4 Moms Q&A: bedrooms and bedtime

4moms35kids 4 Moms: How to get kids to work hard with a good attitude Welcome friends.  This week’s 4 Moms post is a Q&A about bedtimes and bedrooms.  On your mark…get set…GO!

1.  So here’s my question for all of you… How do you handle bedtime with 4 under 4? My youngest two are 1 1/2 and 3 months, and bedtime when my husband is not home is awful (he doesn’t get home till sometime between 8 and 10pm).

Oh. my. goodness.

I have no advice.

Well, just this: I would keep the bedtime routine super simple and short.  Baths can happen at other times of the day.  Teeth can be brushed right after dinner.  Bedtime stories are good if they help settle the kids, but totally optional.  A quick prayer and a kiss is all it takes to be a good parent, and I’ll confess that we have never done bedtime prayers with any regularity.  Even pajamas can be optional if you and your kids are OK with it.  With 4 little ones and no help at bedtime, no one in their right mind will blame you for questioning habits and traditions, and stripping the routine down to the bare necessities.

2.  I have 3 boys in 1 room ages 3, 7 and 9. Any suggestions on bedtime?

We have found that bedtimes don’t really need to coincide just because kids are sharing a room.  Staggered bedtimes can sometimes make it easier for kids to wind down, since they are not there to play with each other.  On the other hand, it might be easier to get it all over with at once.  I put our boys to bed at the same time and often sit quietly in the doorway after the lights are out, correcting them if they try to play.

If you feel the younger ones need to be in bed earlier, they can learn to sleep through late arrivals – or just go back to sleep without drama if they are awakened.  Of course latecomers should do their best to be quiet.

The point here is that there are no set rules; much depends on your children’s habits and temperaments, how they interact with each other, and how you want bedtime to work.

3.  How does the division of rooms work in your new house? Are the bedrooms the same size? Same amount of rooms? Are you still using the shelf beds?

Most of the bedrooms are a little bigger than the old house, and we now have 4 instead of 3.  We also have far more closet space!  Here’s the breakdown:

The boys have the smallest room.  Calvin sleeps in our room, so for now it’s just 6yo Perry and 2yo Parker.  I keep all of their clothes in their walk-in closet and most of the toys are in the sunroom, so their room really only has beds.  We found a great deal on craigslist for matching car beds, one twin and one toddler size!

The 3 oldest girls (17yo, 16yo, and 14yo) share the middle-sized room.  It’s about the size of the bedrooms in the old house, but there’s a small bonus: a second-story deck.  I’m a little jealous of the view.  We offered to buy them beds, but they were adamantly against such a waste of space.  Instead, they used their “bed allowance” to buy chalkboard paint and a bright red sleeper sofa – another craigslist deal – so that they could decorate their bedroom as a sitting room.  They use the mattresses from the old shelf beds, just laying them out on the floor at night and rolling them up in the corner of the room during the day.  They think their bedrolls are much more comfy than regular mattresses, but are thinking of trying thinner Japanese style mats to save even more space.

They have their personal collections of books and pets displayed on shelves mounted high on the wall to preserve the limited floor space.  They hope to add a drop-down style table soon to hold Kaitlyn’s old-fashioned record player and provide a surface for laptops, etc.

Instead of a walk-in closet, they have two double-door closets covering one wall.  The inside is immaculately organized with shelves, cubbies and hanging rods to make use of every square foot for their myriad shoes and extensive wardrobes.  It’s a wonder to behold, but I don’t know if they want the world to behold it so I didn’t take a photo of the inside.

The biggest kid bedroom belongs to the 4 younger girls: 13yo Natalie, 11yo Becca, 8yo Rachael, and 4yo Bethany.  They have 2 walk-in closets.  Each of the older girls is paired up with a younger one to keep their closet in order, and each has one entire side to herself.

They have bunk beds with a full size bed on top and a [full size] futon on the bottom.  Rachael usually sleeps on the bottom with Becca, and Natalie is all alone on the top, waiting for Bethany’s bladder to grow.  Right now Bethany has her own toddler bed, because…um…we don’t want to change full size bedding every morning, if you know what I mean.

Perry and I share the master bedroom with baby Calvin.  We have a walk-in closet like the kids, and I have to say it feels luxurious to have one entire side of the closet all to myself!  And we have our own bathroom.  It’s glorious, I tell you.  I love this house.

4.  Instead of bedtime, how about waking up?? they all share a room great EXCEPT for the waking each other up in the morning, for some too early, because the rule right now is that they can’t come out till 7. But when we tell them they can just come out when they wake up, they choose incredibly early times… the excitement of being up with mom and dad must be off the charts for our children  even when this mom and dad are practically comatose

If your children are old enough to trust for a little while in the morning, I would instruct them to start their day as soon as they get up.  This alone might motivate them to hang out in bed a little longer.  😉

If they are too young to be unattended, then you might want to manage their sleep a little differently. I know this isn’t always the case, but if a child is consistently waking up too early, my first answer would be to see that they might not need so much sleep – either move bedtime to a little later, or skip naps.  This would definitely be my first move with children too young to trust alone, who are waking up before I do.  Ideally, they should sleep until they’re not sleepy anymore, and then wake up – with wake up time landing right where I want it to.  Of course that’s easier said than done, and it takes a little trial and error to figure out how much sleep a particular child needs.

If that doesn’t solve the problem, I still wouldn’t want to discourage an early riser, but I certainly understand the inconvenience.  Rather than discouraging a good habit, I would look for ways to work with it.  Maybe you can change the rule a little? If early morning is your quiet time, then anyone who wants to rise early with you must be quiet too.  If it’s Bible time, you could require them to read as well – even if this means a pre-reader sitting quietly and looking at the illustrations in a children’s Bible.  If it’s your coffee time with hubby, then other early risers could be restricted to the living room sofa with a book.

5.  We just moved our toddler out of the crib and our 8-month old sleeps with my husband and I. We are trying to get some form of routine – keeping toddler in bed and get baby used to the crib. Any sleep suggestions? How does a tired momma get sleep at night??

 Are they both in your room?  Wherever they are, I would focus on diligently putting them back in their beds when they wake up.  It might seem easier to bring them to your bed because then you can sleep too, but in the long run it just prolongs the situation and you get less sleep.  Guess how I know?  I still sigh every time Perry reminds me of this, because all I want to do is get a full night’s sleep, but I know he is right!

Also, you might want to wait until the toddler has adjusted to his  bed and is sleeping well before you try to transition the baby out of your bed and into the crib.  Two changes at once sounds like more than I would want to tackle, and you may be provoking an additional problem if the toddler resents the baby moving into his bed.  I find it easier to stagger changes whenever possible so that I’m only dealing with one major issue at a time.

Oh, and when you learn the secret to getting enough sleep at night, let me know.  🙂

6.  We have three girls 14, 12, & 10…and two boys 7 & 1. We have 3 bedrooms for them. Oldest has own room, middle girls share, 7yo old hates to sleep alone, but we cannot get 1yo to be on same sleep schedule as big brother.  So for now 7yo is w/oldest sister & 1yo is in our closet… What do we do???

 I’m not quite sure I understand; is the boys’ bedroom empty now?  At any rate, it sounds like the kids have found a temporary solution until your boys are sleeping better, if the 14yo doesn’t mind terribly.  If it were us – and we have a very similar situation going on – I would make sure the 7yo knows that he belongs in his room, even if he wakes up with his sister most mornings.  I might also keep the little guy in the boys’ if he’s sleeping through the night, and let them adjust to each other’s schedules.

We just started having this problem since we moved to a new house, and I’m finding that a little reward in the morning goes a long way toward motivating a boy to stay in his own bed.  I have a treat jar with small individually wrapped candies and some quarters, and every night that 6yo Perry or 2yo Parker stays in his bed, he gets to choose a treat.  If one or both of them wake during the night and try to join their big sisters, they gently remind him that his treat is in jeopardy, and he usually decides to go back to his own bed.  On the rare mornings that he insists on staying with a sister, Perry wakes up annoyed that they didn’t send him back to his own bed.  Parker just shrugs it off and decides to try again tomorrow.  🙂

7.  Do your kids ever share beds, either because they want to or because that is their set up?

 They often share beds for one or both reasons.  Right now, 8yo Rachael sleeps with either 13yo Natalie or 11yo or Becca, who have full size bunk beds.  2yo Parker usually starts out in Perry’s bed instead of his own.  Regardless of where he starts out, he often wakes during the night and climbs into Becca’s bed – maybe because she is such a light sleeper that she was always first to go to him if he woke during the night.

8.  I have a really hard question for you: How is your last name pronounced?? It’s been bugging me for months!

Our last name is spelled Coghlan.  There’s no U or I in it, even though family and friends who have known us for most of our lives still spell it that way. It’s pronounced koff-lan.  I know, it doesn’t look like it sounds.  When someone needs to spell my name and I don’t expect to meet them again, I pronounce it kog-lan, because even though I spell it out slowly and distinctly, they ALWAYS put a U in it, and an I for good measure: Coughlin.  They still do it even when I try to make it sound like it looks, but at least I can console myself with the knowledge that I did everything I could to avert the mistake.  Their misspellings be upon their own heads.

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  1. Hi, I’m that homeschool dad who likes to read homeschool blogs even if they’re written by moms, and I had some catching up to do on this one. Sorry I’m a few weeks late.

    On #2… We have 5 in a single bedroom right now, and I agree staggering bedtimes seems to work the best. The evening seems to take longer, but they go to sleep faster. If we were out late and they do have to go to bed at the same time, I take the opportunity to sit by the door and read out loud to them – often, the Bible. The little ones usually drift off pretty quick doing this and, well, they can’t get too much Bible. Sometimes I’ll do this even when staggering bedtimes and an older one or two will decide to hit the sack early to listen.

    We encourage reading in bed to help them stay quiet (even those who can’t read yet), and provide a reading light for each one (not battery with a switch or they’ll forget to turn it off and it won’t last; either a battery with a button you hold or a small one plugged in and attached to their bed or the wall). But we also understand that chatting away with a sibling after bedtime can be a good bonding thing, so we just tell them that they can whisper but insist they stay quiet enough that we can’t hear them from outside of the room.

  2. I love idea of high shelves, but I can’t figure out how to make it work without having a ladder handy. How do you reach the stuff, or is it not often used?

    • Oft read books lower down, not so oft used on top. And a cute wooden stool made by one of your children.

    • The shelves are just within reach for most of the teens and adults in our house if we really stretch, but we have chairs in nearly every room to make the books easier to reach.
      Books for younger children are down low, of course.

  3. Just in regards to sleeping, my kiddos wake with the sun, as did i as a child. 6ish in summer and 7:30ish in winter.

  4. Oh, yes, traditional Japanese futons are a great way to go. That’ s what we used when we lived in Japan. I was just looking at some this week.
    J-Life has them, so does Amazon.

    Here’s a how-to care guide:

  5. Love the picture of the shelves up by the ceiling. Last night, my husband and I were trying to figure out some space issues and I jokingly said we should put some shelves up by the ceiling and then today I see this picture– maybe we really will do it.

    • Stephanie, we have high shelves in several rooms. It’s a great way to open up floor space and keep things out of reach for little ones, while having them accessible for the big folk.

  6. Question #8 was excellent. I thought your name was Kog-lan. With a long “o” sound. And I have spelled it wrong on your blog and still have to look it up when I go to spell it. Never again. “Koff-lan” makes total sense. So glad you are enjoying your new home. My children have been sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags for 4-5 years now. 3 girls in a 12×12 room is a challenge. Before we make the 3 beautiful bunk beds, we are going to put down new flooring throughout the house. We hope after this summer we can start with the floors and move up from there. Oh, by the way, the girls are 20, 18, and 17. Their brothers are in a similar state in their room….Oh well. It’s in God’s hands. Why am I telling you all this….!?

    • I know why. Because you mentioned that the girls use bedrolls and move them out of the way during the day. And that’s what we do. Our shelving is also very similar. Boards and brackets. We have MANY books and so every room is hosting a mini library! Strangely, lots of Vision Forum books….Our shelves start at the top of the wall and work down as far as the room arrangements allow. For the same reason–SPACE!

  7. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    Oh and BTW, our son consistently woke up at 5:30am no matter what time we put him to bed — until we moved into our current house. Now he sleeps until 6-6:15am and sometimes later if we don’t wake him up (we need to wake him up for the family schedule)

    our baby wakes between 5:30 and 5:45am most mornings now. So our day begins at that time.

  8. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    Where did you get that ADORABLE coverlet for Bethany? We expect our 18mo to start crawling out of her crib come September and that is a perfect toddler bed covering.

    I think if I was Bethany I wouldn’t want to leave that bed!

    • Bethany’s beautiful quilt is a Happy Scrappy Quilt from Marie Madeline Studio. All of the children have them, and they are all just as stunning! The big girls use theirs daily, but for the little ones I struggle between wanting to put them away to save from wear and tear, and letting them love their quilts to death now. 🙂 Maybe we should hang them on the walls!

      • My Boaz's Ruth says:

        Ah. I’ve got one of those too. (Christmas gift 2010 when I was newly pregnant with her) Must be why it appealed!

        Mine is on the couch for family use. Maybe I should try it on her bed when she moves over.

  9. Oh my, I’ve been pronouncing it “colon” all this time. Glad you cleared that up!


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