December 27th, 2016. This was the night. Tonight, the crib Oliver had been sleeping in, next to our bed, was moving back to the nursery. The goal was to get through bed time routine. We would handle middle of the night feeds as needed. We finished bed time routine.
Silence. Complete silence.
After a few minutes, Penelope got up and walked to the side of the crib closest to her brother and I. “Hiiii” and leaned in for a kiss. I kissed her back and she laid back down. Oliver finished nursing, I put him down, and walked out of the pitch black room. Oliver woke up to nurse 3 times that night, Penelope didn’t hear us, and they both woke up at 6:30 am. Their first bedtime together. Perfect. Just perfect.
My babies have been successfully room sharing since Oliver was one month old. Of course not every night is as perfect as the first one. There are nights we hear Penelope shout “Hiiiiiiiiii Beeeeebbeee” or sing “ooooh ooooh” (part of her favorite Coldplay song) as soon as we walk out of the room, or nights Oliver takes a little bit longer to fall asleep or tries to wake up very early. Most nights though, both kids are in bed by 7:00pm and wake up around 6:30 am… sometimes 7:30 am. I would call that a success.
The room sharing success wasn’t all luck (although I thank the Sleep Fairy daily anyway haha). We did do a few things to prepare. We finished the shared nursery early so Penelope could get used to the new layout and extra crib. We didn’t want new nursery and sibling happening at the same time. We also decided we would be keeping her in the crib for as lonnng as possible. She isn’t able to climb out of it and is happy in there, no reason to add another transition/change. Nope. When she’s 2.5/3 years old we will reevaluate big girl bed status. We got a white noise machine, and reinforced good sleep habits by continuing and staying consistent with her bed time routine. In the summer, it was easy to have exceptions because of summer activities/festivals/travels, but as much as we could, we would stick to the whole milk-bath- pj’s -books-songs-bed.
Oliver slept in our room for his first month. The first two weeks were survival mode, and frankly, he slept wherever and whenever. At around 2 weeks, since we were doing bed time routine with Penelope anyway, Oliver started to tag along. He began bed time routine early in life. Most nights, he would fall asleep after bed time routine, wake up an hour or two later and continue this ’till the morning. As the days and weeks passed, that first sleep stretch got longer and longer. By the time he moved to the nursery, his first sleep stretch was about 3-5 hours, with two or three nursing sessions before it was morning again. Today, at 12 weeks old, he falls asleep on his own, in his crib, and is sleeping a minimum of 9.5+hour stretches at night, with a handful of 11.5 hour nights. I can feel some of you mentally throwing tomatoes at me. I would be too (haha). But really, part of it is just Oliver (because my daughter didn’t sleep through the night ’till waaay later), but I do believe starting bed time routine early did help him understand that the “big sleep” was coming.
I watch them nap in the day, and I feel their sense of safety and security in each other’s company. As they have gotten used to falling asleep with each other’s noises (grunts, sneezes, whines, etc.) they almost seem to need that to fall asleep, but are also deeper sleepers for it. During day time naps, this is particularly helpful, as I can get whoever wakes up first (with a 95% success rate) out of the room without the other one waking up. Bed time routine is easier too, especially when doing it on your own (which admittedly, I’ve only done a few times. Thank you Husband ). Having everything in the same room; both sets of pjs, diapers, creams, plus both kids in the same space (even if one is in the crib while the other one is being changed) is easy and wonderful. You’re only doing bed time once too, as you have both kids at the same time (win!).
I know very well that room sharing isn’t for everyone, but for anyone considering it – it is both doable and wonderful. It has worked out so well for us and am so glad we decide to do it. Something about watching my babies fall asleep in the same room, and being able to share a beautiful state of peace together makes me so happy. And the feeling of walking into the nursery in the morning and seeing both of them smiling at me- amazing.