I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my priorities in life and whether my surroundings reflect those priorities. Maybe you can relate. You know what’s most important and what really matters, but sometimes the noise, the background, the clutter can start to creep in. Before you know it, you can look up and realize that, even though you have surrounded yourself by what you love, it can be hard to see because everything else is getting in the way.
I want to find a way to get my physical spaces, especially the rooms in my house, to reflect what my family values and cares most about. What better place to make this a reality than my kids’ rooms?
Evaluating the Kids’ Space
I have a three-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl, and they each had their own rooms, but they always ended up together in one room whether it was to sleep, to play, or just to hang out. Aaliyah would even crawl into the crib to comfort her little brother when he was younger. The two have a deep and inseparable bond. They were asking me to share a room, and at the same time I was thinking about how best to use the space in my house.
Since my husband is in the NFL, we find ourselves moving all of the time. It’s hard to make a permanent space in what is likely a temporary home. If my kids shared a room, that would free up some space to create a multi-purpose room that could be used to host guests, provide a quiet office space, and put in a playroom.
I know that this time when they are both young and want to do so much together is a temporary one in the lives. As they age, they’ll find other interests and make other friendships, but for the moment, they have this special time to create a lifetime bond. I remember sharing a room with my brother when I was younger. We had so many adventures, and the memories we made then help connect us even to this day.
While I was considering all of this, I came across this article from the Chicago Tribune. In it, author Danielle Braff notes that more and more parents are opting for siblings to share a room—even when they have enough space to separate them. She points out that nearly two-thirds of homes in America with siblings under the age of 18 have them sharing a room, and this is despite the fact that American home sizes are getting bigger.
One parent interviewed for the article put it nicely: “I’ve always admired big families where the kids seem to develop a tribe mentality from sharing everything—toys, space, experience, parents.”
Since I have both a boy and a girl, I’m attuned to the conversation about mixed-gender siblings sharing a space. As Braff noted in the article, though, it usually does not become an issue until the children get older, and once privacy does become an issue, children will start requesting their own space. On top of that, they have other spaces in the house, so they can get privacy when they need it—and they don’t mind asking!
Cons of a Shared Space
While I really love the idea of a shared sibling space, there are a few challenges that come with this arrangement.
One of those challenges is sleep. Getting two kids settled simultaneously is harder than focusing on one at a time, and when they’re energized, they can feed off of each other instead of getting snuggled into bed.
Another sleep issue is that the kids have to adjust to each other’s sleep habits. If one wakes earlier than the other, they have to learn not to disturb their sleeping sibling. These adjustments usually just take a little time.
We also found that having a solidly organized bedtime routine and starting about 30 minutes earlier than actual bedtime let us have a great wind-down period that lets everyone get the rest they need.
We also really scaled down the stuff in the room so that it would be organized and inviting, and that helps with creating a great bedtime routine. (See more about our organization and decorations in Part 2 of this post!)
Pros of a Shared Space
The pros definitely outweigh the cons. We get a lot more time to bond and talk, especially during that bedtime routine. Instead of bouncing back and forth between rooms or trying to soothe one kid to sleep while the other is ignored, we can all wind down together.
The kids also have to learn how to negotiate with one another more fully, a skill that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. They have to compromise, communicate with one another, and play together while respecting each other’s space and noise levels. My early riser has learned to stay quiet in the morning as a way to be respectful and kind.
Once I had thought it all through, I was convinced that a shared space would really benefit my kids.
The next steps were making it happen, and since I was already redoing the space, I decided that now was the time to really go through everything and sort it, keeping only what my kids really use and love. Once the space was decluttered, we organized and decorated in a way that would meet both of their interests and really make the space a place for both of them to feel comfortable and joyful.
We made sure to take time to organize their closets in a way that was functional for the kids, and easy to keep up with their wardrobes — making tasks like getting ready for school in the mornings or bed at night much easier of a process. Check out this video of myself and my favorite clutter coach, Eva, of Operation Organization. She dishes out major tips on how to organize a kids closet and more importantly ways to keep in clean and organized over time! I truly loved the process of putting this room together. The releasing process was liberating, and my heart was happy knowing that I am proactively taking steps to help erase my generational curse of being borderline hoarders! Teaching my kids the art of decluttering, and the freedom of having less, and cherishing more of what we love, is a gift that I’m so happy to share.
I can’t wait to show you what we did with the rest of the room! Stay tuned for Part 2 to get all of the details of the makeover!
Ps. Leave a comment if you want to share any declutter or organizational tips below!