The start and end of my children sharing a room lasted all of one week.
I could write a novel about how amazing the love between my children is – because it’s one of the most magical things I have ever witnessed. I wrote a while ago about the day that Archer met Atlas and how it was all unicorns and rainbows and it’s (mostly) remained that way ever since.
So when the time came that I realized – Hey, I really NEED to get Atlas out of my bedroom – and Archer was all: “Ackliss sleep in Archer’s room?!” – we gave it a shot.
and I really wanted it to work. Not in an ‘this HAS to work’ kind of way, but more ‘oh wouldn’t it be nice to: have more space in our house/be able to do “bedtime” all at once/give them more bonding opportunities/etc/etc/etc…’ so we gave it a real shot.
In a lot of ways it went well. Archer seemed really excited about having his brother close, he didn’t wake-up when Atlas cried out for me in the middle of the night, and they actually slept. But I felt like something was off and spent the week reflecting on why I didn’t feel like them sharing a room was as great as I thought it would be.
It started with me noticing Archer worrying about Atlas more often. “Ackliss sad?” Archer would ask me, at regular intervals throughout the day. Cute, right? So thoughtful. But my two-year old showing signs of worry – regularly – got to me.
Then I had to rethink our bedtime routine. Before the room-share experiment I spent some one-on-one time with each of the boys, in turn, before tucking them in for the night. They each had my undivided attention while they processed their day. Atlas could nurse for as long as he wanted, without interruption, and Archer could ask (almost as many) questions as he needed before leaving the day behind. And since Archer is pretty quiet until bedtime comes along this quiet time with each of them before bed feels really important. I tried a few different scenarios in an attempt to make something resembling our old routine work but it all just felt complicated.
After a few nights with his brother, Archer started asking to “hide with mama” as soon as dinner was done – seemingly craving that one-on-one time where he didn’t have to share my attention, or speak quietly, or worry about waking Atlas. We built forts and had some really sweet moments together, but I didn’t see it as a long-term solution. I was also starting to spend less time to Atlas in the evenings than I usually did, leaving him with his daddy, in order to help compensate for the new responsibility I had given Archer.
Being an older sibling comes with a certain level of responsibility and in a lot of ways that can be good. Archer became a “big” brother at less than a year-and-a-half old and had to learn how to wait his turn, share his toys, not play with his favourite toys because they have small parts, to be empathetic, and patient, and to (at times) let his brothers needs come before his own. And he has done an incredible job at it. Archer is an amazingly sensitive, loving, caring “big” brother. But does he have to be that ALL the time?
These are such good and important lessons to learn but they can also be hard, especially when you are two and you never really get a break from them.
So I started reflecting on what I could do to help Archer not always have to be the “big” brother. And inversely, on what I could do to help Atlas not always get treated like the “little” brother. Because both roles come with their advantages and limitations. There are just as many occasions where we have to restrict Atlas’ exploring on account of the fact that we have to keep up with the pace of his older brother. Atlas gets worn, a lot.
So I decided to give the boys separate bedrooms. With the hope that they will be able to start and end each day concerned only with themselves. That way Archer has a place where he can be 2 and Atlas has a place where he can be almost 1 and they don’t need to skirt their behavior or worry about each other. At least for a little while longer.
All children are different, all families are different, and sometimes what works for one doesn’t work for another. In our case, room sharing wasn’t the perfect fit for us, at this stage. I think we will try to see if they can share a room again in a few years. I still think of so many wonderful reasons why they would benefit from sharing a room together – about how great it could be, one day. But in the meantime, I get to design another bedroom.