jetsetgreen

Monday, October 03, 2011

Advice on Sharing a Room?

Alright, Hive Mind, I need your ideas and advice.



The Problem:

Six months ago I put the boys in one room and into what Proximo calls bunka-beds. It was several months before Miss Lulu would be born so it would give them plenty of time to adjust to sleeping in the same space.

They have not adjusted well.

It turns out that EG is an early bird. He needs his sleep. He would prefer to go to bed early and get up in the awful early morning hours. He's chipper and with it in the morning. He can even coherently do homework (sometimes faster than if he tries it at night.) No matter what time he goes to bed, he's up early and ready for school.

Proximo is a night owl. (Oh, now that's a shocker.) He invents one million reasons to leave his bed. There is always one more drink, one more hug, something he forgot to say, has trouble sleeping, ran out of sheep to count. He sneaks out of bed and will sit behind the family room door until his breathing gives him away. He will sleep in mornings, and if he stays up late, he'll absolutely sleep in. He's a bit of a grump on the bright side of dawn.

Now, these two have the same 8pm bedtime. EG is exhausted and on his last fumes by this time of night. Proximo is just getting started. Proximo is sometimes literally bouncing off the walls. He's chatty. He won't stop trying to engage EG in conversation. EG is frustrated and begging him to settle down.

Conversely, while Proximo would be fine if he stayed up and slept in, EG waking up and leaving the room often wakes him up. Then he's grumpy, fussy, tantrum-y for the rest of the day.

So EG is often heard yelling in frustration at his brother, who is giggling and hanging all over furniture like a monkey, long after bedtime. Sometimes EG will be able to fall asleep anyway. They will exhaust each other several hours later. I thought it would be better by now, six months into this mess.

Yes, we have a bedtime routine. No, they don't usually have any screen time two hours before bed. We finish homework, engage in hygienic cleaning activities, and read a book or two together. Yes, we've tried wearing Proximo out. Just tonight he literally ran across BYU campus, rolled up and down hills, and raced his brother.  We eventually had to put Proximo to sleep in our room so EG could get to sleep in his. That can't be the answer, can it? We have three bedrooms, so the boys need to share.

What would you do? What have you done?

SAVE US HIVE MIND!

34 comments:

Amy said...

We have twin girls who have very different sleep needs but who refuse to not sleep in the same queen sized bed. And me, an only child who dreamed of having my very own sister that I could giggle under the covers with, refuses to step in and split them up. So, Jessica needs about 2 hours less per night than Katie. This translates into chatty Jessica at night and early bird Jessica begging Katie to get up and play with her on weekend mornings. Katie often comes out at night to tell us she can't sleep because Jessica won't stop talking. So, we've made a deal that no matter what time they go to bed, they have 20 minutes to talk about whatever they want after lights out. Then it's more talking. On really rough nights, I'll give Jessica flashlight priveledges to quietly read without bothering Katie. They are six so thats a new thing. I've even resorted to letting jessica play one nintendo game with her headphones on and Katie falls immediately asleep. And yes, there have been nights where Jessica has been allowed to come lay on the couch and snuggle with us so Katie can fall asleep. It's not a perfect system but it works. The problem in your case is you have a person who then needs to sleep in. I would make your early riser promise to silently leave the room and let his brother sleep and he can play with a special box of early morning toys that are only allowed as long as he let's his brother sleep. Or maybe there's a show he loves on demand or a DVD that he can only watch if his brother is allowed to sleep in the morning. I know it seems like a big pain but if they have to share then you are going to have to get creative and compromise your standards. It's about survival. Soon, they'll both be in all day school with more homework than you ever thought possible and they will both be living the life of the sleep deprived because oc sports, homework and dare I say it? Girls! We are both going to miss the nights of monkeys hanging from the bunk beds! Good luck! It sounds like you're trying everything you can. I don't think there is a perfect solution.

Karin said...

Hi,
We have 4 kids (2 boys and twin girls) and have done the room share once with the boys, once with the girls. What we found worked was separate bedtimes. Easy to do with the boys since they were different ages. The boys we used to do 1/2 an hour apart, the girls were about twenty minutes apart and we alternated who went first with the girls since they were the same age. Worked well for us!

La Yen said...

More than anything in the world, Jooj wants to share a room with Buster. I have no idea how this is going to pan out, but I think that we will end up making the room a sleeping-only zone. No toys or distractions, and everything else in a play room. Or something. I look forward to the hive responses.

Bea said...

Our daughters are 5 years apart and have until recently shared a bedroom (they are now 15 and 10). Even when the youngest was a baby this worked well--older one always managing to sleep through midnight feedings and baby gurgles. You might try putting your early sleeper (who may also sleep heavily) in with your baby. If early rising is a concern, explain to him how he can get out of bed and come snuggle with you or on the sofa with a book until others are ready to be awake. Good Luck!

sarah k. said...

First, just remember that our kids will grow up awesome, in spite of us. Then, I don't know. I've had people recommend that my boys be split up, so the up-late/up-early kid can let the sleeper sleep, but Derek feels so strongly about the boys having brother time. They've now been sharing a room for 5 years, and it's still not perfect. Noah still does "excuses" every single night, and Soren never does, but goes to sleep instead.

One thing that really helped was literacy. Now, Noah can stay up as late as he wants reading. When he was 5, we kept a coloring book and crayons by his bed. That worked for about a week. Now, we just keep him well-stocked with popular YA fiction.

FoxyJ said...

I still feel a bit guilty about this because I tried to make my older two share for about a year and it was awful. So now I have 3 kids in 3 rooms of their own and I feel like a decadent Western materialist.

I was going to suggest trying to have one share with the baby, preferably the early sleeper/early riser. Is he a solid enough sleeper that he'd sleep through any of her noise, and does he fall asleep quickly? That might actually work better for a while than having the boys share.

Reluctant Nomad said...

After years of similar battles, they now have their own rooms. I have no wisdom. Like always.

Chelsea said...

We are going through this very problem right now, except we are only going through it in our mind. We need to switch the boys into the same room, but just can't pull the trigger. The baby is coming soon, so it needs to be done. Michael STILL sleeps in his crib and it works well. There is a bed in the room that he also sleeps in, but on rare occasions. Preston also sleeps in a crib, so Michael will need to go full-time to the bed and Preston will go to his crib. Preston sleeps in, and Michael wakes up at 6 am. I'm seriously freaking out about it. There is also no way that I'm going to put them down for naps at the same time. They would never fall asleep. So, I'll have to have them in two separate rooms for nap time. Oh boy, I better get started.

the emily said...

We did the same thing to our boys (moved them in together a few months before baby girl was born). It took some adjusting but this is what we do: the one who needs sleep the most goes to bed first. For us, that happens to be our younger son Noah. He gets in bed at 7:45 and by the time our older son Isaac is done reading it's about 8:00 and he climbs in. Noah is almost always asleep by then, allowing Isaac to fall asleep in peace (unless Noah is snoring, then forget it). Something we also do is run a fan (a loud humidifier in the winter) for the white noise. That way small noises and tossings and turnings aren't quite as loud and noticeable to the older son, who is a lighter sleeper. Still, some nights they're up really late talking and laughing (and fighting) and we have bad days the next day. We just roll with it. I know it's a pain to put kids to bed at different times, but if EG is tired, put him to bed early and turn on some white noise to block out Proximo's loudness/rambunctiousness.

the emily said...

Also. I'm the youngest of six and never had to share a room (yes, the youngest is spoiled, get over it) until college and even still, 10 years into my marriage, I have a very hard time sharing a room--my husband falls asleep on the couch every night (his choice, not mine--he likes to watch TV as he falls asleep and comes to bed at like 2 am). So it may just be they're not cut out for sharing and one of them needs to be in with the baby.

TheOneTrueSue said...

My girls have always shared a room and we have the same issues. I agree with separate bedtimes. My girls are only 16 months apart, but Megan needs a LOT less sleep than Emma. If Emma doesn't get enough sleep she is impossible to deal with. For a long time I treated them as though they were the same age, but it has become increasingly clear that they are NOT. So I send Emma to bed at 8 and Megan to bed at 8:30. That gives Emma half an hour to fall asleep (and she almost always does) before Megan comes into the room.

And Megan knows that in the morning she needs to creep quietly out of the room so that she doesn't wake Emma. I know that's harder to enforce the idea of "creeping quietly out" with your littler guys though. Jake thinks that anything that doesn't involve a drum set is quiet.

It's really made a huge difference in how happy Emma is on a daily basis. Totally worth it.


In the summer and on weekends we are more lax, we let them go to bed at the same time so that they can talk and giggle and plot, but on school days, forget it.

soybeanlover said...

We have a family bedroom(no we aren't hippies, just Japanese), and I do staggered bedtimes. Baby at 6:30-7, 5 yr old at 7:30-8, and 2 yr old at 8-8:30. I do have to repeat the adage of "who's sleeping? Let's be quiet then", but generally it works. Middle child gets much needed mommy time, and eldest quietly leaves and hangs out with daddy( an sometimes mommy and baby sister) downstairs in the morning. We are also are toys in the bedroom house, so that helps. Bedroom is for sleep, and jumping on the bed only, kinda. Good luck.

Sharon said...

I was going to suggest letting one sleep with baby -- whichever will work best -- and revisit brothers sharing in a year or two when the differences may not be as stark. Or maybe just as stark but the two involved are older and perhaps more able to accomodate each other's sleeping habits.

Sharon said...

Oh... forgot to add that the sleeper could only sleep with the baby but continue to play, dress, etc. from the other room. Just a thought.

craftyashley said...

That is why we moved and got an extra bedroom. Sorry to be of absolutely no help whatsoever. Our early bird was making a total grump of our late sleeper. And I had had enough.

Deborah said...

I shared a room with my sister from the day I got home from the hospital until age 6 -- when I moved to share a room with my brother. Utter disaster, for the reasons you describe. After four months, I moved back in with sister until she went off to college. So I am proof that little babies can share a room with big siblings and both can turn out dandy.

Caroline said...

I split up my kids by sleeping habits. We used to have a girl room and a boy room. And now we have a morning person room and a not-morning person room.

And them also: the kid who stays up late should be on the bottom bunk because then when they get out of bed, it's much harder to be loud. On account of they should not be jumping on the ladders. ALSO: you can get a tent thing that goes around the bottom bunk and give him a flashlight and threaten him with certain death if you see him or hear him. Which is what I do to my children NIGHTLY. No really, I say, "I don't want to see you or hear you until tomorrow." and then I shut the door. And then I yell "I can hear you! Don't make me come up the stairs!" And then if I have to go up the stairs, then I kill them. Poof. Kill them dead. Then we do the same thing the next night.

Mandee said...

Melatonin and a DS with headphones for the night owl.

canadacole said...

Our girls have the same sleep problems and also insist on sharing a room. We eventually figured out that the ONLY way to do that and not have blood drawn was to have different bedtimes. Morning bird now goes to bed 1/2 earlier than she used to and is FINE with it. Night owl now goes to bed 1/2 hour later than SHE used to and thinks it's amazing that she gets to hang out with the grown-ups for that extra bit of time. The one on one time has been a bonus for her. We also gave her one of those lamps that clamps on the headboard and let her read for a bit even after she's gone up to bed with the warning that if she's cranky we take that away--it's been 6 months and so far so good. Good luck!

whitneyingram said...

I will make this quick.

They are 3 and 6. The older one gets put to sleep in my bed and little ones goes to sleep in his bed. When I go to bed, I sleep-walk 6 year old into his bed. We have been doing this for years and it has worked well.

Also, do your littles sleep with a box fan on to drown out noise? Maybe that would help your late sleeper stay asleep while early riser wakes up?

ali said...

for a while I was wondering if I was the only one with this hellish problem. We recently had to put our two boys in the same room as well in bunk beds, and it was so horrid I thought I was going to die. Needless to say, spanking did not help at all.

So, having not read any of your replies and not knowing if this was offered before, here is what helped us:

I've found that staggering the bedtimes helps tremendously, if one is asleep, usually the other one won't wake him up (it's helpful if you augment this approach with death threats to the one coming after the asleep one).

Also, our main problem was with the younger one getting out at all hours of the night as this was his first big kid bed, and so I ingeniously bought a tent (yes a camping tent) roughly the size of his mattress and put his mattress in it and attached the top to the bunk bed. We zip him in and put a small lock through the zipper pulls to keep him in. He loves it, actually, and his siblings are totally jealous.

Hopefully this helps, most of the time, we have to put the older one to bed before the younger one is asleep, but I reasoned that as long as he is secure in his tent, I don't care about the rest and the playing has been cut down drastically.

Good luck, and if you need details about the tent configuration email me.

ali said...

haha-- I just read Caroline's reply and she said almost the same thing. I guess there really aren't any new ideas ;)

Nielsens said...

We had the same situation. My husband and I split the difference. One gets the early sleeper to bed while the other spends special alone time with big bro. This has turned out to be crucial. Not much of a communicator, this is the only time of day he is capable of telling us how he really feels about things and growing up isn't holding much magic for him---who wants to grow up if it means less recess and more work? This soothes a bit of that and has really improved our interactions with him overall. That said, brother still wakes him too often in the morning but he is old enough that we can reason with him and give him perks to make up for it.

A Few Tacos Shy... said...

I agree with the staggered bedtimes, early riser on the bottom bunk, and fan for white noise suggestions. Usually works great for our two monkeys who could not be less alike in their sleeping habits.

Mary said...

Yeah, we are struggling with room sharing thing right now, too. Which is why my baby is being moved into my walk in closet. --Do you have a walk in closet? ;)

If not, staggered bedtimes makes life much easier with my two that share a room. The 3 year old is asleep by the time my 7 year old gets in bed. However, since your younger son might not give up in time to make that work, we have also resorted to letting one sleep in our bed and carrying them into their room when they are asleep. I mean, you do what you have to do.

Jennifer B. said...

Sell one of them?

Mojo said...

We put the boys in the same room a while ago and they definitely have different schedules. We stagger bedtimes as well and that has worked pretty well. If Proximo stays up later and EG needs to go to bed earlier, then experiment with putting EG to bed first. Kal is a night owl too and the later he's been up, the more wired he is. That is a sign to me that he's pretty tired. Maybe and I could be wrong, but it sounds like Proximo is running on what I like to term "tired energy." You could try a reverse experiment and put him to bed first? I have a friend who puts her girls in two separate rooms and then transfers one to the room after the other falls asleep. We've done that before as well. Just throwing out any idea your way.

I realized a while ago that I have to be okay with this process taking a while. Eventually, it will get better and it has over time, but I had to be patient and understanding to my children's situation. I'm like the Hulk when I am woken unexpectedly by a child, so this took a lot of self control not to get angry for them being kids. So I understand your frustration! Good luck:)

Eliza said...

Our older two shared beautifully for two years until the younger one moved to a big bed...then all bets were off. They had lots of fun every night but hardly any sleep and were so cranky during the day. We struggled through 6 months of that until I finally separated them...and it was so much better. They get along better during the day and sleep better at night.

Now we have a #3, like you (4 months old) who is still sleeping in our room for the most part, but I have been putting him occasionally in a crib in my daughter's room because she sleeps more soundly.

Flexibility is all I can say. Maybe something will work for a while, then it's time to try something new.

You do have bunk beds which would make splitting them up difficult unless they separate into twin beds. Our bunks separated into twins and they haven't been bunks for a good year or so now. Who knows if they ever will be again...

Hilary said...

We, at one point had 3 in the same room.
Now it's just 2, but we stagger bedtimes. And we also used white noise to keep the peace if someone woke up early.

Erin O. said...

I have no advice, but EG and I would TOTALLY get along.

The Tame Lion said...

Nodding my head in agreement!

jeri said...

White. Noise. Machine.

MissMel said...

EG shares with the baby and a white noise machine.

Mrs. Organic said...

What about putting the night owl down in the baby's room? Or vice versa? I have two of my girls that absolutely cannot share a room because they would NEVER sleep - they can't seem to stop talking. So we have weirdish sleeping arrangements.