My family lives in a city – space is tight, so most every kid we know shares a room. In a perfect world we’d have enough space for each of our children to have their own bedroom, but that’s just not the reality. There are many tricky factors to get around (age difference, gender, attitudes) but when there's no other choice but to share space together, most kids adjust surprisingly well. Point by point, here are some common concerns about room sharing, and how my family and friends have overcome them.
Decorating according to your child’s style. Paint the walls in neutral colors, like sage or butter. Choose complimentary bedding that expresses each kid’s personality. For example, we chose a light color for the walls, denim for my son’s comforter and shades of blue flowers for my daughter’s bedding. Assign a wall to each kid and add art that's just for them. We personalized whenever and wherever we could, so our kids’ individuality is integrated into the decor.
Sharing with baby. It's really daunting to move a baby in with a toddler. When I did it, my pediatrician swore up and down that my toddler would learn to sleep through the baby's wakings at night and, sure enough, he did. But take steps whenever you can to preserve all the hard-earned sleep training you've done with your toddler so far. We placed their beds against opposite walls to give him the best chance for a good night’s sleep. And although they still had their separate places with their own things, this also allowed us to create an open common space in the middle of the room where they were able to play together.
Differing bedtimes. Staggering bedtimes (and naptimes!) is easy at first -- baby can't find the words to complain about being the first to go down. But it can get a lot harder when your younger child decides she wants to do everything her big brother does. One way we worked this out was letting our older kid read in bed until the younger one fell asleep. This way they would physically go to bed at the same time to please our youngest, and our oldest got some independent big kid time, too.
Viv Schaffel is a freelance journalist and essayist who writes for a vast array of publications, including CBS Watch!, The New York Times, Working Mother and The New York Post. She writes/performs sketch comedy and is an upstanding member of US Weekly’s Fashion Police, poking fun at red carpet risks.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.