We had no choice but to do a shared bedroom for our two from the start, but I love it and wouldn’t think to separate them even if we could! I enjoy being able to do our sleep routine as a family in the same space. It flows seamlessly, especially with such a close age gap of 19 months. I like reaching in the same closet for their clothes, rallying around the same bed for nighttime stories and seeing them interact freely together. It has been amazing for their own bonding.
I’m asked this a lot: Don’t they wake each other up? This has not been an issue. They are used to one falling asleep before the other one, and so we’ve had tons of practice modeling the social courtesy of being quiet when someone is sleeping. If they are both sleeping but one wakes up at night, there isn’t loud crying because they have the freedom to get out of the floor bed to come get us. My husband and I have maintained that we are available. I think this reassurance and continued nighttime parenting is what has made wake-ups rather calm and uneventful, but this is just what works for us.
The only “issue” is in keeping each other up, not waking each other up. We’ve noticed them playing together after we say goodnight. This is where instilling “quiet play” has come in handy. The toys that we include in their bedroom are activities that help them wind down, not ramp them up. Secretly, though, I don’t even consider this an issue – I adore overhearing them play together the older they get. My only limits are that their play truly stays quiet, and that they lie down to fall asleep at an appropriate hour.
Have a look!
As we discovered more of Montessori, the floor bed concept grew with us and took on deeper meaning. My son has been using one since 12 months old and my daughter has been using one since about 3-4 months old, mostly for naps. It wasn’t until we moved here, at ages 2.5 and 1, when they began using this floor bed for overnight sleep as well, so I can’t personally speak to how this works from birth full-time, but here’s a great blog that discusses why many Montessori families implement this sleep arrangement from birth. Our frame is from ZipadeeKids, and we made sure to get the optional slats so that the mattress can breathe underneath.
Their old shared bedroom was designed for safety with an infant/toddler in mind. Here, their space has evolved to reflect greater independence appropriate for a toddler, preschooler. Today, they are now 19 months and 3. One of the key differences is that we had two separate mattresses when they were younger, and no extra pillows or blankets. Now they are sharing one mattress. I don’t recommend a shared sibling bed for any child who is under the age of 12 months for purposes of safe sleep guidelines.
So, why a floor bed? The accessibility is key, and the fact that they can independently get up and down on their own. The house frame is just an added design that is popular right now. Personally, if I could go back, I would do without the house design. I don’t like the bulk it visually adds to the space. The kids, however, love it! Thankfully, we haven’t had issues with them trying to climb it, but that would be another downfall to consider with the house-style frame.
In Montessori, we value finding ways to help our children do more for themselves. We replaced the traditional diaper-changing station with this self-care station. The child-sized dressing chairs are different heights for their different ages, and the mirror is hung to their level, not mine. Here, I guide my children in getting changed, putting on shoes, brushing their hair, trimming their nails, wiping their faces. This makes it something we do together, not something just done to them. Even their laundry hamper is a short, wide basket so that they can more easily toss their own dirty clothes inside.
I bought $5 pressure rods from Target, where I hang their wardrobes within arms reach. I use the taller rods for storing the bulk of their season’s clothes that would be too much to display at once. My 3-year old has more options out at once than my 1.5-year old. We re-purposed this cube shelving to hold underwear, socks, pajamas, shirts, bottoms. I like this better than a dresser because it is safe and easy for them to navigate. It does not hold as much as a traditional dresser, but that helps promote our goal of having a moderately-minimalist amount of clothes.
We re-purposed this traditional bookshelf, which has been replaced with a forward facing reading nook, as open shelving for quiet play. The yoga cards are a huge hit with my 3-year old at the moment! Nothing battery-operated, noisy, bright in here, just open-ended and quiet.
That’s it! These are the main elements of their shared bedroom with Montessori principles in mind. I have goals to add more family photos and plants over time, but that’ll be a while. I also have one more corner of this room that I am working on, their “escape space,” but I will highlight it separately because I have a lot of thoughts to share about what this is and why it’s beneficial.
When it comes to safety, I personally feel that my kids are safer in this layout than my son’s old traditional nursery, where I would have to worry about climbing the crib, getting stuck in the rails and towering furniture. The floor bed makes you, as the parent, ensure the entirety of their room is safe; You shift your thinking from containing them in a room too big to instead making the room just right for them.
We make sure all of the electrical outlets are covered, we ensure the mirror and decor are securely fastened to the walls, and we make sure that their freedom to leave stops within an appropriate point of the home. We do not have any stairs, but if we did, that would entail a gate, for example. We also have child-proof measures on the exterior doors. We currently keep the cord on the blinds pinned up high, but we will soon be replacing those to cordless, as well.
It’s a shift in perspective that feels deeply respectful. In a world that is designed for adults, I believe this is the one space that they should be able to navigate freely. I can’t imagine if my bedroom had a bed I couldn’t reach without climbing, a dresser with drawers too heavy to pull, a closet with clothes too high to choose, a chair too big to sit, and a mirror too high to see my own face. And yet, I never would have thought that this would be practical to consider for such young children, but that was before I knew how capable babies, toddlers and preschoolers truly are.
Want to see this transformation in its entirety? Here was our first attempt at a room for my son with an “under the sea” nursery! When I realized how little this room actually engaged him, and how nothing was at his level, it motivated me to see if there was an alternative way.