Saturday, December 29, 2007

Need advice: housing young siblings

The largest of many stumbling blocks that Mr. Trillwing and I have in thinking about a second child is how we'd make it work without having to move into a larger, more expensive rental home.

See, when Lucas was born, we were living in a two-bedroom apartment: one large bedroom where we all slept, and one bedroom for Mr. Trillwing's office (from which he works 40-55 hours/week). Actually, when I say "we all slept," I mean really "we all lay down occasionally and tried to sleep." For the first few months of Luke's life, he slept in the living room in a car seat or bassinet, while Mr. T and I took turns "sleeping" on the couch. The other partner then slept in the bedroom with two fans running to drown out the baby's cries. Under this system, each partner was assured at least four hours of sleep each night. Otherwise, we'd each get less than three hours, very little of it consecutive.

Probably not coincidentally, Lucas did not sleep regularly through the night until after he was 15 months old, when we moved into this three-bedroom house and gave him his own room.

So, currently we have: our small bedroom, Luke's only slightly smaller bedroom, Mr. T's office. We have a living room/dining room/kitchen area that flows together, and my "office" (desk and chair) is tucked into a corner of the dining room. There really isn't anywhere else in the house where we could put Mr. Trillwing's office because he needs to be able to shut his door to be productive and meet all his newspaper deadlines and, frankly, to remain sane. We can't move his office into the attached garage because of temperature extremes and what would quickly become a sketchy wiring situation.

So here's my question: if we were to have a baby, where would we put him or her? Obviously, for the first three months or so, a bassinet will work fine for the baby--such furniture would fit into our smallish bedroom. If we wanted to put a crib in our bedroom (Lucas outgrew his bassinet at about 3-4 months, if I remember correctly), we'd have to move one of our dressers into the garage, and even then a crib would be a tight squeeze. And having a baby in the room isn't ideal, as experience demonstrated that we all wake each other up, so we'd all be sleep-deprived. (We tried the co-sleeping thing when Lucas was less than a year old, and while it worked for Lucas and me, it was nearly impossible for Mr. T to sleep with the little guy in the bed.)

The end goal would be for Lucas and any new child to share a bedroom. But how the hell does that work, with baby waking up all the time, and Lucas a fitful sleeper to begin with?

If you have two (or more) kids and they share a bedroom, how did you manage the first year or two until the youngest slept consistently through the night? And how did you find time to sleep with two kids under age 4?


Anonymous said...

okay, I've got two kids under 3 and a 3 bedroom house. here's how it worked for us.

we have a moses basket and the baby slept in that until she got too big/active for it. Then we set up the pack and play in the kitchen and she slept in that at night and her crib for naps, just to get her used to it. My older daughter moved to sleeping in our bed for naps, if they overlapped the baby.

once the baby got pretty good at falling asleep without a lot of fuss and staying asleep, we started putting her in her sister's room at night. we put her to bed and hour or 90 minutes after her sister, so the older kid had time to get to sleep. I find she gets really irritated/can't sleep if there is noise while she's falling asleep. Once she's pretty well konked out, she doesn't wake up until the baby really really cries a whole bunch.

now, don't get me wrong, they do wake each other up now and then. They both have colds at the moment and one will cough and then cry and cough and it will wake the other who will cry and then cough. Not a lot of sleep happening this week.

but under ordinary circumstances, they do okay. If I get the big one to sleep, then put the little one down, even if she fusses a bit, it's usually okay. And it's been good for my older daughter. She's always been a good sleeper but she's much more determined to stay asleep these days. survival, I guess.

as for me sleeping, my kids are really good sleepers, for whatever reason. So having two is sometimes a little more trouble but it's manageable.

Leslie M-B said...

Thank you so much, Anastasia! Brilliant.

Unknown said...

Well, we waited until the oldest was 3 :) And the oldest would sleep through a train wreck. But honestly, we kept the 2nd in our room in a bassinet for the first couple of months--we were in a 3 bedroom house. Then we moved into a 2 bedroom apartment--going the other way here. The kids slept together fine and didn't really mind too much.

Eventually, though, we had to get separate bedrooms for the kids--yay mortgage.

ArticulateDad said...

Yes, the Painter and the Inventor share their room. The Inventor slept in our bedroom in a travel crib until he was about a year. His real crib was in the boys' room, but he'd not fall asleep there most nights. So we'd transfer him after the Painter was asleep.

We had bought a loft bed, so we could slip the crib underneath it. When the Inventor outgrew the crib, we simply bought a mattress at Ikea and slipped it on the floor under the loft bed. It works quite well, really.

When I was growing up in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City (until I was about 4), we had a triple-decker bunk bed. I slept in the drawer pull-out, with my two older brothers in their respectives above. In other words... it can surely be done.

Rev Dr Mom said...

First off, all kids are different so it is within the realm of possibility that #2 would sleep better than Lucas did.

Unfortunately my 2nd baby was a far worse sleeper than my first--she slept in a bassinet for a while, but then shared a room with her older brother. I don't remember her waking him up by crying. But I do remember having to put him to bed very very quietly so as not to wake her up when she was about a year old. Later she and 2nd daughter shared a room; they didn't keep each other awake until they were both old enough to talk and giggle a lot, but staggered bed times helped.

Noise and light didn't seem to keep my kids awake. I once read somewhere that you shouldn't keep things too quiet when they are newborns so that they don't get too used to it. I don't if there is any good research to back that up or not.