Q&A: another one of those tangled-up multi-kid sleep cluster@#$%s

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Alison writes, with the subject line "Can't Sell 'Em":

Well, probablysomewhere I could sell at least one of them but I think the grandparents would prefer if I held on to both of them. I have a daughter 21 months and a son 3 months and I think I am about to lose my mind.  Lord... who thought this was a good idea?  I could list about 17 questions about how to keep either one of them alive, but I'll stick to a practical appeal for strategy.

We live in a 2 bedroom house.  Son sleeps in a bassinette in our room until my husband comes to bed at which time said bassinette is dragged into the hallway.  I go out and nurse in the living room as needed, while Sweet T sleeps away in her own room, in her own crib.  However, soon Nate is going to be too big for the bassinette. He can graduate into the Family Bassinette (source of many a hilarious in-law tale) or, presumably, into Sweet T's crib.  I have no idea how to do this.  Do I move T into her own bed first? Do everyone at once? What about Nate waking T up when he wakes to nurse once they're finally sharing a room? I usually hear him before he gets to a full-blown wail, living in fear as I do that Sweet T will wake up, especially on nights when Daddy is at work. Oh my. I get all in knots just thinking about it... They're going to have to share a room, probably sooner rather than later.  Normally my one-day-to-be-copywrited catchall "it's only a problem if you hate the solution more" or its sister "it's either a good time or a good story" would get me through this but I have no solution to even hate and God knows I have enough stories to tell as it is (The One Where Talia Doesn't Want to Leave the Aquarium; The One When Talia "Shares" the Chopsticks with Nate's Eyes").  Any previous learning to share a room experiences would be GREATLY appreciated, especially with this particular age spread. "

So here is my advice: Call the grandparents and get them to come to your house for a week. Go on kayak.com and book flights for you and your husband to somewhere else for said week. When you come back, the grandparents will have worked their 1970s magic on your kids and they'll both be sleeping through the night in their own cribs.

No? Yeah, the '00s kind of suck for parenting, don't they?

I have no experience with this particular age spread, so I'm going to have to ask the readers for specifics about kids 18 months apart (I think I would have just melted into a puddle of tears and inadequacy if faced with that spread). But I have to say that I think that some of this is borrowed fear, and that if you can try to work yourself around into a (perhaps completely fake) position of just Taking It As It Comes, you might be able to weather the transition better.

A little strategy: There sees to be a window right around 5.5-6 months or so in which babies are sometimes much more malleable about sleeping, and this might be the best time to move him (if you can wait that long--he might be a baby Hercules and grow out of the bassinet way before that). Plenty of parents find that what they think is going to be a grueling switch ends up to be a couple of nights of discombobulation but nothing more at that age. So don't tie yourself in knots about it, when it could go perfectly easily.

Also, your daughter may or may not even wake up when her brother wakes up to nurse. Since you get there really soon (and probably have some of that mom sixth sense thing going on that wakes you up right when he wakes up), she may not even notice it. Or she may wake up and then go back to sleep again right away.

I, personally, would not move everyone all at once, as that leaves way too many variables, and if it all goes to crap in the first few nights you won't have any idea which things to back off of and which ones to continue on with. If there isn't a pressing reason to move your daughter out of her crib, then I wouldn't do it (unless shes one of those kids who's trying to get out on her own because she's insulted by the crib, in which case she might sleep better in a Big Girl bed). Is there an option of borrowing another crib so they can each be in their own cribs until your daughter's really ready to switch?

Once you've decided when you're going to do this, and who's going to be sleeping in which bed, I'd pick a day that your husband will be home and able to do some night parenting for a couple of nights in a row. Then just switch your son into his new bed in the kids' room and see what happens. Keep the rest of the routine as similar as you can to what you've been doing, and give it three nights to settle.

Readers, has anyone faced two kids with similar spacing? How did you get them sleeping in the same room without waking each other? Do you think we could get together some kind of Service Corps of Retired Parents to come get our kids to sleep for us?