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Today I’m interviewing Nina from Sleeping Should Be Easy about her creative living space.

Hi Nina! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up needing a creative living space.

I’m Nina, a mom to three boys: a four-year-old and one-year-old twins. My husband and I live in a two-bedroom apartment with our boys sleeping in the kids room. We had planned for two kids, with both of them sharing the room. So when we found out we were having twins, we weren’t sure if the arrangement would work. Thankfully, it does!

Their bedroom consists of one twin bed (for my four-year-old) and two cribs (for the twins). We also have a changing table, a low shelf for books and toys, and two closets. They have one container for stuffed animals and another one for random knickknack toys.

Did you start all three kids off in one room after the twins were born?

After we brought the twins home, they slept in separate bassinets in our room. My eldest had the kids room all to himself for the first few months.

What were the logistics of getting all three kiddos to peacefully coexist in one room?

The time came for the twins to move in with their big brother. We sleep-trained them together in the kids room while my four-year-old slept on a floor mattress in our room during this period. Once the twins were sleeping through the night, we moved our four-year-old back into their room.

How did you get everyone on the same sleeping schedule?

Thankfully (or not!) our eldest didn’t nap anymore, so we didn’t have to worry about timing their nap schedules. At night time though, we start the twins’ bath earlier at 6:45pm so that they’re in bed by 7:15pm. My four-year-old hops into the tub right after the twins are done and begins his bath time routine. After playing, dressing, reading, a worksheet and singing songs, we walk our eldest into their room no later than 8pm. By that time, the twins are sound asleep. Then they all sleep until 7am (or at least aren’t allowed to be up and about until 7am!).

Because they share a room, they’ve been good about tuning one another out. One baby could be bawling his eyes out, but the other two would continue sleeping. Sometimes they wake each other up, but we go in to check and tuck them in and they’re back to sleep.

What about their stuff? Do you store some of their clothes/toys outside of the bedroom? Or do you keep their belongings pretty streamlined?

We have a few toys in their bedroom, but because the living room is larger, we tend to play in that area. In both rooms—bedroom and living room—we have low shelves filled with books and toys they can access. Like you, we rotate toys when we notice they haven’t been played with in a while. We keep these in their bedroom closet and in the hallway storage closet. And we don’t hesitate to donate, recycle or discard toys they’ve outgrown or are worn down.

Their room has two closets, so we use the smaller one solely for our eldest and the larger one for storage (for instance, clothes that my eldest has outgrown but we save for the twins). The twins’ changing table has two drawers that we use for their current clothes.

How long do you see this arrangement working for you?

In the far future, I’d love to move into a three-bedroom house, not necessarily for the extra room, but for the autonomy and the yard and the easy access (not to mention having your own washer and dryer!). Our apartment actually has more square feet than many houses in our area. So space-wise, we’re okay. But if we were to move, I would have my eldest in his own room and the twins in another.

For now, we don’t have any plans to move. My son is in the twin bed and the twins are in their own cribs that we will convert into toddler beds. When they graduate to twin beds, we’ll buy a bunk bed and put the eldest on top and one of the twins on the bottom, with the third one sleeping in my son’s current twin bed.

I don’t know if we’d have space to put desks in their room, which would be another perk of living in a three-bedroom: we’d be able to provide a desk for each in their own bedrooms.

Why aren’t we moving just yet? Mostly because of costs. Childcare and preschool eat up a lot of our budget (we live in a high cost-of-living city). So we’re hanging in there until 2018 when all three kids will be in public school, freeing up a huge amount of money to move.

What are some of the challenges and benefits of having three kids in one room?

Some days I think, “I wish they had their own rooms.” Namely when the twins are supposed to sleep and one is crying while the other is desperately trying to tune him out and fall asleep.

Other than that, it’s a great arrangement for my kids. They genuinely get along so well and prefer each others’ company to being alone. They learn to be considerate, to tune noises out, to share, and to feel reassured in having someone nearby. For the last several weeks, one of my twins will whimper in his crib until he knows his twin brother is also safely tucked in in his. It’s a sweet gesture, and for that I’m grateful we’ve been able to get creative with their sleeping space.

Thank you Nina! I love hearing stories about people making the space they have work – especially when they’re putting off their ideal in order to make sound financial decisions!

How about you? How are you getting creative with your living space?

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Nina is a working mom to three boys (a preschooler and toddler twins). Her blog, Sleeping Should Be Easy, offers useful tips and insightful discussions about parenthood. Click here to read Nina’s 14 Principles of Effective Parenting.