12/1/08

One Room, Two Kids Revisited

The growing trend in this country appears to be larger homes, smaller families and more video games and television. A few more years and the American family may gather at their kitchen counter to have a conversation via text, omg r u lvn the chkn 2nt?
When John and I returned from living in Australia, we had a grudge against the American government. We were expecting a child, and we were analyzing our country with the scrutiny of a foreigner. In a Utopian society (aka Australia), television includes commercials publicizing the use of sunscreen, bedtime for children at 7:30 with a giant stuffed teddy bear, a song, and a dance, public parks and restrooms devoid of filth, reverse taxes for couples giving birth to a child in the form of thousands of dollars in your pocket. Families live sparsely, with a concentration on simple living, a zest for travel and a deep respect for nature.
With this experience under our belts, we returned to the states and cancelled our cable television. Completely. It's been four and a half years since we pumped commercialized American television into our home, since we fed on consumerism and devoured sensationalized news caps. We moved to a 2 bedroom home, we ride bikes and walk to the beach to watch the sunset after dinner. When we visit Grandparents, and watch television, Shelby cries at every commercial break because she thinks the show is all over already.
When we learned we were pregnant with a second baby, we dismissed the concern of our friends and neighbors and responded with, "Our kids will share a room. We did, didn't you?"
This was all well and good until the baby arrived and we discovered that babies cry. Babies make noise at all hours of the night. And toddler sleep is nothing to mess with. So we spent the first few weeks nervous. But once I got out of the fog of post pregnancy, I took some baby steps toward reclaiming my bedroom. On the days when Shelby was in preschool, I began putting Ana down for her morning nap in her crib in the girls' bedroom. After a few weeks, I added her afternoon nap to the agenda while Shelby went down for her nap. We all found this to be exciting that Shelby and Ana could lie down in their room for a nap together. And on a "Jackpot Day" they both actually fell asleep in their room, at the same time!!!!
After a few weeks, I set a goal: Ana will begin the evening in her crib and if possible, will end up in her crib in the morning. What happens in between doesn't matter. By the time Ana was 8 months, we were all set. Shelby, thank God, is a fairly sound sleeper, so any ambient noise made by her baby sister goes unnoticed. The only times we separate them is during bedtime routine and if one is sick.
Ana goes to bed around 7 and Shelby gets her story time at 7:15. So we do bedtime routine in our bed and then promptly move Shelby to her bed once she's fallen asleep. This may bode poorly for us in the future. But for now, it works just fine. Shelby like her bed and doesn't ask to get in ours during the night.
In the first year of Ana's life, if one got sick, we would put them into bed with us. But now that they are older, they just suffer through the other one's coughing, harking or crying. I'd like to think that they are used to sharing a room with each other. Getting used to sharing toys is another story.

2 comments:

H said...

Hi, thanks for the advice! I'm going to start putting her in her crib for naps this week. I like the in the bed when they go down/ hopefully when they wake up, and what's in-between doesn't matter :-)
Someday soon we'll be sleeping through the night (in our own rooms!), and I'll be missing her sweet soft snuggling in the middle of the night.

H said...

Hi, Just wanted to follow up and let you know the girls have both been sleeping (mostly through the night) in their room together for a couple of months now. Thanks for writing about it. It gave me strength or courage or maybe just comfort that someone else has gone through it. It is so sweet to see them both in there, sleeping like angels. Ahh.