Do you – or would you – have your children share a room? Sometimes room-sharing is a choice, and other times, it’s a necessity. After all, not every home has one bedroom per kid..
But whether by choice or necessity, similar issues may arise when you set up roommates of the non-rent-paying variety. How can kids get alone time? What if they have different bedtimes? What if they fight over toys or space?
We spoke to a few local mums (who have nailed the room sharing thing) and asked them to give us the low down on what having a sibling as a roommate means for your child, and how you can make sharing a bedroom a great experience for everyone.
Why Sharing a Room Can Be A Good Thing:
Although a lot of people seem to think sharing a room with a brother or sister is something to avoid, there are quite a few benefits that may shift your thinking..
Room sharing teaches siblings to develop patience and understanding, while reinforcing how to share, negotiate, and compromise with another.
Room sharing can be a major bonding experience, as kids share giggles, whispers and secrets after dark.
Room sharing can help children feel more comfort and security because they’re sleeping in the same room as their brother or sister. This can have a very positive impact on the little ones who suffer from nightmares or other bedtime related fears.
Why Sharing a Room Can Be A Not-So-Good Thing:
Although the advantages of sharing a bedroom are significant, there are also some disadvantages:
- Sharing a bedroom can cause conflict between kids who have different temperaments and personalities.
- Some older kids might have privacy issues.
- Kids that have different sleep schedules can disrupt one another.
Arguments may come up over wardrobe and storage space.
Solutions for Common Room Sharing Problems:
If you have a toddler and a baby that share a room and the baby still wakes at night, you may consider using white noise to muffle the other child’s snoring or mumbling throughout the night as this is a great way to keep your toddler asleep.
If you need to keep your older child busy while you feed and put your baby to sleep, consider putting together a “mystery box” of toys for your child to play with. You can fill it with two-dollar-shop finds, the bits and pieces you get in lolly bags at birthday parties and happy meal toys. You know, the crap that finds its way to the bottom of your purse or baby bag. You’ll be surprised at how long this stuff can keep your child entertained!
If you put your baby down to sleep before your older child, you’ll want their room to stay dark and quiet. Start a new tradition with your big kid of reading stories in your bed, or consider doing something different and fun like “camping” in the living room where you read stories in sleeping bags. Not only will your older child love the novelty of it, but you will also get to spend much-needed quality time together.
Make it Fun!
Getting your older child to stay quiet when you take her to bed can be challenging. So, make it fun. She may be enticed into whispering and tippy-toeing by being able to use something fun like a flashlight when she climbs into bed.
Expect the Inevitable
Be prepared for, and accept the fact that your kids WILL wake each other up every so often. Eventually they will learn to sleep through each other’s noise, but it always helps to have a back-up plan for the nights when they end up keeping each other awake. Consider setting up a portable cot in your room or another part of your home where you can move the baby for a night if necessary.
Respect Personal Space
Teenagers need their privacy. If there’s an option to separate opposite sex siblings before the first one hits puberty then that would be ideal. But if it’s not an option, try to create another area in the home where they can change in private and enjoy some of their own personal space.
As you can see, having your kids share a room is not mission impossible. It just takes a little time and patients. As long as your kids are getting along for the most part and getting enough sleep there’s no need to separate them. And hey, you may even be helping having them create a closer bond!