something else and do that.

how's that for a quote by yours truly?

In Conclusion

It can feel daunting to move your great sleepers into the same room; no one wants to miss out on great sleep! But know that, though, initially the move may bring some hiccups to your great sleepers, with these tips those hiccups won’t last for long. Your independent sleepers can sleep anywhere when you provide them with the right space, boundaries, and consistency!

Do your kids share a room? Are there any tips you would add to this list? Do you need help? I’m here for you!


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