Four tips to make sibling room-sharing easier

Four tips to make sibling room-sharing easier

Last week I wrote about how chaotic it can get when siblings share rooms. And yet it has huge benefits. That aside, almost everyone who read that piece had warm memories despite the squabbles. Also, one might not have the luxury of two (or more) separate rooms for each of the children.

So here I am, back today, with some tips that worked for me.

For once, I am glad I had twins because it made this a little easier. I wasn’t dealing with differing age groups where sleep times may not coincide. That would be a major issue with children of different age groups. One could perhaps let the younger one turn three or four before shifting them to a separate room.

We co-slept with the twins till they were about six. The Husband, I and the children slept on three beds – a double bed plus a single joined together. By the time they were six we were all squeezed together in one terribly tangled bunch and I, for one, couldn’t get any sleep at all. The Husband, by the way, had no issues. He’d start snoring as soon as the lights were out.

But I’m digressing.

Here are four things that have helped us keep our sanity.

Start early

I found six years a good age to start though a few years earlier wouldn’t have hurt too. The children were old enough to not need us at night and yet young enough to be glad of each other’s presence across the room. During those first few months they were comforted by each others’ company. In fact, I’d often find them snuggled together in the same bed. The thought that they had each other close was reassuring for me too.

Have clearly demarcated personal and shared spaces

This is the single most important factor. I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t want to tear all your hair out, demarcate which areas are shared and which are each child’s personal space, very very clearly. For instance H and N have separate beds and separate cupboards for their clothes and school books. But they have a common bookshelf and a common soft board. After a big row they even demarcated walls – because N wanted to put up posters of people H absolutely couldn’t stand.

Have basic rules in place

Since they are sharing the room both of them have to adhere to some basic rules. We have lights off rule by 9pm since N is an early-to-bed person. H likes to read late into the night on weekends so then he moves to the living room. Mercifully they share a taste in music but we make sure they have earphones handy if one of them doesn’t want the ‘noise’.

Have separate study areas, preferably in separate rooms

This was a bit of tough decision to take. Ideally I would have liked them to study quietly in their own room. But that didn’t really happen. When one wanted to read aloud the other one would protest. So now H does his school work in my study and things are relatively better.

Much as I try to separate them, they have a tendency to stick together like opposing poles of a magnet. They have periods of extreme affection when they are inseparable and then, in a flash, they are arguing. That’s something I have to live with.

24 Replies to “Four tips to make sibling room-sharing easier”

  1. This brought back such lovely memories of my childhood. My sis and I shared the same room till I got married at 23. In hostel too, we were assigned the same room. And of course, we had to share everything. The earlier we did it, the more it helped, I agree with you completely. Plus in general I find that being kind towards one another is very useful in these situations. And it helps with the concept of needs vs wants.

    With twins, these tips are very helpful. Although once they are older and since they are fraternal, I am guessing they would want their own rooms? In the US and other countries in the west, did you know that you can’t rent a single-bed place if you have a child? Every person needs their own room. Sort of mandatory. That won’t work in India, of course, with cramped spaces and a growing population. But, food for thought 🙂

    1. I know Shailaja. I read it online but that’s just their philosophy. Personally I’m all for space but only to a limited extent. I think families need to keep close. It teaches one so many things – sharing and caring and getting attuned to each other’s moods, joys and sorrows. That’s important.

  2. Those are some fantastic tips!
    I know they work well because this was quite how my brother and I grew up, though we have a huge age difference.

  3. Oh yes, I need my space, baba! Although ,my bro and I shared a room, we studied at different hours and in different spaces. Gives not just some privacy, but also some much-needed silence in the house!

    1. My sister and I studied in relative peace. In fact I liked having her around but these two are something else. As for space – it’s only now that I crave it.

  4. “My own room” was a dream when I was little. In our joint family, all areas were common except the married folks’ bedrooms. Then later, I was lucky to have my own corner after we moved to a different city. Okay not going down memory lane now.. but your tips are great. I can imagine two people with totally different tastes. Still, there’s always a point of balance, no?

    1. I get you Vidya – it was the same for us. We were thrilled when we had a dedicated study table. These days, with nuclear families the children start looking for ‘privacy’ a bit too soon.

  5. This brought back memories! I remember how my brother and I used to fight all the time especially during exams. He wanted to read out loud and I was disturbed by that!
    Your tips are helpful 🙂

  6. Those are some good tips. Starting early is the best! My sister and I shared a room pretty much since she could sleep in a bed. We are five years apart so it took some getting used to. And as she started school, we had separate study areas.

  7. I moved each child to their own room when they were 4. Initially they shared a double bed but the squabbling got so intense that we had to get them two single beds about 3 years back. They still squabble. Though we have a third bedroom, they still prefer to share the room. They have separate cupboards for stuff. Being boys, they do share some similar taste in music and posters, thankfully. Overall it’s been working fine.

  8. I cant imagine what a tight fit that must have been Tulika- I am someone who likes a lot of space on the bed 😉
    I remember the fights I had with my sister over the room issues and yes posters was one big one!
    Loved reading this humour filled post about the sensibilities of siblings and sharing rooms!

  9. I so agree about starting early and having different study spaces. All good habits should start at an early age. I remember, my sisters and I had different style of studying/revising, I would revise silently and the younger would prefer to do it loudly. Also, if you are in a serious mood to study while the other one is whiling away the study time… 😀

  10. So I agree that it helps to start early and then to work out the ground rules. Luckily for me, both study quietly so separate tables in the same room seems to work( well as of now)

  11. This reminded me of my childhood. We used to irritate each other so much that mom had to keep us in separate rooms for studying. I was the calm on so didn’t require much attention… But my siblings
    I like how the two get along even with differences. Its very difficult and I can imagine you trying to find every possible solution to maintain peace at home.

  12. Tell me about it! I have always shared a room with my little sister. I hated it initially. But it was okay later on. As you mentioned we had separate study tables/area. 🙂

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