When Hannah was born we decided that we wouldn’t try to force her on Jayce. Like, make him talk to her all the time, make him give her kisses, make him hold her if he didn’t ask to, etc. There was a lot of change in his life, going from an only child to a big brother, and we wanted to ease him into it a little bit. So they were often alongside of one another, but not really “together.”
Also, it kind of worked for our family dynamic and schedule to do things with them separately.
Hannah never took a bottle or formula so only I could feed her. I would feed her before dinner and she would have a little nap or swing while the rest of us ate. Then I would give her a bath while Chris played with Jayce. Then Chris would give Jayce a bath while I fed Hannah and put her to bed. Then we would take turns doing Jayce’s bedtime routine with him or spend some time just the 3 of us.
As time went on, even though the kids were bigger and could do things like bathe at the same time, we still did them separately. I think it was mostly just out of habit and it gave us each some one on one time with them.
Once Chelsea’s move to London went from a possibility to an it’s happening, we knew we had a decision to make regarding our living arrangements. We live in a 3 bedroom flat. Should we move to a bigger place with more bedrooms, move Hannah into our room, or Hannah into Jayce’s room? We decided on the latter.
We were a little unsure about how this would all go down, because though Jayce is good with Hannah, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he likes her. There is no sort of protectiveness or paternal instinct for her. It would be most accurate to say that Hannah loves Jayce, and Jayce tolerates Hannah well.
So we put them in the same room.
We ordered a new bed for him. He had previously had a double in his room that was perfect when it was just him, but a bit of a tight squeeze once we added her (US sized) crib. (The baby cots here are all significantly smaller I think to accommodate smaller bedrooms.)
A bit of a squeeze, but just temporary.
Now that they would be sleeping in the same room we needed to align their bedtimes and routines. For the most part we’ve been giving them their baths at the same time, but then putting Hannah straight to bed while Jayce had a bit more time for quiet play and stories. But now we’ve pushed Hannah’s bedtime back a bit and put them to bed together.
The first night, we didn’t do anything too crazy as far as trying to set up a new bedtime routine or whatever. We just put her crib in his room, read his story to him while she was in her crib, and then turned out the light and left.
Our friends had warned us that it would take forever for them to fall asleep that night. That they would be up giggling and playing and too excited to sleep. But that wasn’t the case.
Actually, Jayce’s irritation of Hannah worked in our favor that night. I could hear her saying, “Jayce! Jayce! Jayce? Where is Jayce? Where you gone?” And then silence.
It turns out that Jayce’s unwillingness to chat with Hannah and his irritation at her being in his room worked magic on getting him to sleep. He pulled his covers over his head so that she would stop talking to him, and was so focused on that that he fell asleep. He didn’t get out of bed a million times to ask for a million things, flop around in his bed, get up for water and bathroom trips and extra kisses goodnight. He just fell asleep. And when he was quiet, she fell asleep too.
The strangest thing has happened since we’ve had them in the same room. They have kind of become little buddies.
Not in a “Jayce rushes out of school to greet Hannah” sort of way. More subtle than that.
More like, he doesn’t get annoyed when she climbs up on the couch to sit with him. He will even share sandwiches with her.
He even lets her sit with him to watch a little tv and doesn’t get annoyed if she’s touching him. Sometimes he’ll hold her hand while she walks down the steps or after school when we’re going back inside. She has started randomly giving him hugs and snuggles throughout the day, and sometimes he gives them back. We have praised him for being so kind or sharing so well with her, so sometimes he’ll do something nice and then immediately tell us about it for some positive re-enforcement. This doesn’t bother me a bit. Now that Jayce has his new bed, she climbs in to read one of her books while he reads us stories before bed. When stories are over she goes into her crib without a peep.
Actually, they usually wait until we’re downstairs before there is a peep.
It turns out that we’ve had belated combined room “post-bed time giggling and chatting and playing together and not going to sleep.” Sometimes we go up and tell them to keep it down, but sometimes I just let them wear themselves out.
It’s like they’re friends. 🙂