Throughout pretty much my entire second pregnancy, one thing – of the hundreds – that I worried about incessantly was having my two sons share a bedroom. We only have a three bedroom house which means a room for Mommy and Daddy, a room for the office (a requirement of my job since I work primarily from home), and a room for the kiddos.
Moving was not on the table, and the layout of our house made a potential addition impossible. Even alternative options such as cornering off a portion of the master bedroom for a small office were not feasible (hey – we live in a small house!)
So what to do?
I couldn’t fathom the boys sharing a room. The horror! Isn’t every child entitled to their own bedroom?
Beyond that, what about the logistics? We don’t keep babies in our room for very long, so what if the toddler was trying to sleep and the baby woke up crying? Would we have a double meltdown on our hands? Worse still, what if the toddler taunted or woke the baby?
But the weeks went on, and at some point we were forced to face the fact that there was no other option. So the boys would have to share, at least for a while. I just hoped that one day they would find it in their hearts to forgive us.
We decorated as best we could, keeping the two cribs strategically separated to prevent book-throwing (our toddler forgoes a teddy bear to instead sleep with about 40 books each night). We divvied up the closet space in half for each. And picked up another dresser. It would have to do.
Fast forward 11 months and now, I have to say, room-sharing was the best thing we could have done for them! In fact, should we move to a larger house with an extra bedroom, I would continue to have them share a room. Why?
- They’ve learned to tune each other out. This, my friends, is something that will continue to benefit us for years to come. All my worries about one waking the other up? Completely moot. Within a week of sleeping in the same room, my toddler had learned to sleep through crying, screaming, lights on, lights off, feedings in the rocking chair right next to his crib, smelly diapers, and general raucous while we tended to all things Baby. In fact, during those early weeks I was a bit worried about him – and would gently tap him just to make sure he was actually okay… and he was. The baby, similarly, adjusted quickly. Tantrums? Crying? Banging on the wall? “Reading” books? Nothing phased him. At worst, he would startle, take a deep breath, and fall back asleep.
- They comfort each other. Perhaps the cutest thing I hear on the baby monitor, to this day, is my toddler comforting his little brother. If the baby begins crying, and my toddler is still awake, I will soon hear him with his little high-pitched voice of concern: Don’t cry… It’s okay… Mommy will be coming soon… Are you hungry? The baby, for his part, comforts the toddler in a different way. At times when the toddler is tantrum-ing in his room, I will hear the baby start to laugh (why can’t I have the same response??) This is effective at often stopping the toddler mid-tantrum to ask what is funny and why he is laughing; and then forgetting the tantrum altogether.
- Mess/smells/dirt are confined to a single room. A wonderful silver lining indeed! Two boys = double the mess, double the dirt, double the stinky diapers. How nice to be able to shut the door to one room to block it all out. And to only clean one room with eventually two boys helping.
- They are bonding. The highest quality time the boys spend together (read: when they are not fighting over toys or for attention) is when they are in their room alone together. We do keep them both in cribs until we trust that the toddler won’t throw his heavy Tonka trucks into his brother’s crib, knocking him out. But they both walk over to the corner of their cribs to see each other and communicate. The toddler “reads” books to his brother, and the baby claps in appreciation. The baby pulls down the baby monitor, and the toddler laughs with delight. Half the time I don’t even know what they’re doing, but I hear one laugh, then the other, then some banging, then more laughter. As long as they’re not killing each other, I am grateful for the bonding opportunity.
- All supplies in one place. This wouldn’t have occurred to me except I was recently at a friend’s home as she tended to her son in his room. She couldn’t find his hat and was looking, looking, looking until it was finally reclaimed in her daughter’s room. I, for one, will never have that problem. Sure, there may be an item that is misplaced within the room – but it is only one room to search vs. multiple.
- They’re forced to figure it out. Now that I’ve gotten beyond the hardship I’ve forced my poor boys to endure with sharing a room, I’ve begun to embrace it. I can’t seem to find when the law was implemented mandating separate bedrooms for all children. Look at the Brady Bunch boys – three to a room! And they all turned out okay. Maybe it’s not a bad thing to prevent the option of escape into one’s own territory (cue slamming doors). Maybe learning how to share and negotiate while being considerate of other human beings in tight quarters isn’t such a bad thing after all.
So if you are (or will be) in a similar situation, don’t stress it! I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying about what ended up being a non-issue and, in fact, a benefit.
Now off to look for bunk beds….