There are times as a parent when you feel like you’re the first parents to ever do something, even though you know it’s not true. Tom and I weren’t the first people to have two children, but when Mary Virginia was born, the waters were so dark and uncharted, that it felt like it. Maybe we weren’t the first people, but everyone else who’d tried just hadn’t survived. We’re also not the first people to try to teach a kid to share, or deal with puddles of pee on the floor of Chick-fil-A. But when it happens it feels completely horrible, like the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone.
But it has happened before and then some; we are not the only ones.
What I’m getting at is, we’re planning to switch up sleeping arrangements. Before Mary Virginia was born, we started planning to put both kids in the same room. But now she’s 16 months old and I still don’t have the nerve. Both my kids are terrible sleepers. Mary Virginia just started sleeping through the night maybe last week. And David? David still wakes up a few times a week with a bad dream or needs his blankets adjusted. Whenever we change something, I get scared. Especially since, in the past week or so, I’ve gotten a few full nights of sleep for the first time since June 2013. And you know what? It was really great.
What happens when one kid doesn’t fall asleep immediately? Or wakes up screaming several times a night? What happens when one baby wakes up at 5:30 a.m. and the other wants to sleep until 7? What about when one of them gets sick and I’m in their room six times taking temperatures and changing sheets? When we turn out the lights and close the door, will the kids start plotting against Tom and me?
I have lots of close friends whose young kids sleep in the same room and it’s completely successful. It’s so successful, in fact, that it’s a non-issue. Like, when you meet them, it’s not one of the first things they tell you. “Hi, I’m Jane. My kids share a room, so just keep that in mind as we converse.”
And, I actually shared a room with my sister until she moved away to college. And even though back then I could have written a 12-page essay on why I deserved a wing of the house to myself with enough privacy for my teenage brooding, in hindsight I really liked what it taught me — about sharing space, being considerate, and how to whisper late into the night so mom and dad couldn’t hear us.
My friends whose kids sleep in the same space have told me that there might be a learning curve, but eventually the kids don’t wake each other up. They promise. And as crazy as it sounds, I’ve already sort of seen that with my own kids (their rooms now are close enough that they can hear each other crying, even with sound machines).
But it’s still completely scary.
I’d love advice, or even a pep talk from people who’ve survived this sort of transition. It’s a non-issue, right? I’m not going to miss a month of sleep, right?
I’m trying to be optimistic, but just for the next couple weeks, a warning: My name is Amanda and my kids share a room, so just keep that in mind as we converse.