Our three children share a bedroom. That’s right; all three in one room. I was reading somewhere on the interwebs (and I cannot think where now for the life of me – if you read it too, let me know please so I can link it) about a family who was just starting the whole room sharing business, and were looking for some tips.
Hannah and Meg have been sharing a bedroom since Meg was 7 months old – so just over 7 years. Our house in the mountains had three small rooms, so we popped the two of them in the same room, and kept a spare one. When Toby came along, we decided to put him in his own room once he was sleeping through the night (well sort of), mainly because there wasn’t enough room in the girls room for him.
When we moved to the farm, we inherited two very large bedrooms, and a very small third bedroom that was off the back veranda. It seemed logical to put all three kids in the larger room, near ours. The third room became a guest room/ store room for my teaching gear. So all three have been sharing for three and a half years now.
For us the greatest benefit has been the closeness between the three siblings. There are countless nights where all three kids have been lying in bed chatting away for half an hour before they drop off to sleep. They really are each other’s best buddies. No matter what the disagreements have been that day, once they are in bed, they are happy to be with each other.
Of course there is the added benefit of a guest room for our frequent visitors.
So down to some practicalities, here is how we manage some of the issues that can arise when kids share bedrooms:
All three kids are now (unfortunately) past the day sleep phase. When we had two doing day sleeps, we’d usually put the older child to sleep in our bed. This was particularly important when their sleep times weren’t in sync. The older child quickly got used to this system, and it was never an issue.
These days, I enforce read and relax during school holidays, and sometimes even on weekends. I let them choose whether to do it in their bedroom, or on the spare room beds. Even when all three are in the one room, they know that they are expected to read quietly and independently and they do so.
Personal space and belongings.
Our kids are fortunate to have a separate play room, so toys are not kept in the bedroom (with the exception of a Teddy or two). The girls each have their own cupboard with drawers and a shelf. They keep their ‘precious’ personal belonging in their cupboard (think special headbands, craft creations, pocket money etc). Toby does not have a place in the bedroom for his own belongings yet, though it is on the list of things to do as he gets older. His clothes are kept in a chest of drawers, and we have a basket of books for him to read on top of the drawers.
So far as personal space goes, none of the kids particularly seem to want more than they have. Perhaps having lots of room outdoors and in the rest of the house is enough for them at the moment. I can see the time coming, where Hannah (10 years old) will be less happy to share with Toby (4 years), but at this stage they are happy to share.
Different bedtimes, and keeping each other awake.
These days, Toby has a slightly earlier bedtime (7.30pm) than the girls (8.00pm). About two years ago, we found that Hannah was just not tired enough to sleep at 7.30pm and would keep the others awake with her antics. By keeping her up half an hour later (usually to read), we found that they all settled better. These days both Hannah, and Meg stay up till 8.00pm. We have family bible time at 7.20pm (most nights), by which time all the kids are bathed, and in pyjamas ready for bed. Once Toby goes to bed, the girls read a novel in the loungeroom. It’s a really nice way to wind down for the day. At 8.00pm the girls head into their room. They don’t need to turn the overhead light on to hop into bed.
Sometimes Toby is still awake, and the three of them will chat to each other for a little while. If it gets too boisterous, or goes for too long, CB or I will just go to the door and tell them it is quiet time now. In rare cases (I can’t remember when I last did it) I may sit in the doorway for 10 minutes to enforce quiet until they drop off.
We have one set of bunks that the girls share, with Hannah on the top. It is the bane of my existence to change the sheets, and the girls struggle to make their beds properly, but it is a definite space saver. Toby has his own single bed on the opposite side of the room. Besides the beds, there is only Toby’s chest of drawers, and a large Ikea modular wardrobe which holds all the girls clothes, plus a whole lot of storage for guest linen, hand me down clothing, and other bits and pieces. I have heard of other families trying to make sure that the kids can not see each other when they lie down, but we haven’t had to do this.
Overall, having our kids share a bedroom has been a really positive thing for our family. The closeness and friendship between our kids has far outweighed any problems that have popped up. The issues that did arise we have managed to solve. We have been able to have a guest room ready for house guests, making the whole process a lot easier. With a house renovation on the horizon, we will be gaining a fourth bedroom. Hannah has said that she would like her own room, when the time comes, but both Meg and Toby are keen to keep sharing for a while yet, for which I am very glad.
Do you have kids that share a bedroom? Have you had any problems? What has worked for your family?