If like us, your family has grown faster than your house, you may have kids sharing a room. Our two daughters share, and for now, that’s the way it has to be. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, sharing a room can be extremely beneficial in teaching kids essential life skills such as being able to compromise, showing respect for others, flexibility and conflict resolution.
I think if you can successfully share a bedroom with your sibling, you can cope with pretty much anything. However, it doesn’t come without its challenges. Or full-scale battles, I should say. But before you go to the expense of adding another storey to your house, there are many simple ideas that will help siblings feel comfortable in their space, and happier to share it – at least some of the time anyway.
1. Use all available space
One of the difficulties of sharing a bedroom is the lack of physical space for each child. My daughters’ bedroom is already on the smaller side, and each year as they grow and receive a few more presents each birthday and Christmas, it shrinks a little more. So, we’ve had to make the most of what space there is, vertically and well as horizontally. Bunkbeds are a terrific space-saving idea as are loft-style beds, which have space underneath for a desk or storage. You can also make the most of all available wall space to lift everything off the floor and create a less cluttered feel. We have found having a collection of fun wall hooks very handy, as well as floor-to-ceiling open shelving, which offers accessible and streamlined storage.
2. Personal style
Let each child have a say on how the room looks and let each personalise the space in some way. Maybe they can choose their own picture or poster, or even a feature wall in a colour or wallpaper of their choice. An easy option is to let them choose their sheets, doona cover and throw cushions for their bed. And if you can manage it, try to give each child a corner of the room to set up as they like with their own toys or beanbag. If each sibling has the opportunity to make choices about the overall look, then they will enjoy the room a lot more and feel that at least part of it, is their very own.
3. Rules about sharing
When your kids share a room, this means that they’re already sharing quite a lot, both physically and emotionally. But that doesn’t mean they have to share every single one of their possessions with each other. While both our girls are for the most part, very generous, we have the rule that they are not allowed to touch each other’s stuff without asking first. If not, there would be chaos. They both know what it’s like to suddenly find their favourite toy is not where it should be, and they don’t much like it. And fair enough. So set the rules from the start, and it will help avoid any tears, squabbles and misunderstandings.
4. Designated spaces
While you may not have much room, it’s helpful to have separate storage spaces for each child to store their things. Having individual bookshelves is a great idea, so they can set out their own books, toys and ornaments without having to accommodate those of their sibling. Plastic tubs are fantastic for stowing away all their many bits and pieces, especially if they are colour-coded, according to each sibling. This means everything is completely separate with no confusion – and it’s much easier for both kids to do a quick tidy-up as they know exactly where their toys need to go.
5. Maintain separate bedtimes
Just because your kids share a room, doesn’t mean they should have the same bedtime either – unless they are twins, of course. Bedtime should still relate to their age. My daughter is three and a half years older than her sister, so we have always let her go to bed a little later. This also gives our younger daughter a little bit of peace and quiet to wind down and have quality one-on-one reading time with my husband or me. She falls asleep, and then the older daughter can then have her special time with us before she goes to bed. And everyone is happy.