One Room To Save Them All: Your Kids And The Art Of Room Sharing
When we were kids, many of us shared rooms with our siblings. It was just a non-negotiable aspect of growing up, and we could like it or lump it as far as our parents were concerned. As much as we complained at the time, though, most of us found that room sharing was one of the best parts of our childhood home setups. After all, the mere act of sharing space at this age opens any child to all manner of benefits, including –
- A lesson in sharing
- A closer sibling bond
- A more open attitude to others
- A sleepover every day
- The ability to make more of less space
- And so on
Despite this, surprisingly few modern kids get to experience the joys, and imagined cons are primarily behind this shift. As houses have gotten generally bigger and we’ve adjusted to a far more private living setup, many parents simply shy away from trying room sharing, especially with mixed-sex children.
This is a reality that does look like it’s changing slowly, with many parents now opting to have kids share for at least their early years despite having space for a room each. If you’re considering doing the same, then know that it won’t be long before your kids, and you begin to notice the plus points of doing so.
That said, totally discarding potential downsides such as bickering, resentment, and your kids generally disturbing each other is never going to help you through. Instead, you need to know the risks and approach them in the following ways to make sure room-sharing still leads to peaceful nights for all.
Prepare your children with positive points
Whether you’re moving your baby in with your toddler or are merging two older kids into one room, the language you use during the prep stage is crucial for your chances of success. Obviously, you need to let your kids know what’s coming and give them at least a few weeks to get used to the idea, but painting this as a negative or something that they’re ‘going to have to deal with’ is always going to get things off on the wrong footing.
Instead, use positive language whenever you discuss the idea. That means no ‘this is happening’ hard-line. Instead, talk about how much fun it’ll be, or encourage them to look at it as some kind of adventure. You could even paint this as a sleepover that never ends. As simple as that, you should find that they’re more than happy to embrace at least those first few nights with an open mind and attitude. And, every parent knows that the first nights are the hardest.
Choose your timing wisely
The time at which you choose to integrate your children into one room also matters a great deal to your chances of success. In most cases, for instance, moving a younger baby straight into a toddler’s bedroom is often the best way to reduce bickering or other such irritating issues. That said, you need to be sure that both toddler and baby are at an age where such an arrangement is fair and workable.
Most notably, in this instance, parents often make the mistakes of moving a baby into their toddler’s room as soon as they reach the six-month stage. But, as much as this can seem like a good idea, you may find that your baby still doesn’t quite sleep through, or that sleep regression is soon to hit. Neither of which is fair on a toddler who needs their rest
Instead, then, be certain that you go through the struggle of surviving sleep regression before you even attempt this and make sure that your baby has been sleeping through the night for at least two months or more before you attempt to make the switch. Make sure, too, that your toddler is still young enough not to notice the loss of a private room. Get that right, and the rest should follow.
Honor both children’s sleep routines
A lot changes for your youngsters when they start sharing a room, and, as every parent knows, change isn’t always the positive experience we hope it will be. As such, you want to stick to routines elsewhere as much as you can. Most notably, you need to be certain that you’re still sticking rigidly to both children’s sleep routines.
For babies, especially, a sudden shift in sleeping patterns can lead to the restless nights you’ve worked so hard to overcome. Toddlers, too, can become grouchy and disgruntled if their sleep routines change or grow scattered.
Work hard, then, to keep putting each child down when you usually would, even though those times are likely somewhat different to each other as it stands. Pacing bedtimes is a good idea anyway, as it allows you to fully concentrate on getting each child ready and putting them to bed in turn. Plus, this makes it much more likely that both children will sleep as well as they ever have.
Don’t totally do away with personal space
As much as you’re aware of the benefits that can come with a transition into room sharing, your children are likely much more concerned about losing their personal space. After all, kids value the chance to escape to their private sanctuaries, even when they’re at a young age. And, if they suddenly feel like they have nowhere to escape to or express themselves, setbacks are far more likely.
Lucky for you, room sharing needn’t mean kissing goodbye to either child having a private space. Instead, you should work even harder to ensure that both children can feel as though they belong. Ultimately, the ways you do this are up to you, but creating clear sections for each child should be your main priority. Make it clear, for instance, that the sides of the room with their beds are just for them. Let them put posters up on the walls, and make it clear that permission still needs to be given for their sibling to cross into that area. Or, work to ensure your child’s privacy by arranging their toys in such a way as to make it clear who’s are who’s, and which of them can freely play with what.
This is especially easy if there are significant age differences between both children, as you could place your toddler’s toys on a shelf that a newborn would never be able to reach, etc. Even if both kids are a similar age, though, investing in particular storage box styles could be all it takes to make this distinction. Then, make it clear to each child that privacy is in place, even now that they’re sharing a room, and that they have to ask before borrowing or playing with anything that belongs to their sibling.
Use white noise to reduce distractions
Even if you’ve gone through sleep regression and both children are mostly sleeping through, there’s a significant risk that one would disturb the other if they did wake up. That’s terrible news as it means that you’d have two disgruntled kiddies to deal with in the night instead of one. And, it’s an issue that you can do away with using white noise machines.
Tools like these are fantastic for reducing distraction for peaceful newborn nights anyway, but placing them in a room where two kids are sharing can work even wilder wonders. This way, you needn’t ever worry about setbacks like illness or teething leaving your baby up crying nights. You’ll still be able to hear what’s happening on the monitor, but, in the room itself, that white noise should all but cover the wails to see your toddler sleeping soundly.
Be in it for the long-haul
It’s worth noting, too, that countless parents give up on the idea of room sharing after a few weeks or months of rough terrain. Even if making more space means moving house, those first nights really can be tough enough to make it seem worthwhile. But, trust us when we say that approaching room sharing for the long-haul really can see things calming down.
Remember that this is a huge change, and there’s every chance that, despite your best efforts, you’re set to face the downsides of this transition before any benefits become apparent. But, realizing that and determining to push through regardless is your best chance at success. Not to mention that making your kids stick at something even when they aren’t enjoying it is a fantastic way to pass on patience, a lesson that you surely want them to learn from you.
Room sharing might not be all smiles and sunshine, but approaching it with each of these tips in mind means that success should never seem too far from reach. Even when the going gets tough and both kids are bickering, crying, or hating the experience, keeping these go-to methods in mind can see you all coming out the other end and embracing room sharing as you do so.