In a perfect world, every kid would have their own space in your house. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Sometimes siblings have to share a room, and it’s harder on the parents than the kids. There is hope, however. Here are 10 ways to create a shared space with real personality:
1. Let the kids help. Rather than make all of the decisions yourself, let your children tell you what they want. Have a family meeting to get everyone’s ideas and then start paring them down to what can reasonably be done. Your children will be less likely to complain about sharing a room if they’ve been involved in making it truly their own.
2. Consider a loft. To create more space in your kids’ room, build up instead of across. Building a loft is one way to physically separate one child from another. If a loft isn’t practical, invest in a set of bunk beds for a similar effect.
3. Draw a line down the middle. Separate your children by splitting the room in half. Although there’s no need to draw an actual line, each half should be personalized to the child living in it. Make sure each side of the room is as nearly identical as possible when it comes to furnishings and size. Individuality will come from the children’s choice of decorations, and none will have the opportunity to say, “She has more than I do!” Hanging a large photo of each child over his or her personal space gives your children a sense of pride regarding having their own space. It’s also a really cute way to indicate which space belongs to which child.
4. Separate shared areas from personal ones. If you must have some common areas in your kids’ room, take care to create at least one personal space for each child. A desk area is easily personalized by painting or covering with contact paper or fabric. Consider placing the desks as far from each other as the room will allow.
5. Let the room grow with your children. Children are constantly changing and evolving. What is a favorite today might be detested tomorrow. Give your kids a choice of colors among a complementary palette and let each child choose her own covers and sheets according to her personal style. These items will periodically be changed anyway and are the easiest (and least expensive) way to update the bedroom’s look.
6. Highlight each child’s interests. If one of your children loves cars and the other loves trains, consider a general transportation theme instead of choosing one over the other. Alternately, give each child one wall in the room to display items of particular interest. Purchase a selection of inexpensive picture frames that each child can decorate and use to display her own photos or mementos.
7. Provide a safe place for treasures. Each of your children will have certain possessions that are of special significance to them. They may be fragile or irreplaceable. Provide them with a lockable chest or drawer where these possessions can be safely stored, out of temptation’s reach in case of argument. Be sure to keep a copy of the key or combination in case of loss.
8. Provide plenty of organizational help. Make sure there is plenty of closet space available for each child in the room. Provide decorative crates or boxes as storage. As anyone who has lived with a roommate will know, one of the fastest ways to start an argument is to place a neat freak and a slob in a room together. By making it easy for your children to keep their room tidy you can avoid this potential disaster.
9. Minimize Annoyances. Sometimes kids need very little reason to pick a fight with each other, but the practical parent will head off as many potential arguments as possible. Make sure your children each have headphones for any electronic devices they may use. If they must share a computer, set a schedule and stick to it!
10. Make use of fun screens. Folding screens can create privacy where none exists. Let your children decorate their screen according to their own personal tastes. The screens can be stored under a bed when not in use, and opened to create a personal space. You don’t have to be literal, using a screen. If you have the space, anything can be used to screen the children away from each other. If you have the space, you can even use a shelving system to separate each child’s sleeping area. It’s a great way to give them their own space within a space.
Follow some or all of these steps to help ease the burden of children sharing space, for them and you!