It’s getting to be that time- the kids are getting a little older, they’re mixed gender, and it’s just becoming less and less appropriate for them to be sharing a room. Once you decide that it’s time for them to separate, how do you do it? Here’s one mom’s experience!
1. The Separation:
7/30/18- We separated the kids into different rooms today. It was a bit coming, but we finally did it. We had some trepidation since the kids both get kinda scared at night, and we were nervous that they would have a hard time sleeping separately. That may be the case. Today is just the first day doing it, so the novelty might wear off after a day or two.
Tip 1: Get Them Excited–New Bedspreads!
My oldest ended up moving to a different room, and the youngest stayed in the first room. We have bed spreads that we use for guests for when we rent that room to make extra money. We let the kids have those guest bed spreads since we, obviously, won’t be renting that room any more. This helped them get excited about moving into their new rooms.
Tip 2: Get Them Excited–Decoration!
We also made signs; my oldest wrote their own name on their paper and colored it. My youngest had me write their name, but they colored it and put a bunch of glitter glue on it. We then let them tape their names to their doors and talked about the rules of having your own room; other people have to knock, and they need to wait until they are told they can come in before they enter and such.
They were pretty excited about their rooms. Then they got even more excited when we moved all the stuff and separated it between the two rooms. We talked about letting them paint their rooms and discussed how they can choose colors. My oldest wanted four different colors for each wall- red, yellow, blue, and pink. Wow! That’s a lot of color! I told her she was allowed to pick two colors. I’m a big fan of accent walls. She sort of wants every wall to be an accent wall… which is an awful lot of accents. If Robin Williams were wall décor, my kid wants his style all over her walls. This is still in discussion.
Tip 3: See How it Goes, Apply Necessary Changes
It was about an hour into bedtime when one came out. “I have to go to the bathroom.” We nodded, told them to go quickly, and didn’t even finish our admonishment of rapid urinary release when we were interrupted by our other kid with an, “I have to go to the bathroom.” Little head peeking around the corner of the doorframe… The Sympathetic Urinator. We meet again.
All in all, the kids did have a late-ish night, and they were both a little nervous, but it still passed relatively easily. I did have to go in a few times to give them another kiss and hug, assure them of their safety, and assure them that I would leave the hall light on and the door a little open. We tried night-lights, but they do better with the hall light and open door.
Tip 4: Rework the Bedtime Routine
I haven’t quite worked out yet how we’re going to do our bedtime routine.
Usually, this is how it goes: I put the kids into their beds, we take several deep breaths together as I remind them that we’re calming down, I’ll pick them up and sing them a song. They’ll sing if they’re rowdy. I’ll remind Trampoline that the bed is not a trampoline and we’re laying down now. I’ll remind Interruptagon that patience needs to be exercised, and I can’t be interrupted while I’m talking to Trampoline. If they need my attention while I’m talking, then they can lay a hand on my arm and I’ll be with them momentarily. I then have to remind Trampoline that just because I have started talking to Interruptagon, that doesn’t mean Trampoline now has free reign to re-begin jumping on the bed because the previous admonishment was, in fact, still in effect.
This is about the part where I start thinking about yogurt-covered pretzels, but that’s neither here nor there.
I usually read them a story, and then they lay down (“You can just LAY DOWN, Trampoline, you don’t actually need to stand up again in order to jump into a laying position on your bed…”)
They try to start conversations. Sometimes I let them. But I’m picky about it. “What are we going to have in the morning for breakfast?” gets a, “We’ll talk about it tomorrow morning at breakfast.” But sometimes a, “Today was a bad day” will merit a, “Tell me what was bad.”
But it ends with butterfly kisses and normal kisses and sometimes nose kisses, then both of them laying in their beds. As I turn out the light and retreat through the door, I tell them, “Okay, guys, no more talking. I mean it. We’re all done talking. I love you both very much, and I’m so proud of you. Good night.” I leave the door ajar and turn on the hall light.
But now I’m not sure what I’m going to do about the bedtime routine. As you can see, it’s pretty regimented. Actually, the thing of it is that once they’re in bed and we do the story, any movement at all or any distraction from the bedtime gets them VERY riled up VERY quickly. So I don’t want to do the bedtime routine and then have them separate rooms and wake them all up again. But I don’t want to do two whole bedtime routines… gracious!
So I’m not sure how this is going to work out, yet, but as of now, they are in separate rooms and they are okay. So we’ll see how things go tomorrow.
Update: Almost a Year Later…
We’re closing in on a year of separate rooms. We’ve figured out the bedtime routine. I will read them the story together, then tell them to lay down in their separate beds. Then I go to each room and kiss and hug the child, do the mini-conversations, and tell them I love them. And that works well.
The new problem is that the children love using their bedrooms in the power struggle against each other. If I’m in one room with a kid, the other kid will knock on the door and ask to come in. The kid who’s in the room with me loves to say No.
Yes, we do have individual dates with our kids, and no, I’m not often in a room with a kid. This is purely a control thing.
Naturally, I talk to the kids about it, “Listen here, Kettle, did you like it when the Pot did this to you yesterday? How did it make you feel? So how do you think you’re making the Pot feel? What should we do now?” Sometimes they still don’t want to let their sibling into their room. Then I go out into a public space, “Darling Pot, I love you and want to play in your room with you, but I love the Kettle, too, and I won’t let you use your room to make Kettle feel excluded.”
This is still an issue we’re working through. But overall, the transition ended up being pretty smooth.
Did you have any experiences with separating you kids’ rooms? What tips and advice can you share? Let us know in the comments below!