We’ve since been blessed with three kids. There is no longer “all the space.”
In order to create the illusion of more room and a very necessary home office when the pandemic hit, we moved all three kids – or at least, their beds – into one (not large) bedroom. We have two boys, aged nine and four, and a girl in the middle, aged six. The boys currently share the bunk beds and their sister is an arm’s length across the room, in her own twin bed.
The professionals can tell you the studied benefits and drawbacks of your kids sharing a room. I’m not sure we follow all of their advice nor would they see ours as a success story, but I can tell you what works and what doesn’t work for us.
The Benefits of Kids Sharing a Room
- Bedtime. We have one bedtime. There’s only one story being read or one story podcast being listened to, and only one parent doing the heavy lifting (while the other runs far, far away).
- Company. Nobody gets lonely overnight. Even when it’s dark, there are always two other siblings softly snoring nearby (or wetting the bed or demanding a fifth snack or…).
- Bonding. This shared space has encouraged some truly inspired sibling activities: the “pet game,” which basically just means they close their door to adults so their stuffed animals can come to life and play with them; a secret clubhouse in the closet, complete with written club rules and procedures; and endless sibling-produced videos filling up all of my phone’s storage.
- Chores. The kids keep each other honest when they’re cleaning their room. They’re very quick to define who owns which mess (“not me!”) and who isn’t pulling their own weight (“everyone else!”).
- Guest Room. We now have a guest room/office combo for guests, as long as they don’t mind sharing one bathroom with five other people. Or the mess. Or the screaming.
The Drawbacks of Sharing a Room
- Bedtime. We have one bedtime. The first and fourth graders are usually exhausted after a full day of school and activities and they don’t need much coercion to fall asleep. But the napping preschooler does his best work at bedtime and never goes to sleep before antagonizing both of his siblings extensively. Also, the kids work alarmingly well together when they want to delay bedtime. Their combined efforts are powerful.
- Privacy. “Alone time” doesn’t exist for any of the kids. They have no space that’s strictly theirs where they can close the door when they want to do something private or without the preschooler’s interference.
- Illness. When one kid is sick and not the others, it’s tricky to rearrange. We can either take our chances and keep them all in the same germ-infested atmosphere or invade other spaces, i.e. Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom.
- Nakedness. Nudity abounds. See above note about professional advice.
- Storage. There isn’t any. If I were more creative (or spent more time on instagram), I’d find a place for everything and keep everything in its place. We have two of the kids’ dressers in the home office/guest room across the hall and the closet’s contents are usually dumped so it can be used for the clubhouse mentioned above. So. much. stuff.
As the kids get older, I’m not sure how long our current arrangement will hold. We’ve experimented with other arrangements (at one point, the six-year-old had claimed a corner of the living room as her new bedroom), but the kids always end up back together. So they must not mind it too much.
What is parenthood if not a constant reconfiguring of physical and emotional space? Bedroom maneuvering is just another part of the job.