Children can benefit from sharing a room, here's how to make it a great experience all round
Providing that the age difference is not too great, most siblings benefit from sharing a room. Of course, if you have no option you just have to make it work. When I was pregnant with our second child, I panicked about how we'd fit another person into a house that was already cramped. And, for the first year of her life the baby slept in our room.
But as she neared her first birthday, I realised that her sister never woke when she cried and that it would be healthier for all of us for the kids to share. So we swapped the wardrobe in the second bedroom for the cot. Most people dream of a walk-in wardrobe, we got to dream in one!
It worked from the start. They slept through each others' cries and they settled for the night better. I wish I'd tried it earlier.
For successful co-sharing, however, you need to do two things: thoughtfully plan the bedroom’s design and prepare the children for the move.
Planning the room
Give each child their own territory in the room, e.g. a shelf or table, so that they've their own space upon which to stamp their personality.
Get each child involved in the room’s décor. Give them each a wall to decorate with their own stickers, pin-boards and posters. The Jungle Animal wall decals, shown above, are from Amazon. Allow them to choose different bed-linen, rugs and cushions, but for aesthetic reasons ensure that they complement each other.
To maximise floor playing space, opt for bunkbeds if one child is old enough. It's not recommended for children under six to sleep on the top bunk. A truckle bed, which pulls out from underneath a single bed, is a good option for smaller children.
Look to the future. Buy bunks that divide into singles, so if your kids are too young for bunks now you've the option later or if you move the children into separate rooms later, you can switch the bunk to singles.
Maximise storage space. If you have room, look at mid-sleeper or cabin beds, which have furniture such as a desk, wardrobe and shelving underneath. The Low Sleeper Kids Cabin Bed shown above is from Amazon. Buy under-bed storage drawers and if you've a baby sharing with an older child, use wall-hung storage that only the older child can reach for keeping their treasured toys away from tiny fingers.
Preparing the children
For a successful move, emphasis the positives of sharing a room. Talk about how fun it will be and how they can play together more. Brief the child who is already resident in the room on how to give a special welcome to his or her sibling.
Set rules to teach the children to respect each others' things and their right to privacy. ‘Ask before taking’ and ‘knock before entering’, for example.
Read our bunk bed buying guide here