Our best sleeper is suddenly our worst (and other horror stories of toddler room sharing)

For a long time, my hubby and I have said we would love having a tiny house like these. Our only request would be a small, almost closet sized room for each kid with a loft style bed and dresser/desk combo underneath. Last Summer we rented a cabin in the Outer Banks, NC and it was tiny. And functional. And lovely. Less mess, more forced togetherness. I can dig it.

Now, the house we owned in PA was gorgeous, 2400 square feet and had four bedrooms (and a pool and a two car garage and…I’ll stop now so I don’t feel a tiny bit sad for my old self). At the time, we had my husband’s niece living with us and my daughter (yay!), and Champ wasn’t born yet, so we had three kids sharing two bedrooms. The boys shared brilliantly. Never a problem. At all.

Our NY rental house is smaller than our PA house, but in a less functional way than the tiny houses and certainly without a small space for each child. When we rented it, I thought “Hey! This brings us one step closer to our small-house-love, and who cares if there is one less bedroom…the boys share beautifully already.”

Enter premature baby brother and night terrors for the oldest boy. Even though my daughter moved to live with her Father around the time Champ was born, two bedrooms to share between three boys under four (and sometimes an eight year old girl), has proven to be a problem. We have had long stretches where everyone slept pretty well.

Then this winter happened, and my kids got sick left and right. Champ decided that he should wake up every night at least once; even if he felt well it was a habit now. Against all of my better judgement, every night, I swooped in and moved him to a portacrib downstairs. Our middle guy, Jude, was the best sleeper (and probably the one that needs it the most) and if Champ’s screaming woke him up, that would be a real problem.

So, besides having my sleep interrupted every night (which yes, probably contributed to this), I thought we found a good temporary solution while we waited for Champ to sleep through the night again.

I thought it was a brilliant idea…until Saturday morning around 5:30am when we heard a loud thud downstairs. Champ figured out how to climb out of the portacrib. I’ve never even seen him try this…not even when he’s playing “babies” in it with his brothers. Had. No. Idea. It. Was. Coming. I hate it when I’m unprepared!

Saturday night, when Champ started crying, we moved Jude to Carl’s room. It was around 4am. Jude never went back to sleep and consequently, neither did Carl. They played “quietly” (as quietly as four year old and three year old boys can), and BH and I nodded off but a few times during the next three hours. We were all exhausted Sunday.

Sunday night, we tried a new plan. Before Mommy and Daddy went to bed, we moved Jude to Carl’s room. The thought was that if we moved him after sleeping only a few short hours, he would stay asleep. We figured our mistake was waiting until almost 4am the night before (since Jude had been asleep for more than 9 hours at that point and probably felt rested enough to play at the time). The move went well…not a peep from anyone (not even Champ)…until four o’clock in the morning again! Jude was awake and ready to play. WTH?

This has happened every time we have tried to put Jude in Carl’s room. My only guess is that Carl’s room isn’t quite as dark and there are things within reach (like lamps), that make it obvious he could play if he wants to. Ironically, Champ slept all night. Not a peep. First time in a month. What gives? Maybe Jude makes small noises in his sleep that were waking up Champ before? Maybe Champ woke up, discovered he was alone, and decided it wasn’t worth yelling if no one was there? I don’t know!

For now, I’ve decided to keep Champ and Jude in their room together tonight. I figure if Champ yells and wakes up Jude, maybe Jude will realize how crappy it is when someone wakes you up and they will both grow out of this? ;)

Well, internets…I have 24 hours until Lizzy comes home for Spring Break (yay!!). If you have any nuggets of wisdom please share.

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2 Comments to “Our best sleeper is suddenly our worst (and other horror stories of toddler room sharing)”

  1. That is rough for sure! I’m convinced that lack of sleep is linked to insanity and it sure makes a mom feel helpless when things just don’t go smoothly at night.

    You are bound to get a ton of differing opinions when it comes to the best way to get children to sleep at night. Next to nursing, it’s probably one of the opinion-heavy topics in the parenting world. My advice is to just do whatcha gotta do and don’t feel the need to defend your choices.

    That being said, kids develop negative sleeping habits much faster than they develop positive ones. Swooping in (while tempting) is probably not the best plan. I don’t really consider myself in the die-hard camp of making kids cry it out until they pass out and go to sleep. However, they’ll know if you’re anxiously awaiting their 4am wake up time. Learning to go back to sleep on their own is important at any age.

    My boys have shared a room since my younger son was in a toddler bed. When he was born we had the space for a separate nursery but since then we haven’t had the availability for separate rooms. It’s funny because when you don’t separate rooms as an option, you find a way to make it work. Sick nights, middle of the night wake ups, and even fighting siblings…when you have no other option you just work it out.

    On the other hand, I remember growing up when my parents let my brothers try sharing a room. It lasted an entire 24 hours. As soon as the first fight broke out, my mom decided they were too different and needed their own space. There was another room for my younger brother to move to so there wasn’t much motivation to make it work out.

    This is the way we worked out bedtimes when my boys were little. My youngest went into the shared room first and we put him to bed. We gave enough time for him to go to sleep. Then my oldest son would quietly be taken to bed a little later. He knew he had to be quiet so he didn’t wake up little brother. Then they usually woke up at the same time in the morning. They were slightly older than your munchkins sound so we could explain that older brother would be coming to bed in a little bit. Being together at night has always seemed comforting for the two of them.

    I wish you all the best getting it figured out. Don’t let the little cuties get the best of you. If all else fails….take a NAP! :-)

    • Thank you, Faith, for your wonderful reply!

      “I’m convinced that lack of sleep is linked to insanity”

      I am too! Now that I’m not ingesting caffeine in any form (apparently decaffeinated is not the same as
      caffeine-free), I am even more aware of the sheer exhaustion when the kids don’t sleep well.

      Interestingly enough, we have problems with waking up too early, but bedtime is **usually** a breeze! I have been tempted to push bedtime back, but haven’t for two reasons:

      1. They fall asleep easily at their current bedtimes
      2. I’m worried they will still wake each other up and be even more exhausted because they haven’t been asleep as long!

      Last night, I put Jude (3) and Champ (20mo) back in the same room. Again, just before 4am, Champ started screaming. I didn’t get him. Just as he was winding down (twenty painful/sad minutes later), Jude woke up and started yelling at Champ to be quiet. You can imagine how well the rest of the morning went, but let’s just say no one went back to sleep!

      Tonight I’m trying yet another strategy. Because Jude sleeps beautifully in his own room (when Champ doesn’t wake him), but poorly in Carl’s room (I think because he can reach the light and the room isn’t as dark?), I’m going to put Carl in with Jude AND Lizzy in there too. Then I will put Champ in Carl’s room for a couple of nights or until he remembers what it’s like to sleep through the night. I really hope it helps!

      Thanks again for your help :)

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