How do you get toddlers to fall asleep in the same room?
January 20, 2011 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Trying so hard to figure out how you get two toddlers to share a room and it's HARD!

My family of 4 lives in a two bedroom townhome, so having their own rooms isn't an option. Or an option in the foreseeable future. Their ages are 4 (boy) and 2 (girl) and they have a very good relationship with each other.

To give you some back story, my husband works third shift- 4 days on and 3 days off. On his off days we put our son in our room to sleep for naps and bedtime and our daughter in their room. However when daddy has to work they both get put in the same room for naps and bedtime. I know that the back and forth isn't helping, but we go crazy after 3 hrs of running up and down the stairs telling them to be quiet.

It's especially hard for me when my husband is at work, cause it's just me dealing with them both and they can outlast me! By the time they fall asleep, all of us are angry, tired and extremely stressed out.

Our daughter slept with us in our room till she was 1 years old, so maybe had they slept together from the get-go it would be different for them. To make matters worse, she's now in a "Big Girl" bed and can get out whenever she pleases. So we have that problem too.

I was wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience and triumphed or is this going to go on forever till we can separate them? I know that kids have been sharing rooms since time began, but how does it work? I don't care if they want to talk to each other, sing songs to each other or maybe get a book for the other if need be, but it's the screaming in excitement, playing, jumping around, and all around ornery things conceivable that need to stop.
I hate them falling asleep thinking Mommy and Daddy are angry individuals and me feeling guilty all night for it coming down to spankings. Please help me AskMe and help my family regain it's night time sanity!
posted by Sweetmag to Human Relations (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You pretty much need to stick to a routine. You should probably keep your son in your room, and your daughter in her room. But keep them separated at bedtime - we have to do this with our sons, who are 2 and 8. The 8-year-old will get his little brother really wound up around bedtime, which is bad. So he sleeps in his own room, and little brother sleeps with us.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:46 PM on January 20, 2011

Can your girl go to bed a little earlier and then sneak your big boy into bed later when she is asleep?

We're just trying this "tape trick" with our girls (3 and 6, with bedrooms opposite each other) - three marks on the floor with tape showing what angle the door is at. Each time they jump out of bed or leave the room the door moves one more notch towards closed. It has worked really well so far.
posted by slightlybewildered at 6:48 PM on January 20, 2011

I put the younger one down first and time it so that the older one goes down after he's already asleep. Having nobody awake to play with helps older kid settle down, and heavy consequences if he wakes up younger kid keep him quiet.

If I put them down at the same time it's just a nightmare.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:49 PM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Is there any way to separate them just when it's time to go to sleep? You could put a sleeping bag or an extra toddler bed somewhere downstairs, make the kids go to sleep separately and then move the downstairs kid to the bedroom. (Or let one go to sleep in your room and then move him when he's asleep) Or else, let the four year old have a slightly later bedtime - put the 2 year old to bed and when she's asleep, send the 4 year old to the room to lie down and be quiet. (My kids are two years apart and they used to fall asleep on the sofa and then I'd move them to their shared room. Then, at some point they decided on their own that they didn't like that and they changed to putting themselves to bed in their room happily.)

If they are bribeable children, you could make a sticker chart for good quiet bedtimes that adds up to a prize for the kids. One of mine learned to stay in her bed all night for a sticker stuck to the wall each night that added up to some bigger prize. (My other two kids are not so easy to bribe.)
posted by artychoke at 6:54 PM on January 20, 2011

Is it worth it to you to invest in two weeks of consistency in order to get peace? That's about how long it took me to train mine at that age to go to sleep and not act like howler monkeys.

If they need to share a room then they need to share a room.

And yes, probably a very good idea to have two separate bedtimes at least for a bit.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:57 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lots of good ideas already, but I want to say that we also had a hard time with our two older ones sharing a room. We tried over and over again (not days, but for months at a go) and got nowhere. Then at the ages of 5 and 3 they could do it, and now they are 6 and 4 and things are great. That doesn't help for the problem now, but there is hope. Goodluck!
posted by 58 at 7:16 PM on January 20, 2011

I can't stress the consistency angle hard enough. Have a routine before bedtime. I know it's hard when you have dishes to do, checkbook to balance, bills to pay - but there is a huge payoff to having some quieting down time before bed. Read to them. Get them in their jammies, brush teeth, then read something simple to them. Sit in a nice comfy chair with them where they can see the pictures in the book.

I read Bernstein Bears so much I wanted to scream. Goodnight Moon, Dr. Suess, and a slough of other titles. Juni B Jones is good for older kids (6-8). Little Critter is another one that was going to drive me insane.

But it pays off - kids get a chance to unwind and relax before they get to bed, and it's a lot easier. Better yet, they will develop an interest in reading because they see you doing it.

Putting them to bed at separate times is a good idea, but then you might wind up reading twice. If you can get them to settle down at the same time by reading, you should be able to get them down at the same time. At their ages, they will enjoy the same reading material.

Oh and yeah, sometimes I had to go through 3-4 books at a time. It was a fair investment in time.

One other thing - letting them each pick a book or two helps get their "buy-in" to the reading routine, and of course reinforces their confidence in making decisions.

You should be able to get tons of kids books at a thrift store for dirt cheap. There is another chance to let them pick a few books out. It'll be a fun thing.
posted by Xoebe at 7:28 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

We put the older one (5) in the shared bedroom, and the younger (2.5) in our bed. Then I move the younger into her bed when I go to bed.

If I try to put them both in the same room they wind each other up.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:58 PM on January 20, 2011

I have two children similar in age to yours sharing a room, and we've managed to get to a place where it works more nights than not.

Like others have said, sticking to a routine really seems to be the key. We have a series of things we do as part of the getting ready for bed process, that we do in the same order every night. The whole routine takes 10-20 minutes and gives the kids time to make the transition from playing to bedtime.

For when they're getting out of bed after bedtime, we've had good success with the stay in bed technique featured on Super Nanny. We went through periods with both kids where we were taking them back to bed over and over again. It took a while, but both of them eventually learned that there wasn't anything more to be gained from getting out of bed after bedtime.

It certainly wasn't always easy, though. Calmly putting a child back to bed without a word when they're pleading, crying, yelling, or hitting to get a response from you can feel nearly impossible some nights. Our youngest, in particular, proved to be the more persistent of the two, and I often questioned whether or not it was working. Fortunately, we stuck with it and our little one eventually got the idea.

Good luck. I definitely understand how trying this sort of thing can be.
posted by GeekDad at 9:23 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think the issue is fighting it. With our two boys, we fought them to go to sleep and not talk and play for a month or two. It was a nightmare. Everyone tired and angry. THen we said to ourselves that we were sick of being tired so we are going to sleep. Talk as much as you want. After two days of being exhausted and not getting the attention from mom and dad that talking initially brought, they learned to go to sleep after a few minutes of giggling.
posted by AugustWest at 10:43 PM on January 20, 2011

Mine share a room. If one of them is keeping the other awake, the younger one hangs out in our bed until she's asleep or they've calmed down.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:14 AM on January 21, 2011

If they have separate beds (not bunk beds) would it help to get a room divider screen? Maybe a movable one, so it stows away for playtime, then set it up between their beds as the signal that bedtime has started. Add it to the rest of the reading/jammies/teethbrush routine.
posted by CathyG at 7:52 AM on January 21, 2011

A little lag between bedtimes helps.

We used to have these pairs: a 1-y.o. girl and an 8-y.o. boy in one room, and an 11-y.o. girl and a 6-y.o. boy in the other room. We put the baby to bed first, then the two boys, and then the big girl. Allowing some time between bedtimes did the trick.

Since moving to a new house we have the boys in one room and the girls in another room, and the boys chatter for a while after lights-out, while the little one is already soundly asleep when her big sister turns in.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:33 AM on January 21, 2011

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