When it comes to being in a military family, siblings often share a bedroom. A move to a smaller house may mean the kids now need to double-up. Or a new baby at an existing home can push older siblings into one room. On television and in the movies sharing a bedroom either seems really awesome or really awful!
Here are some tips for how to share space, without drawing a line down the middle of the floor:
One of the biggest issues for older kids is how to get changed in their room if the other sibling is present. What’s the solution? Agree that all changing should happen in the bathroom or build a “changing area” into the room. This can as simple as a curtain that can close-off a corner of the room.
From the desk to toys to even space on the floor, respecting each others “stuff” or shared items can be hard for brothers and sisters. What’s the solution? Come up with a set of rules before the first night together. Decide how you will handle wanting to “borrow” or use stuff. What happens if someone doesn’t ask permission? And what will be the consequences for breaking the rules? Post the rules and be consistent in the enforcement.
One messy kid and one neat one. It may seem like a recipe for disaster when kids have to share a room. What’s the solution? Make a cleaning schedule. You can even put a checklist up on the wall. Either divide and conquer cleaning or focus on their own side of the room, depending on the set-up of the room and ages of the children. The important thing is to establish the rules so neither child is stressed out by either a messy room or being unfairly blamed for messiness.
Don’t make both kids go to bed at the same time especially if they are different ages! It will only end up in resentment by an older sibling and may leave them both tired from talking into the night. What should you do? Set-up a bedtime schedule where the younger child is put to bed first while the older one can read in another room or finish up homework before going to bed.
Everyone needs a place of their own, especially when sharing a bedroom. If possible, make some portion of a shared room “off-limits” to the other sibling. Here’s an idea: A child may ask that their bed be their own space and that a sibling needs to ask to sit on it. Or they may want their own dresser or drawer as a place to put special things.
Maybe one child is younger and sticking to rules is difficult. An older child can become very frustrated if their things are constantly being destroyed. Work together on a solution. Build shelves that a younger sibling can’t reach. Use a closet that can be secured with a high, sliding lock. Let your older child know you care about their concerns and are working to figure out a solution.
Believe it or not, some siblings absolutely adore sharing a room. In fact, when you move again they may ask to be together because having someone close makes transitions a little bit easier. So don’t be afraid to have your kids share a bedroom! With a little bit of planning, it may be a very positive experience for everyone.
About the Author: Chameleon Kids is the publisher of MILITARY KIDS’ LIFE magazine, the only print magazine for kids of service members. We encourage kids to find the bright side of their military life. Find us at www.chameleonkids.com/magazine