In our Arizona house, we had a house with a million bedrooms and so none of our four girls shared a room.
I won’t lie. . . it was DREAMY.
Then we moved to Utah and lived with my in-laws for a few months while we searched for a house and suddenly three of our girls were sharing a room with Tally sleeping in a pack-and-play in another room.
When we bought a house a few months later, it didn’t have enough bedrooms for everyone to have their own room (our new house is the same), so we’ve had kids room sharing for the past nearly four years now.
I’d been so afraid of room sharing when Ani was born that she slept in the second bathroom for the first six months of her life until we moved from an apartment to a house with a room for each girls, but when we moved to London for a semester, the girls (who were 4 and nearly 2 at the time) shared a room for months and it went much more smoothly than I’d expected.
Here are some of my best tips for room sharing, along with advice about sharing a room sent in by readers when I asked on Instagram – I hope it’ll make siblings sharing a room a little smoother at your home!
11 Tips for Room Sharing Between Siblings
- Try staggered bedtimes. This was BY FAR the most popular suggestion when I asked for advice about room sharing. It applies more when you have a baby or toddler as one of the siblings involved in room sharing, but it often works well to put one of them down first – maybe the baby, maybe the older child – and then wait to put the second one to bed until the first one is asleep.
- Expect a transition time. Like most things, room sharing might not be easy the first few nights (or even weeks!). Expect it to be a little messy and require some trial and error and don’t give up just because the first little bit goes less than picture perfect.
- Sound machines forever. I LOVE a sound machine and all of my children have slept with one from birth (this is the one we have). It acts as a terrific trigger to your brain that it’s time to sleep and helps muffle the sounds of another human moving around in bed or traffic outside or any other sounds that can keep you awake. Tally hates to go to bed now with a sound machine on, but I always turn the sound machine on her Yoto player in the morning when I get up to work out so that the sounds of the other girls getting ready for school won’t wake her up (works like a charm!).
- Use a reading light. Often, whether it’s because of age or disposition, siblings who share a room aren’t ready to go to sleep at exactly the same time and one may way to stay up and read for a bit while the other goes to sleep. Book lights to the rescue! My girls who share a room each have one of these neck book lights and they also have a clip-on version that can attach to their book ledge next to their bed. A kindle ereader is also a great option because it has a built-in light.
- Try a bunk bed. When we first moved into our last house, our girls who shared a room were both in a queen bed. That was a DISASTER and we ordered ASAP so that they’d each have their own bed, plus they couldn’t see each other and had a little more privacy and space in a smaller room. (Of course, other families hav said they don’t like a bunk bed because it can move the bed when one child rolls over or moves about).
- Know your children – some kids will share and sleep better together than others. Right now our two middle girls share a room because they manage it the most easily and their schedule is the most similar. We’ve had other room sharing combinations before that didn’t work as well because of personalities and schedules. And it’s always changing!
- Rotate who has their own room and who shares. When I was growing up, we rotated who had their own room – I shared with each of my sisters during different years of my life and we also all three shared a room for a while. It’s nice to make sure it’s not always the same children who have to share a room!
- Give each child their own personal space in a shared room. Each of our girls have a book ledge mounted on the wall next to their bunk and it gives them a spot to keep their books, a book light, a water bottle and their Yoto Mini. It’s so nice for them to feel like they have a spot they completely control and can access easily.
- Limit toys and books in the room so no one is tempted to stay awake. Our girls are old enough that this isn’t as much of an issue anymore, but when we lived in London, we kept no toys in their bedroom and only a small stack of books that Ella could read if she woke up before it was time to come out of their room for the day.
- Use an “Okay to Wake” clock. This is really helpful not just for making sure your child doesn’t come out of their room too early in the morning (nobody wants to be parenting at 5 a.m!), but also so they know when they can wake up a sibling. The Yoto Player has an Okay to Wake function, which is really handy.
- What works for one family won’t work for another. As always, every family and child is unique. What one family swears by might not work for your family and what works like a charm at your house might be a massive flop for another family. Some parents sent me messages saying “I gave up on room sharing after a week – it was a disaster” while others said “my kids love sharing a room so much, I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to separate them!” Experiment with what works at your house and don’t worry about the advice that will be a spectacular failure with your own situation.
Do you have children sharing a room? I’d love to hear your best tips and what has worked at your house!