If you are a parent to more than one child, you may be familiar with the difficulty of having two children share one room. Whether you implemented room sharing in an effort to downsize, in order to encourage a stronger bond between siblings, or because you have a new child on the way, it does not have to be a struggle. There are many ways to help ease the transition from one child per room to two.
Children who must share a room because of a new baby on the way may feel like their parents are putting them to the side to make room for the new child. A clever way to rectify this is by buying them a few fresh things for their “new” room. Get them the best bed sheets with their favorite color or character on them, throw in a few cool posters, and maybe even a few new pillows or stuffed animals. This will hopefully make your child feel like they are still receiving the same amount of attention.
Make sure that while shopping for these latest items, you explain to them that they are still as important as ever to you, and that they are being a “great big help” to the family. Try to emphasize how you want them to be a good role model for their new baby brother or sister.
One major downfall of having to share a room with a sibling is the lack of privacy. For the most part, younger children prefer a companion in their room, but this is not always true of older children. At the very least, be sure that each child has their own dresser, bed, and nightstand. If there is a closet in the room, make sure that it is shared evenly. If the room is large, you may want to hang a curtain or sheet down the middle, making it into two smaller rooms or sections in the closet. If you do this with two curtains, the children can always separate the curtains when they want to play together in the center of the room.
One of the biggest issues with shared rooms is bedtime. Children may never want to go to bed to begin with, so when there are two children in the room, giggling, chatting, and other sleeping distractions can be a real issue for you as a parent. To rectify this, allow the older of the two children to go to bed half an hour later.
The older child will appreciate that you see them as “older” than their younger sibling, and will also appreciate the time that you spend with them without the younger sibling. Older siblings tend to feel neglected by their parents when a younger sibling is present, if it is true, so this extra half an hour of time together will be extremely beneficial in many ways.
If you are hoping that a shared room will help your children bond, you are going to want to make sure that they have plenty of shared space in the middle of the room for playing together. Storing the stuff of two kids can take up a lot of space, so use vertical space as much as possible. Consider getting bunk beds, trundle beds, and plenty of shelving. Try to keep all storage secured against the walls to maximize play area.
Moving one child in with the other is a fantastic opportunity to get rid of old toys and stuffed animals that they no longer play with. Take a few hours with the children who are about to share a room and get out the toys that you think they have outgrown. Explain to them how they are getting older, and they suddenly have a lot of things. If there is a younger child, ask the older children if they wanted to offer any of their old toys to their younger sibling. Make sure to make it sound fun.
Try saying something like “Wouldn’t you love to teach your younger brother how to play with this toy?” Anything that you do not think is suitable for the younger child, put it into a box for charity, after making sure it is okay with the child that it belongs to. Make sure to explain that you have not seen them play with that toy recently, and that you think maybe there is another kid out there whose parents cannot afford to buy them toys who might enjoy it more.