Whether it was decided in the name of sibling bonding or done out of sheer necessity, room-sharing can be a daunting and difficult transition. There are several factors to consider: age difference, gender, personality, and (of course) your own parental sanity.
Here are some tips on how to keep the peace in a shared room:
1. Establish the bedtime rules from the beginning. First of all, set a time for the kids to be in their beds with lights out. Also, explain your expectations for this time: "staying up talking and giggling" versus "silence."
Having a clear routine with rules will help foster harmony and, hopefully, prevent conflict due to differences in sleeping habits. This is especially important for younger children. That being said...
2. ... Make adjustments as your children get older, including staggered bedtimes. If there is a solid age gap, you eventually might have to adjust bedtimes or create different bedtimes for each child. For example, your six year old won't have to go to bed at the same time as a two year old. In this case, having an earlier set bedtime for the younger and a later set bedtime for the older could be appropriate. However, although the time changes, the other "routine rules" should still apply.
3. Create a personal space for each child and honor their individual needs for privacy. It is important for each child to have parts of the room that are theirs alone. Whether that be their bed, their books or their toys, having some personal space prevents feeling cramped and fosters a sense of ownership. In addition, everyone needs some sense of privacy--which can be especially hard when you share a room.
One way to create a private, personal space for your child is to use a Snoozeenie. It can be placed on either side of the bed and helps block light, stifle sound, and
Also, it can be a handy "monster shield" for those scary nights ;)
(Please note: Snoozeenie should NEVER be used in cribs or very young children. Be smart!)
4. Make a "sleep sanctuary" with the use of sound soothers, Snoozeenie, night lights, or whatever else is needed! Create an optimal sleep environment for your children. If they are both young and prone to night terrors, perhaps a night light in the hallway is appropriate. Purchase a sound soother or white noise machine if you live near a busy road. A stuffy room requires a fan. Assess the needs of the room and make whatever adjustments necessary!
5. Don't let one child dominate the space. Make it clear from the beginning that it is "____ AND ____'s room." Encourage the use of "ours" and "we." There is a chance that one kid will start to creep onto the other side of the room or imposing their own rules. It is vital to emphasize the importance of sharing and the fact that it is both their space.
6. Don't always expect smooth sailing! Siblings will fight, that is a fact... But don't let conflict discourage you! If you have established a respectful, sharing environment with a clear set of rules, your kids should be able to overcome whatever petty fights arise. That being said, have consequences when the rules are broken and stick to them.
Sharing a room can be a fantastic bonding experience for siblings. It teaches kids how to live with, share with, and grow with another person. A sense of camaraderie and closeness arises that is unique to those who grew up sharing a space.
What advice do you have for children who share a room?