Hello Everyone and welcome to the February 2022 edition of The Nap Times! If you are receiving this and do not want a monthly newsletter from me, simply unsubscribe at the bottom. I totally get wanting to simplify and declutter your inbox and will not take it personally.
This newsletter is all about something I get asked about a ton: ROOM SHARING. What has worked, what we prioritize, etc. I am also going to share how Nate and I sleep for the first month(s) after we have a baby. We will end the way we always do with current things I have read/listened to/watched.
R O O M S H A R I N G
Yes, the above photo is actual footage of my three big kids. There is a top bunk and a toddler bed, and yet, this is how they sleep most nights.
We are big fans of room sharing over at the Strickler house. Partly because we love the bond it forms in our kids, and partly because, well, we have been forced to do it! We live in a three bedroom house. We have four kids. There are not enough rooms for everyone to have their own. It's that simple. I decided to structure this section in a Q + A form based on the most popular questions I have gotten when it comes to room sharing.
How old are your kids?
Our three big kids (6.5, 5, and 3) all share a room and have for about 5 months. Prior to that, the two oldest shared and started doing so when John Robert was a little over 3 and Scout was 20 months.
When is the best age to start room sharing?
You might be wondering when is the best age to start room sharing. I wish there was a simple answer for this. Every stage is going to have it's own challenges and difficulties, and sometimes you just have to rip off the band-aid. The best age to start is when the sharing of the room is best for the family as a whole. And really, kids are much more adaptable than we give them credit for.
It could be you need to make room for a new baby coming, or you're in a two bedroom and it's time to get the baby out of your room. Maybe you just want your kids to share a room. Whatever the reason, at some point, you just have to go for it. For us, we waited until the last possible minute to move Scout in with John Robert. She was 19 months when Millie was born, and we knew Millie would sleep in our room for at least a month. So, when Scout was 20 months old and we had slightly left the first month newborn fog behind, we moved her in with John Robert. She was still in a crib and we kept her in it* so as not to make too many transitions at once. We then moved Millie into Scout's old nursery. This transition went really well. Yes, the first few days/weeks held a ton of excitement and the kids would laugh and play in the room, but we really didn't care. Eventually, they got used to it and would fall asleep like normal.
*I also have friends that transition out of the crib at the same time they start room sharing. To them, it's already a big transition, so you might as well lose the crib too.
But what if one child wakes in the night?
Unfortunately, we have had a ton of experience with this. John Robert went through a prolonged season of getting night terrors. He would absolutely scream BLOODY MURDER and I am pretty sure the neighbors could hear. But you know who learned to sleep through it?! Scout. I am telling you…it was unbelievable what that child slept through. Full on exorcisms. I know all kids won't do this, but all this is to say, kids are resilient. They can sleep on the floor without a pillow. They fall asleep in the car in a position that would cause the average adult to need an immediate chiropractor appointment. You might think your child could never sleep through something and then they surprise you.
What are the cons of room sharing?
1. For us, the biggest con is the morning. Oftentimes, the earliest riser wakes the other siblings who might have slept in otherwise. This was absolutely the case when we moved Millie in with the big two. She used to sleep till 8am, and now she's up at 6 with the others. It took me a few weeks to realize this was why she was acting demon possessed by 2pm.
2. Another con for us has been the difference in age between John Robert and Millie. He is six. She is three. He really can stay up later than her and we want to allow him to. However, it makes bedtime a massive pain because the girls want to stay up if he gets to and everyone is tired and a lot of meltdowns ensue. Once we move back into our house post renovation, John Robert is going to have his own room. He is the only boy and we think it's time he gets his own space. Also, this will hopefully help with putting the girls to bed and allowing him to be in his room with the light on reading or doing legos.
What are the pros?
There are so many! Here are a few:
1. Room sharing makes traveling as a family a lot easier. For one, because the kids will likely have to share a room on vacation and it's something they are already used to. And secondly, when they are in a foreign place, they find a lot of comfort in being in the same room as the person they are used to sleeping with.
2. It creates a really special bond between siblings. When the kids are falling asleep in there, they talk and giggle and enjoy getting to spend time together by themselves. Sometimes they make a “sleep pile” (something they learned watching The Croods) where they take every single blanket and pillow and pile them all up to fall asleep. Other times I find that they have all switched beds, or are all asleep in the same bed. Again, kids can sleep in the most uncomfortable looking locations!
3. It has allowed us to live in the house we love for much longer. Again, with four kids and three rooms, we would have had to move or add on years ago had we not had the kids share a room.
How do you decide who shares a room?
We have always decided room sharing by prioritizing the worst/most sensitive sleeper. Usually, that's the baby. Maybe for you the baby is the absolute best sleeper and the toddler is killing you. Maybe you have an older child that either needs their own space, or has the ability to sneak into the room quietly and not wake a smaller sibling. Each family is so unique. Each age gap is unique. Heck, each bedroom size is unique!
But what if I am still dreading it?
I would say this is totally normal! Sleep as a parent is so precious, and anything that could rock the boat can feel so daunting. But at the end of the day, you just have to go for it. Give it two weeks to a month. If it's still awful after that then maybe consider an alternate plan. My guess is it will go better than you think.
To close out this section, please enjoy this photo of Scout and John Robert. Asleep. Under the bed. In their clothes.
I am telling you, kids can sleep anywhere!
HOW NATE AND I SLEEP WITH A NEWBORN:
Funny not so funny thing about the GIF above: that's how long Nate slept on the couch this go around. Three whole months 😬. Allow me to explain:
The biggest thing we prioritize after bringing a new baby home is SLEEP. Sweet, precious, elusive sleep. Because of this, we do not sleep together.
We devised this system after having Millie and it was AMAZING. We all slept “better” (quotes because what really is better sleep with a newborn?) and copied it after Alberta was born. Obviously your personal work schedules/house size/life phase will affect this, but here is how we choose to divide and conquer when it comes to prioritizing sleep:
I sleep in our bedroom with the newborn. Door closed. Sound machine on. From about 7pm to 7am I am responsible for two people: me, and baby. That's it.
Nate sleeps on the couch in the living room. From 7am to 7pm he is responsible for 4 people: himself, and the big kids.
If the baby cries in the night, I deal with it. If any of the toddlers have a bad dream, wet the bed, do any of the other crazy things toddlers do at night, Nate deals with it.
With this system, Nate isn't woken up by little baby grunts he can't really do anything about, and I am not woken up any extra times besides what the baby requires.
Also, if the baby were having a hard time settling anytime before, say, 10pm, I would take her out to Nate. He would likely still be awake anyways and could calm her while he watched the West Wing. This allowed me to try and get some needed sleep before the next feed.
With Millie (our third), Nate slept on the couch for six weeks. With Alberta, he did it for 3 months! We decided to wait till we moved Alberta out of our room for him to come back in, not because of her, but because of those darn toddlers! We knew they would wake the baby coming into our room in the morning or if they had a bad dream, so Saint Nate slept on the couch for 12 weeks. Bless him.
-Did I miss him in our room? Absolutely.
-Was it worth it for everyone to sleep better? Without a doubt.
-Did our marriage suffer? I would argue no. Because two humans who sleep in the same bed, yet are completely sleep deprived and miserable are much more likely to fight than two humans getting some much needed rest.
And to anyone out there navigating this entire phase without a partner, I would just like to say I cannot fathom how you do it. I am sure your kids barely notice the sacrifices you are making. You are absolute heroes in my eyes.
*I am going to use this section to only share things I read/watched I would suggest to another person. I definitely read/listened to/watched some duds!
This month has been similar to last month. I am barely reading and watching. The cracks of time I get are spent on thinking for the renovation or going to bed early. I did, however, start a new book! American Royals by Katharine McGee. I am getting through a chapter a night if I am lucky and will report back, but so far it has really kept my attention.
I am also still reading through the New Testament and gosh I am loving it. I don't have a reading plan or anything, just taking it book by book and chapter by chapter (currently in Mark chapter 4). The special part of this is that I have these journaling Bibles for Millie and Scout and as I read I am taking notes in the margins of their Bibles. I hope this is something I can do over the years to one day give to them. Also, here is a link to the Bible. The cover is by Lulie Wallace. She does art and textiles and I adore basically everything she creates!
And yes, I am still HEAVY on the Wordletrain and it is one of the highlights of my day! I love how it causes me to use my brain early in the morning.
Last month I told you I love it because there is no app you have to download. There is only one wordle each day; everyone has the same word. Nate and I play daily with two of our dear friends in a boys versus girls tournament, and I have now converted my mom, dad, aunt, grandmother, and multiple friends.
Here is a second reason I have come to love it: I pick up my phone first thing in order to do something enjoyable and good for my brain, rather than being inundated by emails, texts, or social media.
That's all I have for you this month. If room sharing is something you are considering, I hope you feel encouraged. If you know someone who is, forward them this newsletter! Oh, and go play Wordle. Have a lovely March, and thanks for reading!