Many of us feel frustrated by the challenges of siblings sharing a bedroom.
We often don't have a choice. However if you can make it work - without renovating or relocating - there are a few positive outcomes for kids that share a bedroom. Siblings that grow up sharing a room...
Are likely to develop a strong sense of community (i.e. sharing and giving).
Are likely to feel more closely connected to one another
But still, you may be asking yourself, “Is this going to work?!"
For many of us - especially my Denver readers - moving doesn’t seem viable in our seller’s market. I talk with SO many families who opt to continue living in their small bungalow because they enjoy the walkability to schools, stores, and restaurants, but still face the logistical challenges of a family sleeping arrangement.
Let’s look at some of the issues related to shared sibling rooms and try to offer helpful suggestions for making it work.
Pre. S. I realize that every family has different needs and you must do what works for your family. I provide a lot of anecdotes to what works for our family because that’s what I know. If you have additional ideas, please don’t hesitate to comment and add suggestions at the end of the post.
PROBLEM: YOU’RE AFRAID THEY WILL WAKE EACH OTHER UP AT NIGHT
This is the most obvious reason and 56% of you said this was your primary concern. My suggestion? Just try it. Crazy I know. My daughters, Nell (3.5) and Mona (10 months) now share a room. Most of the time, when the baby wakes up my oldest just sleeps right through it. We weren't really sure what to expect when we tried it. Turns out, it's not a big deal for our family.
Maybe this won’t be the case for you, but if you haven’t tried it, consider trying it and see what happens. In the first week of the girls sharing a space, Mike and I woke up around 7 am (slightly panicked) because the girls were both still in their room. (They are usually up around 5:30 or 6am). When we peeked into the room, Nell had crawled into Mona’s crib and they were playing quietly together. Sadly, that’s only happened a few other times. But when it does, we relish in the extra bit of sleep.
A Few Ideas:
Use a white noise machine between them. My oldest talks and whines when she is dreaming. A white noise between them not only helps them achieve deeper sleep, it also dampens some of the noise that might otherwise wake each other.
Keep the baby monitor. While you don’t want to set it so high that you wake up at every little whimper, keeping it on low can help you catch the real waking up early before one wakes the other.
Nap in different rooms. It’s likely they will nap for different lengths of time so keeping them separated will ensure they each get the sleep they need. My 3 year old thinks it’s a real treat to get to nap in Mom and Dad’s bed.
Don’t assume they need to go to bed at the same time. We now do our bedtime routine with our oldest who goes to sleep later, in our bed. Just as she is falling asleep we move her into her bed quietly.
Be mobile! One mom told me she wheels her baby’s crib into the dining room at night and puts it back in the morning. Now that’s creative!
PROBLEM: YOU’RE AFRAID OF HOW TO DEAL WITH THE CLUTTER AND LACK OF STORAGE
I have a confession. We did a renovation when I became pregnant with our second and created a playroom (later to be a bedroom) in our basement. So…yes. We have a place to store most of the toys. However…we still had to get creative about storage on our main level and in their bedrooms because that’s where most of the “living” happens.
A Few Ideas:
Invest in good looking storage in the living room. Personally, I hate looking at a bunch of toys scattered about the living room but there is very little toy storage in their bedroom. Before bedtime, we ask our 3 year old to help put away the toys. Not only does this help teach her personal responsibility, but also signals that bedtime is near.
Baskets, bins, and storage ottomans make it easy to sweep up the clutter at the end of the day. Want my best storage tip for living rooms? Instead of traditional side tables on each side of your sofa, consider a pair of clothes dressers. They are beautiful and have loads of storage for toys, remotes, dvd, etc.
Stack the Beds - Bunks, Trundles, and loft beds are king! Anyway that you can, try to stack the beds to free up more floorspace. Many families like the Ikea Kura Bed letting the baby sleep on the lower lever Montessori style.
Utilize Under-bed storage - Captains Beds (Beds with drawers underneath) are a great way to make the most of your space vertically. It may be possible to ditch a dresser all together (freeing up more floor space) if you can get their clothes to fit. Which brings me to my next point.
Learn the Konmari Fold. With two beds, we weren’t able to keep a dresser in the room. However, we did have some built-ins to work with. But we had to get all the clothes (including, hats, jackets, gloves, dresses, and shoes) to all fit. The Konmari folding method reduced the space needed for the clothes and also made it much easier to see clothing options.
PROBLEM: YOUR AFRAID THEY WILL NEED MORE PRIVACY
As kids get older, they inevitably will start to ask for their own space. You may not be able to change the the living arrangement but you can find ways to personalize their “zone” and create a little privacy. These efforts will go a long way.
A Few Ideas:
Create visual separation. It’s subtle, but something as simple as a canopy subconsciously creates a feeling of privacy. Fore greater privacy, consider hanging a curtain between the beds using the Ikea Dignitet Curtain Wire. It can be hung from the ceiling or the wall and it’s super easy to open and close.
Let them help design their space. When kids have the chance to be part of the design process and personalize their space, you are giving them the opportunity to be creative, allowing them to feel heard, and underscoring their individuality. For design enthusiasts, you may be cringing. “But what if she wants purple walls?!” That’s okay. Mama knows there are 1000’s of shades of purple. Give her 2 or 3 options you can personally live with. Other ideas to let them personalize their space include hanging their own art, picking out their bedding. Afraid you’ll get superman sheets if you do this, pick some options for them to chose from, or a company that has great choices for them and you take on less risk.
Hopefully some of these ideas can be useful as you navigate your options. Don't be afraid to give something new a try. You may discover that listening to your children giggle together at night before they fall asleep is one of the moments you cherish the most. If you have questions or suggestions please post in the comments section below. The perfect idea for you might already be at work in someone else's home.