Five Great Tips to Help Older Kids Share a Room
My 10-year-old imagines her perfect bedroom neat and orderly, with inspirational messages on the walls like “Don’t Let Anyone Dull Your Sparkle” and “Life is Tough But So Are You.”
My 13-year-old thrives in a more eclectic environment, with walls covered in posters, photos and colorful lights. She wraps feather boas around the headboard of her bed and crams every inch of space on her desk with little mementos and pretty much anything she’s ever collected or been given.
I’m a believer in letting kids express themselves (as long as it doesn’t involve completely trashing the house). The only problem? These two siblings share a room. We have a big family (five kids) and that means they will be living together in the same space for quite a few more years.
So how do they — or any siblings — coexist in a room with competing design preferences and different thresholds for mess? Here are five tips.
Five Ways to Help Older Kids Share a Bedroom
1. Commit to a nightly five-minute pick up. Certified Professional Organizer Ellen Delap of Houston recommends making organization part of your child’s everyday schedule. “Pick up each night insures that nothing gets completely out of control in the room. All kiddos can work for five minutes and get the organizing done.” This can make a big difference when two children are trying to live together peacefully. Many a sibling argument can be avoided by just a quick five minute nightly clean up — and it keeps the mess from building up.
“Plus,” Delap adds, “making it a nightly routine creates a lifelong routine of organizing.”
A lifelong routine of organizing! I like the sound of that. But maybe don’t mention that lifelong commitment quite yet to the kids. Five minutes sounds way better!
2. Declutter twice a year. You’ve heard about this magical decluttering thing. But now you’ve really got to do it. “A key component to success is some true purging,” says LA-based Professional Organizer Jasmin Reate of Jasmin Reate Consulting. “We remind our clients to do so with — not for — their kids, at least twice a year ,and even more often when they are younger. When you get rid of toys, books, and clothes that they’ve grown out of, you make space for what they use and love to shine.”
Delap adds that this kind of purging will help you make sure everything in the room has a place. “Having less in their space makes for less to put away or work around,” she says. “Set good boundaries for the stuff in their rooms. Clothes should fit in the closet, media should have a specific bin to fit in. When there is overflow, it’s hard to put items away.”
(Yup. That sure is true. I’m starting to wonder if Delap was watching me desperately try to shove all my girls pajamas into their drawer last night.)
3. Involve your kids in the design of the room. Tweens and teens have lots of opinions (have you noticed?). So that means they can help take ownership of the design of their room. When they work together, it can help turn the room into a shared, coherent common area — which seems a whole lot better than drawing a line down the middle and decorating one side goth and one side emojis!
Reate suggests letting kids work together to make decisions about things like the room’s color scheme. This helps foster teamwork and communication skills and can create a sense of pride in the space. She suggests keeping the decor and design in a monochromatic color palette with an accent color that both kids like.
I won’t make you google monochromatic. It means one color. Use accent colors for picture frames, pillows, that sort of thing.
4. Keep it simple and timeless. Your kids are different and they are likely not going to agree on the perfect dream room. I mean, they can’t even agree on what to have for dinner. So the idea is to keep the overall design of the room simple and then let them express themselves in other ways. “There are a myriad of ways to give each child personal expression opportunities: individual bulletin boards, night stands, and desks that are the same but blank canvases for them to make their own,” Reate says. “Our favorite is a great bulletin board.” The awesome thing about a bulletin board is that kids can constantly switch out photos, mementos, art work, whatever they love! And they have ownership of this. Siblings don’t get to weigh in.
And there are lots of ideas online for styles that won’t be considered “so over” in a few months. “When kids don’t agree on room decor,” says Delap, “check on the Internet for popular, long lasting designs that keep your design current for more years.” (That’s a nice way to say don’t even think of putting up Pokémon Go wallpaper — and yes, it exists.)
5. Make modifications for sleep schedules. Different sleep schedules can really cause issues when it comes to sharing a room. For example, my 10-year-old goes to bed before my 13-year-old and it was causing a lot of nightly issues in terms of sleep. The 10-year-old would fall asleep and then accidentally get woken up by her sister. And the 13-year-old wanted the opportunity to read before going to bed without always having to use some tiny book light.
I now put my 10-year-old to sleep in my bedroom. This allows her to go to bed without interruption, and it gives my 13-year-old a little space and solitude to read and relax before bed. Several hours later, I’ll move my 10-year-old back into her bed.
This idea might not work for everyone but it seriously solved our bedtime conflict. Sometimes you have to get creative and try different things so kids can have the space they need while still sharing a room.
No matter what you do, you’re certain to hear, “I want my own room” a plethora of times over the years. But keep in mind, your children are honing great skills in compromise and tolerance, which are attributes that will serve them well in the years to come. And sharing a room with a sibling now will certainly make sharing a room in college way easier!
Photo source: Depositphotos/bst2012
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