When we bought our house I was pregnant with our first child. We always knew that we hoped to have more children one day. But despite this house only have 2 bedrooms upstairs we decided to go for it anyway. The bedrooms are huge and we figured the kids would be sharing a bedroom – easy as that.
We weren’t quite prepared for the reality of how it would all work out. My boys are now comfortably sharing a bedroom. And my eldest in particular is not keen to go to bed without his brother. The first few weeks were tough going. But with a few changes we soon found a way to make having children sharing a room not just a practical thing, but actually an enjoyable experience for us all.
Preparation Is Key
Making children aware of the changes that are coming is really important. In our circumstances, Piglet had used the bedroom as his own for almost 3 years. In order to ease the transition to a shared bedroom we put JJ’s bed into the room for quite a while before he actually started sleeping in it. That way, Piglet was accustomed to the additional bed and change in layout to the room.
If you have a second child moving in to one child’s bedroom it is a good idea to include them in the process. Ask them for ideas on where their siblings things can be stored. What would be a good place for their bed to go and things that they think should be included in the bedroom rules.
Set Some Rules
Having some ground rules for in the bedroom will make things easier for everyone. Setting the rules from the outset ensures that everyone is on the same page, and younger children in particular will benefit from knowing what to expect.
It may be that 10 minutes of chat time are allowed after the lights go out. But then after that silence is needed so they get to sleep. Or perhaps have the individual beds as “safe zones” where siblings are not allowed to go.
Allow For Personal Space
Sharing a bedroom doesn’t mean that kids have to forgo all privacy. It doesn’t matter if they have bunk beds (which we hope to get in the future) or individual beds (like we have at the moment). Their bed is one area that had be kept just for themselves. In our house it is the one part of the bedroom that they are allowed to say that their brother cannot go if they don’t want them there.
Their beds are also the area where they will be allowed to express themselves a bit more. As much as I love a beautifully matching bedroom, I am more than aware that children have differing tastes. I am allowing my boys to choose their own bedding. Which has the added bonus of encouraging them to sleep in their own beds too!
We are also looking at putting up new shelves in their room, one for each boy. This is going to be an area for them to store their own things. In general, all books and toys are shared in our house. However, I am aware that as they are getting older there will be a few bits and pieces that are more precious. These can be stored on their own shelf and siblings will know they are not to touch them.
Kids sleep schedules are pretty changeable! You may have had a routine that worked for 6 months and then suddenly find that it’s not going to plan anymore. There will likely be stages where having both children go to bed at the same time is what works, and others where they benefit from staggering bedtimes. Following their lead on what they need at any given time will be beneficial to you all. Equally – know when to stand your ground!
Room sharing definitely gets easier with time. There were points in the transition period where I regretted the whole thing and was mentally preparing the spare bedroom we have downstairs to become a childs room. 4 months on I’m sure they wouldn’t want to sleep apart. But had I caved in the early days I would never have known how great it could be.