Children's bedrooms: to share or not to share?
Posted on December 03 2017
The pursuit of simplicity challenges our deeply engrained 'more is more' mentality, especially when applied to our homes. The societal paradigm of bigger-is-better is pervasive in our western society, something we’ve prescribed to since youth. Despite this, we are witnessing a movement of ordinary people, designers and architects supporting small-footprint living.
Who sleeps where is often dictated by the availability of space and resources and, with a shift towards small-footprint living, our children are often the first to bear the brunt of a downsize. Through research, conversations with friends, and personal experience we know ‘to share or not to share?’ is no simple question. With arguments both for and against, it is essential that any shared-living circumstance considers a child’s personality and developmental needs.
My big boys have shared their room for about 4 years now. If we had the additional space, they wouldn’t but I do love their special relationship that they have! - @nestdesignstudio
Sharing is behaviorally beneficial, teaching children negotiation, compromise and responsibility. These peer relations may facilitate social, moral and intellectual development. Having a sibling close also eases bedtime anxiety, with an enhanced sense of security and is bond building. Whether by choice or an outcome of limited space, sharing fundamentally adheres to the small-footprint philosophy.
It’s important to teach kids to share spaces at a young age. As they grow into adults they will most likely have roommates and then possibly a spouse and their own family. Bunk beds are great because they allow so much more room in the rest of the space. These bunks are beautiful. ✨- @mccallamegan
Siblings sharing a bedroom however, may prove problematic when children are at differing ages and developmental stages each with individual sleep requirements. Just as sharing can establish stronger sibling relationships, there’s no need to forge these bonds. Sometimes siblings just don’t get along. There’s always going to be the messy younger brother or bossy older sister. Privacy will also become a matter of contention as your child grows older and a younger sibling becomes invasive.
Here are 5 tried and tested tips for shared children's bedrooms:
1) Creating personal nooks
Melbourne psychologist and co-founder of Empowering Parents Giuliett Moran suggests, ‘personal space and boundaries are really important for children, whether they share a room or not. Children need a place that is their own, where they can feel calm, can work through their thoughts and feelings and can take some time-out from the outside world’.
Sharing a bedroom can be problematic if children don’t have a space to call their own. Having a personal nook will cultivate a sense of independence. We suggest that each child has their own storage area or designated part of the bookshelf to enable ownership of their items. In our experience, each child having their own nightlight also helps to alleviate any issues caused by a late-night-reader!
We suggest taking a look at our designer kids furniture and storage solutions here.
2) Considered use of space
In small rooms, it is important to integrate practical and versatile pieces to best utilise the space. We suggest the use of bunk beds and loft beds as they are space saving and create additional floor space.
The Dream Cloud Loft Bed, for example, has a void beneath that can be used as reading nook, study zone, play area or space for a second bed. The Trundle Drawer can be used with our Castello Bunk Bed for additional storage or a spare bed for sleepovers. Multifunctional furniture is essential in optimising a small space and future-proofing for changes in sleeping situations. Discover our loft beds, king single bunk beds, and our other designer kids furniture here.
Bunks are great. Without them we would have no space! - @heatherjean68
3) Setting ground rules
According to Laeta Crawford of the Herald Sun, ‘we have set up some ground rules, which are helping to smooth out the friction. If one child wants to go to their room for some privacy, the others aren’t allowed to annoy him for the sake of it.
If one is quietly playing a game by himself in their room, it’s up to him (within reason) if he allows the others to join in.’
Setting boundaries is integral to maintaining harmony in a shared space. In our house, we alternated top bunk and bottom bunks every six months to thwart any arguments. It’s important to instil a respect for personal space. Does one child prefer an orderly room? Work with the other to respect this.
4) Frequent communication
Martin Ford, senior associate dean in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University says ‘parents would be wise to observe their children, talk with their children, and do some informal experimentation to try to address what kind of living circumstances would best match their child's personality and developmental needs’.
Transitioning to a shared bedroom space is just the start. It’s important to monitor your children to see how they’ve adapted to the change. Incompatibility, for example, may be evident. For example, if one child wakes up earlier and disturbs the other then sleeping patterns may be disturbed affecting other aspects of life. Identify these issues early through frequent check-ins to resolve them sooner rather than later.
5) A personal touch
In an ideal world, our home would be awash with whites, wood and neutrals but it’s important to allow your child to express a sense of identity and ownership in their shared space. Work with each child to choose a bedspread, artwork or other elements to inject personality into their space. Take a look at our range of designer kid's furniture here to get some ideas!
Now you know our thoughts on sharing, why not hear it from the experts…
We'd love to know your thoughts! Share your experiences with us in the comments below.