For thousands of kids around Britain, sharing a bedroom is just a way of life. There are numerous benefits to doing so, with the children involved often feeling reassured at night having a familiar presence near them.
Dr Pam Jarvis, reader in Childhood, Youth and Education at Leeds Trinity University, believes sharing a room can be a valuable experience for the children if the situation is managed well.
“There are possible benefits from shared bedroom space if sensitively handled. People are both collaborative and competitive, so the trick is to minimise the latter and encourage the former. If each child has his or her own designated space, this will reduce competition.
“Sharing family spaces with other children of different ages can lead to collaborative play where both older and younger children learn a lot from each other. For example, during play activities the older can develop leadership skills whilst encouraging the younger to stretch their skills and imagination.”
Jonathan Warren, director at online bed specialist, Time 4 Sleep, shares his top tips on how to make the most of a shared room.
A shared space can feel small if it’s messy. Maintaining tidiness standards can go a long way to ensuring the kids don’t feel cramped. With clutter removed or stored sensibly, there suddenly becomes more space for important things – like play time! Consider beds with inbuilt storage compartments to maximise space fully.
While the bedroom may be shared, it can be beneficial to allocate certain areas of it to each child. Whether it’s the wall space next to the bed, certain boxes or even a simple half and half room split, it can help children feel more independent. The kids can decorate these zones in their own individual way and use them to store their prized possessions. This ‘ownership’ can help teach values of respecting others’ space and taking responsibility for their own.
In any bedroom, a large chunk of the space is going to be taken up by the bed. Make that multiple beds and free space is definitely at a premium. For kids sharing, bunk beds make perfect sense as they bring a sense of fun and much needed space. Bunks remove the need for multiple pieces of furniture, freeing up an extra bed-sized space that can be invaluable if the room is small.
Often children who share a bedroom don’t share the same bed time. This occurs when the children are of different ages and it can sometimes be an issue if the older sibling wakes the other. Perhaps reduce the chance of a child waking their sibling by placing the older one’s bed nearer the door, or give them the bottom bunk, so there is less disturbance.
Sometimes it’s best to set ground rules. Make sure everyone is clear on these and stick to them. Kids will soon learn the system and it’ll make a parent’s life a lot easier. If children know not to mess with their sibling’s items, for example, they can establish boundaries, hopefully leading to less arguments and tale-telling. Some rules can also help to maximise space efficiency. To free up essential floor space, have children make their beds on a morning and tidy away toys before going to sleep.
Jonathan said: “Shared bedrooms can be great for children as they get the company of their sibling and the security of knowing they’re not on their own at night.
“These tips can help make sure that you and your children get the most out of a shared room.”