Friday, August 12, 2011

To Share a Room, Or Not Share a Room...

That's the big question at my house this month.  Reasons for room sharing are vast, but most center largely on two factors, (a) necessity, there just aren't enough rooms in the house and (b) the parents want siblings co-exist in the same room to build better relationships.  Which is better? Well, it depends.  Here are some pros and cons to consider.


The most obvious benefit is that kids learn to live with someone else.  They learn to negotiate decorating a room together and cleaning when one child is messier than the other (ehem, good practice for marriage, perhaps).  Good behavior can also rub off on the other child, like seeing a sibling reading, or drawing, or investigating sciency-stuff in their room.  And finally, parents of room-sharing kids often say that the biggest plus is that at night time, when dark shadows and overactive imaginations bring out worry in some kids and they don't like to be alone, having another sibling close by quells some of the night time fear.


On the other hand, I shared a room with my sister growing up, and I can attest that with regards to room maintenance, bad behavior rubbed off more than good.  You would think that one of us would be cleaner than the other, but we seemed to augment each other's hurricane of clothes, books, toys, and trinkets on the floor until seeing the carpet was nigh near impossible.  My dad would have to threaten to throw all our stuff in the dumpster to jump start our bi-monthly room cleaning extravaganza.

Other parents complain of children waking and keeping each other up during the night.  Some kids spur competition, ("I want a drink."  "Me too!"  "I need to go potty."  "ME TOO!") making bed time practically impossible.   This not-so-good bed time behavior is clearly not constructive or helpful in relieving bed time headaches.

As kids get older, the biggest drawback may be privacy.  If y'all remember growing up, having an ALONE space to go to was sometimes very necessary.


None of the downsides have to keep your kids from sharing a room.  If space is limited...well, there's not much logical reasoning that can do anything about that.  Room sharing will have to happen, but bringing all the variables into the decision may change subtle nuiances of how you go about doing it..  Experts do advise though with older children, if room-sharing and single rooms are both an option, to bring the kids in on the decision making process.  Kids know best whether or not their sibling friendship can stand the test of sharing a room.  You might want to try a weekend sleepover to see if it works!


My kids are NOT in the rational, "older" kids category to have a discussion with.  My boy is two.  My baby's 3 months.  We don't have room for them NOT to share a room, and I want my baby out of my room.  Neither of us is getting good sleep with things as they are.  My kids will have to share a room.
 I'm just not sure how to get things rolling.

So, what are your thoughts?  What do you remember (pros and cons) of sharing a room with your sibling?  For those of you with kids, what kept you from putting them in the same room?  At the same time, for parents who have kids sharing a room, how did you do it?  I need help.  I don't see how it'll work.  My toddler will SO wake my baby up any chance he gets.  Not good.  I really appreciate your comments.  Thanks much!



Heather said...

A few words on young children sharing rooms:

My daughter was 3 and my son 1 week old when they started sharing a room. It really does work. The first 3 nights are possibly a little rough. I still had my baby nap in my room so my 3 year old could play and nap in her room during those times (babies sleep so much, it just seemed more fair.) But at night, they went to bed in the same room. There were nights when my baby would keep my 3 year old up--as he was getting older, he jabbered and jabbered and and my daughter couldn't go to sleep. On those nights, I would ask her if she wanted to start the night off on my bed and then I'd move her into her room after she fell asleep before I went to bed. These nights were probably once a month or so for a while. But, after a bit, they both learned to go to sleep through each others noises. My 3-year old NEVER woke up when the baby woke in the night. The baby also learned how to sleep more soundly. It does take probably one rougher week, but after that--COMPLETELY worth it to have my room back to myself.

Megan said...

My kids currently share a room. My son is 3 and my daughter is 4 months. My daughter naps in my room during the day but sleeps in her crib during the night. She normally wakes up at least once and has never woken my 3 year old up since she has slept in there. I wait to put Emily in her crib until Lucas is asleep because then he isn't tempted to talk to her while going to sleep.

As for your other questions, until I was 6 all four of the oldest kids in my family shared one room because we lived in a two bedroom house and it worked fine. When we moved to a bigger house I shared a room with one of my little sisters until I was 16 and my oldest sister moved out. Occasionally we would switch off which sister was sharing what room so that it would seem like we had a new room. My brother always had his own room, as he was the only boy. I can remember having epic battles over cleaning with my parents because our room was too messy and I can remember putting masking tape down the middle of the room to split it due to fighting. But I also remember staying up late and talking and giggling and having "bed" sleepovers. Also I was scared of the dark until about 11 years old and it really helped to have someone else in my room with me.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I'll just add another voice to Heather and Megan's thoughts. Sharing a room with a baby DOES work. My kids (until 1 week ago hallelujah for a bigger place) ALL 3 OF THEM shared a room. The older two just simply learned that they needed to be quite. Some nights they were asleep when I brought the baby in, and on the nights they weren't asleep they learned pretty darn quick to be quiet. If one of them started acting up while the baby was in there, we took that child out and had him/her stay in the pack 'n play in our room (which was used for naps during the day) until they could be quite. The kids learned fast that if they wanted to stay in their own bed they needed to HUSH.

This wasn't ideal... having a baby in with an older sibling is NOT my favorite thing. I now have my baby in her own room and it is heaven, bu it can be done.

I'll tell you too - it's true, the baby doesn't usually wake up an older sibling. If you are doing sleep training, then you might have a child wake up. When my two oldest shared my daughter only woke up a handful of times from my son crying - and that was only after the crying had gone on for more than 1/2 an hour for sleep training. With 3 in the room, the older two didn't wake up when the baby did. They slept just fine 95% of the time. :)

Yeah, there have been rough nights and times when I've really felt like the kids woke the baby up, but it really is so much nicer to have your own room. Bite the bullet and do it!!

Tannie Datwyler said...

Oh yeah, and as for older siblings sharing rooms.... I had my own room from the time I was 9 and on. I liked it a lot. The privacy was nice and since I turned into a neat freak at the age of 10 it was great for me to have my own space (since my other siblings were far removed from neatness). But before I was 9 I did share a room and I didn't mind at all. I remember feeling like I was responsible for the baby (I shared with my brother for a couple of years - he is 5 years younger than me). I also felt a little bad that I didn't get to share with my older sister. Most the time I liked my own room, but sometimes I thought it might be fun to be with her.

I think either can work for older kids. Like you said, let them help decide IF both are options. If not, they will certainly make the best of it.

Alyssa Harper said...

I guess I just need to go and do it. *sigh* It seems almost unbelievable that the kids won't wake each other up, but everyone's comments makes me want to believe it. Thanks, ladies!