Siblings Sharing Rooms: How to Make It Work (And Why It's Worth Trying)
If you have a home with fewer bedrooms than there are family members, having your kids share a bedroom is an obvious space-saving solution. Some parents hesitate to do so since sibling rivalries or a need for privacy can make getting along difficult. However, there are several benefits to room sharing as long as you take the right steps to set up a shared space successfully.
Benefits of Children Sharing Rooms
In addition to saving space, there are many benefits to children sharing a room. Kids who share a bedroom with a sibling often have an advantage when it comes to personality and social development, leading to success in many areas and stages of life. Whatever age your children are, teaching them how to share a bedroom encourages them to learn some essential life skills.
When kids learn how to share a bedroom, they spend a good deal of time together talking, playing and just being in each other's presence. Naturally, they'll also share their feelings, thoughts and ideas. Through this process, siblings can learn how to understand each other, respect their feelings and develop patience, becoming more caring and empathetic.
Empathy is a crucial skill for the social lives of both kids and adults. Developing this ability early gives a child time to develop a healthy sense of compassion they can use throughout their lives when building new friendships, interacting with coworkers or making romantic relationships work. Empathy can also help them develop an open mindset early on, allowing them to become more accepting of others.
Becoming A Better Classmate/Co-Worker
If your kid has experience with shared spaces, they're better equipped to handle similar scenarios in the future. From sharing a dorm in college to moving in with a significant other, children who have shared a bedroom before have a good understanding of common conflicts and resolutions. They're able to respect when someone needs personal space and are more lenient when sharing possessions.
Getting More Sleep
After a bad dream, your child might wake up frightened and come to your bedroom seeking comfort, disturbing your sleep and creating stress. However, when kids share a bedroom with a sibling, they might turn to each other for comfort, whether they discuss the nightmare or just feel better knowing their brother or sister is in the room with them.
This comforting behavior benefits parents and encourages healthier sleep patterns in children. Rather than waking up to run into their parent's bedroom, kids often fall back to sleep faster and may sleep more soundly with a sibling in the room. With fewer disruptions and a faster return to rest, kids get the sleep they need for healthy brain development.
Developing a Tighter Family Bond
As siblings spend more time together, they may look to each other for comfort, security and understanding. Plus, they'll be playmates and can help each other with homework or studying. With more opportunities to play and have important conversations, children develop stronger bonds with siblings of the same or different ages.
Sharing a room with a sibling gives a child an opportunity to express their needs in a healthy manner. One child might want to play while the other prefers a different or more solo activity such as reading. Rather than having an argument or letting shyness get the best of them, your kid has a safe space to communicate confidently and assert their boundaries.
This constructive behavior boosts their confidence and allows kids to not only be social and close with siblings but also to explore their interests and hobbies. Setting boundaries can help them make lasting friendships in school, recognize their limits in a career and understand expectations in future relationships.
Sharing a Room Successfully
Brothers and sisters sometimes engage in sibling rivalry. Sharing a bedroom could either worsen these problems or make them better. Age, gender and personality differences can cause problems, making it difficult for kids to get along. Consider the complications that could arise from kids of different ages and genders sharing a bedroom and be proactive about dealing with issues.
Time it Right
Timing is everything when your kids need to share a bedroom, which is easier to plan if you have a spare room in your home, but some parents may not have a choice. Still, it's important to make sure your child is ready to share their space. For example, your oldest child may not feel ready to share their room with a toddler or younger child, so you might have to prepare them.
Ideally, you should wait until the youngest can sleep through the night to avoid disturbing the eldest's sleep schedule and habits. If you have more than two children, the older kids may be willing to share a bedroom at least until they express a need for more privacy, depending on age or personality differences.
Give Them Their Own Personal Space
Kids need personal space to develop their individual interests, hobbies and personalities. Personal space gives them a safe place to be themselves where they can study, read, play a game and reflect on what matters to them. Introverted children especially need privacy to feel comfortable.
Not everything in your kids’ bedroom needs to be shared. Designate areas of the room where each child can keep their belongings secure and physically set aside room for alone time by using their own bed, decor and other furniture. Give your kid personal space in a shared bedroom with:
- Room Dividers: Large bookcases and folding screens separate spaces in your kids' room, and most designs let kids decorate to suit their taste. Room dividers also give kids of different genders or ages some privacy when they're changing clothes.
- Curtains, Tents and Canopies: Hanging a curtain inside the room as a divider or choosing a tent bed or canopy bed provides an accessible getaway for kids who need personal space in their shared bedroom.
- Bedding: Allowing your kids to choose the bedding, throw pillows and other accents needed to style their beds lets them show off their personality and encourages individuality in a shared space.
- Color Palettes: If you're able to change the color of the walls in your kids' room, you might consider painting the room in each kid's favorite hue to emphasize individual tastes. Or, if your kids agree on a soothing color palette that incorporates both, you can foster a tighter bond.
Talk to Your Children
Communication is key among siblings and also between kids and parents. Whether you're moving to a new home or have a baby on the way, talk to your kids about room sharing, why it's necessary and how it will benefit them both. Be clear and positive but willing to listen to what they have to say in return.
If problems arise during the initial stages of sharing a bedroom, talk it out with each kid. Sometimes older children express a need for privacy as they go through certain stages of growth or have different needs when it comes to sleep, school and socializing. Understand their needs, consider alternatives and use logic to decide whether your kids should still share a room.
Consider Bunk Beds
The benefits of bunk beds include saving space and creating visual boundaries. Vertical furnishings in shared rooms leave more floor space for activities and additional furniture or decor. Meanwhile, having a bed above and below separates kids while they sleep, read, play on tablets or study, which is useful during conflicts or when kids need their personal space.
Schedule Sleep Times
While you can streamline bedtimes for kids that are about the same age, getting children of different ages to fall asleep at the same time can be a challenge. Giving older kids a bedtime at least an hour after toddlers and kindergarteners is ideal since it gives the youngest time to fall asleep.
When it comes to nap time, consider separating your kids and rotating where they nap. This approach ensures siblings actually fall asleep rather than using naptime to play or talk. Have one kid sleep in their room and let the other child rest in your bedroom. Swapping out nap locations each day helps prevent arguments over preferences.
Younger children don't work out disagreements like most adults, so you'll have to help them manage conflict. Provide a list of rules kids can follow to help settle arguments. For example, if one sibling creates a mess and refuses to clean it up, enforce a rule about kids straightening up their own messes.
Siblings might argue over various things, from stolen belongings and borrowing clothes to the smell of the room or a lack of space, but shared bedrooms give kids a lot of advantages and essential skills. With a little forethought and planning, parents can create a shared bedroom for their kids and take a proactive approach to prevent squabbling so that siblings can reap the benefits in the long run.