For a long time, we were a three-bedroom family and the only ones lucky enough to experience a shared bedroom, were me and my husband.
My husband and I in one room and one boy in each of the others. This was perfect for us, while we had a baby in the house. With the boys separated, my youngest could take two naps a day without banishing his older brother from his own bedroom and my husband and I were able to implement a “divide and conquer-ish” method during bedtime. It also worked well because, with a 3-year-old and an infant in the house, prospective “guests” weren’t exactly banging down the door to stay with us – so our need for a guest room was NIL.
But as our boys got older and their toys seemingly started mating and multiplying in secret (how the heck did we end up with so many Legos?), we decided that we might actually like to have some of our living space back and so no longer would our children get to occupy two-thirds of the rooms in our house.
So shortly after their 5th and 2nd birthdays, they became roommates and I braced myself for a nap time apocalypse.
However, against all odds, this transition not only went well – it freaking rocked my face off. Because apparently, one of the only things that keeps kids from coming out of their room one bajillion times before falling asleep, is having their only live-in playmate in the room with them.
Now, I know room-sharing can certainly go awry and I won’t try to pretend this one has been completely stress-free, however we did try a few things that I think are worth sharing with any prospective room-sharers out there…
One Transition at a Time
This is not the time to transition your little one from a crib to a toddler bed. I know someone once said something about a used bandaids and about doing a bunch of hard things all at once, but that person was gross. And a moron.
Too much change too quickly will throw your little ones completely out-of-whack (that is actually the medical term for it) and I can guarantee the whole room-sharing thing will go out the window. So what did we do? We jammed the crib into the other bedroom and called it a day. Then a few months later transitioned to a “big boy bed” and a few months after that the Holy Grail of kid bedrooms – The Bunk Bed.
At this point you might be thinking, “And with all this taking apart and putting back together of children’ beds, how is Kelly’s marriage going?” And I would respond with, “What a totally rude, yet perceptive question! It’s going fine. But I’m also not allowed to know where the screwdriver is anymore.”
5 More Minutes…
In our house, bedtime looks like: 2 stories, 2 songs, 1 prayer and a few hugs and kisses. However, once the lights are out and the door is left cracked exactly 7mm, our boys are allowed to chit chat to their hearts’ content. I tend to believe this special “kids only” time is super important for brotherly bonding and helping them feel like their room is a safe space. Not to mention, it has absolutely provided some of the best at-the-door listening I’ve ever experienced.
Take a Page from the Will Ferrell Playbook
Not that any of us want our full-grown adult sons terrorizing our houses thirty years from now, but it’s a pretty beautiful thing to see how Dale and Brennan begin to repair their relationship, after they create a shared space they can both enjoy.
For our kids, this looked like bunk beds (once they were old enough), a book shelf stocked with a variety of books at each of their reading levels, a cozy reading corner, a costume drawer and a toy drawer.
And of course, plenty of space for activities.
I’ll blog more about the specifics of their room setup soon, but I found that one of the most important things was making sure that there were a handful of favorite toys and actual space to play in their bedroom.
Our boys have been enjoying their space so much that my husband and I have even gotten so bold as to require the boys to play in their room until (gasp!) 6:15 every morning – and they do it! And full disclosure, 6:15 is actually 6:30, because there is nothing wrong with setting your children’s bedroom clock back, if they share a bedroom. You’re basically just increasing their available playtime every morning.
What a good mom you are!