When B, my youngest, was around 18 months old, she began an unfortunate sleeping habit that we did everything we could think of to correct. At 4:30am she was up and wanted out of her crib, and there was no denying her. She had a feisty set of lungs and knew exactly how to use them. We tried letting her cry it out, we tried bringing her into our bed, we begged and pleaded with her, and we chastised her gently, but we could not figure out a way to get her to go back to sleep without taking her downstairs.
We couldn’t fix the problem, but we did find a patch that wasn’t too terrible. Tony would take her downstairs and put her to sleep on the couch, and he would pull out a camping air mattress and sleeping bag out from under the couch and go back to sleep right beside her on the living room floor. I would come downstairs in the morning to find them like that every day for months and months. It was not ideal.
When B was getting close to age 2, we travelled to Florida to stay with my Dad for a week, and we all were sleeping together in the same room. Tony and I were in the bed, N was on a mattress on the floor, and B was in a playpen. The first night we were there, we heard B’s usual 4:30 am rustlings. I cracked one eye open to take a discreet look at her. She was standing in the playpen in her cute little footie pyjamas, looking around the room. She saw that we were all there together, her safe little world of people close by, and she lay herself back down and promptly went back to sleep until a reasonable time of the day.
It was wonderful and it was a breakthrough.
Back at home, we went back to our old ways again, but an idea had formed within us, and we wondered what would happen if we put N and B together in the same room. Would they perhaps both find comfort in having their sister close by, and would it help them sleep better at night? Would it help them to bond as sisters? The answer is a resounding YES. It was one of the best parenting moves we ever made. They have been sharing a room now for almost four years and they both sleep better at night, knowing they have their sister close by.
There is nothing better than listening to them chat to each other after their lights are out. Sometimes N will climb down to B’s bunk and they will play with their dolls or stuffed animals, or best of all, N will read stories to her younger sister. Sometimes they choose to sleep together in the single bottom bunk. Occasionally they have traded places and slept in each other’s bunks. They settle themselves down after a short while, and we never have to yell up at them to settle down and go to sleep. They do that all on their own.
We have always emphasized to them that sisters are there for each other for life, that they will always have each other, and that they are each others’ true best friends. I always tell N and B how lucky they are to have each other, and sharing a room seems to have reinforced this for both of them. They disappear upstairs together for hours at a time, and they really enjoy each other’s company. Of course they fight, but it never lasts long. The bond is there and it is deep and I can practically touch it.
I know that this could mean difficulties for Tony and me when they grow into teenagers. They will most likely cover for each other when one is getting in trouble, or they may plan parties and nights out where we don’t know the whole truth of what is going on. They may work together to manipulate us into getting what they want. And N will almost certainly help B buy alcohol at some point, the way my brother used to do for me. (Girls, if you are ever reading this down the road, the garage is an excellent hiding place). Truly though, knowing that they will look out for each other as they grow up is a very comforting thought.
We do have three bedrooms in our house, so when the time comes that they want their own rooms, they can have them. So far they haven’t asked, and I hope that they won’t for a long time to come. I always hoped they would be close as sisters, and knowing that they are is one of the most rewarding things that has come out of having these two glorious girls.