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Our first child "A" is 3½ years old and has his own room in our apartment.
Second child "B" is 3½ months old and sleeps in a crib in the parent bedroom.
I'll use letters for names to make it clearer in the text below whether I'm referring to the older or younger boy.

"B" will soon outgrow his newborn crib in our bedroom, so we need to get a crib that has room to grow and has taller sides so he can't climb out (once he starts to move on his own). Such a new crib will have to be larger and therefore can't fit in our somewhat cramped bedroom. We need to move the crib out of our bedroom.

We want to put the new crib into "A"'s room although it will become a little cramped and won't leave much space for playing on the floor. We are also going to move from an apartment into a house, but the move will be after "B" outgrows his current (small) crib. We want the boys to share a bedroom in the house, too. That leaves another room as their shared playroom where they can be loud (that makes their bedroom a quiet room).

The move will have essentially zero social impact (neighborhood, playground, friends, kindergarten, etc.) because the house will be within walking distance of the old apartment but any move is a big change and "A" has a significant aversion to change. Every toddler benefits from solid routines and structure – "A" very much so but not quite to an autistic degree. Still, change is difficult, and he is not old enough that we can rationally discuss options and opinions with him.

Should we move the crib into "A"'s room now (before we move), simultaneously with the move, or some months after the move?

  • We're thinking that moving the crib into "A"'s room at the same time as the home move would be too much change at once for "A".
  • However, if we move "B" into a separate space for now (in the apartment) and move him into "A"'s room some time after the home move, then how do we "sell" that idea to "A" when he has had his own room in the house for a while?
  • Finally, "A" is not a deliberate bully but he doesn't yet understand that he must be careful with the baby and that he can't step on him, for instance. We're worried that "A" might hurt "B" in the crib when they share a room, and that we might not be able to protect "B" enough.

Because we're both twins, neither we nor our parents have relevant experience we can use. We still have some months before we need to decide, but we need to consider our options now in order to prepare for the change.

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@balancedmama: Sadly, we have had more than one incident where "B" was lying on the living-room carpet and "A" deliberately walked across his chest. He was punished for it but still repeated it on another occasion. So we're a little worried whether he might climb into the crib at night (easy for him) and ... I don't know, do something bad while we sleep. Separate rooms would avoid that of course, but then there won't be one "sleep" room and one "play" room. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jan 29 '13 at 8:05
    
As a Major Dad (so to speak) I will just go ahead and tell you outright that your 'worry' is a corner case. At 3, it's an experiment on his part just to see what happens. nobody really knows the brain of a 3 yr old, but I say it's not a sign anything in the slightest. Since you've caught and dealt with it, I doubt you will see it again. 2ndarily, as an extra credit assignment, if you're telling us that your boys are named "A" and "B" then I can't help but wonder if the rest of your life is that sterile. How about some imagination? Al And Bill come to mind. –  monsto Jan 31 '13 at 6:20
    
@monsto, haha the boys have regular names, don't worry. I wanted to make it clearer in my post whether I was referring to the older or younger one. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jan 31 '13 at 6:54
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3 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Given the new information you've offered, it takes a while for the oldest to fully grasp how fragile baby really is, as well as the ramifications of new baby, accept those and grow into being the trusted and helpful older sibling (in my case, I went back and forth between my "evil side" and my "good side" right up until I left for college).

All joking aside, My sister and I had separate rooms and learned to clean up our toys after ourselves frequently in the living room until we chose to share a room so that we could gain a "toy" or "playroom."

The advantages of keeping them separate include not only alleviating the worries you already have but:

  • Bedtime and Naptime are easier in the sense that they won't keep each-other awake.
  • Keeping whose toys are whose straight is a little easier because "A's" more sophisticated toys that won't be safe for baby once baby is moving around more can still be played with "safely" for both "B" and the toys themselves if "A" plays with them in his room.
  • They each have a "corner" to go to. If "B" is to be anything like many younger siblings, he'll look up to "A" and always want to do what he is doing. If they each have bedrooms, "A" can escape to his own space once in awhile and has this option over "other options" little kids think of when they need a "break" for a few.
  • When they want to do something together, because they don't have a "toy" room. You will be more likely to enforce regular "picking up" which is just a good habit for kids anyway.

Of course there are also tons of advantages to having them room together as well (as you've pointed out), but I don't think it is really a make-or-break decision and if this will help you and wife sleep better at night, why not? They can have a different "loud" space altogether. Perhaps the living room? Kitchen? Bedrooms can both be for quieter play, reading and sleeping.

Your concern about "justifying" to "A" why he should have to share a room later, may be moot. If you need to move them in together against their wills later on, you are the parent after all. However, they may see advantages to the situation even at say three and six and want to be together. It becomes more a question of when to move baby into his own room unless you only have a total of two bedrooms to work with. If you really do feel they should be together eventually, I recommend waiting until "B" is past the "needing to put everything in his mouth" stage because of toy safety more than anything. Hopefully by then "A" will have grown out of the need to walk on his brother too.

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Accepted: Your points made me think about why we wanted them to have one common bedroom, and you've nearly convinced me that it would be better to give them each their own room rather than sharing two rooms for two purposes. I offered your ideas to my wife as we talked about this topic again, and we will probably end up giving each their own room. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Feb 2 '13 at 21:49
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A lot of parenting at this age comes from just making your best call and teaching the child the "way it is" for them. If you look around the world, kids just learn to adapt to whatever, from the richest mansion to the poorest village -- what they are given is what is normal. It is your job to choose what is best for them.

I wouldn't worry about it. Sounds like they need to share a room, especially since they aren't earning an extra $40K per year for a bigger house. LOL. As for the 3 year old bothering the little one, this is another thing that kids just need to learn. In my experience, the little ones know how to cry, and will do so in quite a hurry if bothered.

I actually have 3-4 little ones sharing a room right now, and trying really hard to get our house built so we can alieviate that a bit. But it is all we have, so that is what they live with (and they don't mind -- triple-stack bunk beds are cool stuff)

In a nutshell, I think the following 4 steps represent (approximately) Ages 0-5, 5-10, 10-15, 15-N

  1. Teach them to listen, show them the framework for their world
    Teach them to follow instruction
    "Control" is not theirs at this stage, other than learning to control their own actions

  2. Show them why, teach them how. Let them decide small things as per their age.
    Still guide, but with a lot more of the understanding built in.
    7 year olds STILL need told to eat vegetables instead of ice-cream sometimes.

  3. Let them make many/most of their own decisions, be there to help
    But still be the parent when needed
    Your oversight is important for a lot of choices like friends, school, parties, etc...

  4. If you did it right, hopefully, they will come to you instead of running from you as they grow older.
    You will forever be a friend for them to come to for advice.

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Your fun remark about them earning their own money misses the mark because they will have two rooms; we just wanted them to share one bedroom and also share one playroom. Still, good thoughts. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Feb 2 '13 at 21:50
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First of all, I love the fact that I get to tell one of the forum mods "YOR DOIN IT RONG!!!11"

IMO wait till the move. If it's planned and it's in the pretty near future (couple months), there's no reason not to wait. Every routine you have is going to be restarted anyway, and you'll even have to start some new ones.

Regardless of how you try to plan it, acclimation is going to take a while, perhaps even months. May as well do it all at once.

Side note: I imagine you've already involved him, but does the 3.5 yo know you're moving? Seen the house? Know about the roommate thing? Keep reminding him. This roommate thing should be part of those discussions.

You could also dream up some things to let him choose "do you want your bed over here or over there? want your toybox here or there? what side of the table do you want your dinner chair to be on?" Giving him some modicum of ownership will let him feel cool and big (=

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LOL at your yelling :-D although I'm asking this ahead of time, before doing anything becomes necessary. Regarding your side notes: yes, he's aware of the move and excited about it (even though I'm sure he has no concept of what it means), and we frequently visit the construction site. Thanks for your suggestions about how he can be included in the planning process. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jan 29 '13 at 7:13
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