Child rearing throws up all sorts of questions for us parents, a detailed handbook would have been seriously useful… unfortunately children don’t come with one attached! So we end up having to grapple with the what, why, where and how on a daily basis and are often left with questions that we simply don’t have answers for.
As a senior Kids Bed buyer for I have many conversations with parents regarding their children’s sleeping arrangements, particularly around the topic of kids beds and room sharing. Anyone who has shared a bedroom with a sibling or survived the slightly more colourful experience of a roommate at university knows that occupying the same space with another person naturally comes with many challenges.
For children, sharing a room with a sibling can be a hugely enjoyable experience; shared secrets, giggles, mid-night feasts (only at the weekend of course!), then again, for siblings who may not get along so well, tensions can run high and fuses can be short in a shared space. For kids where there is a larger age gap, bedtime can be disrupted, leading to tiredness and the inevitable undesirable side effects that come with that! Then of course as they age, and privacy becomes all the more important children may resent having to share their bolt hole with a younger sibling.
One question that frequently arises is at what age siblings should stop sharing a bedroom. If truth be told, there is no hard and fast answer – which is not ideal for those of us who like living in a world of black and white!
What the experts say:
Currently in the UK there is no law in place defining the age that siblings should stop sharing a bedroom, even if they are the opposite sex. For those who are homeowners or renting privately, the present guidelines are that once a child reaches the age of 10 years ideally, they should not room share with a sibling of the opposite sex. The regulations are stricter if you are in housing association accommodation, in these circumstances the government guidelines for bedroom sharing as detailed on the independent advice website, ‘entitled to’, are as follows:
- Two children aged 0-9 can share a bedroom whatever their sex
- Two children aged 0-15 can share a bedroom if they are the same sex
- Children aged 16-19 are counted as needing their own bedroom
The above guidelines suggest that the age opposite sex siblings should no longer share a room is 10 years; further supporting information about a child’s legal rights regarding bedroom sharing is offered by the NSPCC.
However, according to child and family therapist Emily Kircher-Morris developmental changes, not age, provide a better indicator that it may be time to look at separating siblings,
“There isn’t a specific age cut-off that requires that opposite-sex children separate rooms,” she says.
“Parents should monitor where their children are, developmentally, and make decisions from there. But by the time children reach puberty, it will be much more difficult for them to feel comfortable sharing a room, and the need for privacy and space should be respected as much as possible.”
As helpful as the above guidelines are, each family situation is different and for whatever reason your household may not be able to accommodate separate rooms for siblings, including opposite sex siblings. In such situations the advice of child psychologist Susan Bartell is useful;
“Ideally, children would move out of shared rooms with a sibling of the opposite sex by age six, but not every family has that option. In that case, set up some boundaries, have them change in the bathroom, or be flexible with your own room as another place to change”.
If your children must share their bedroom space, try to create other areas in the house where they can have their own personal space and privacy. Puberty can be a challenging time for both children and parents, but if you are able to define some clear boundaries between siblings who room share during these turbulent years, then it may just be a happier experience for everyone.
Here are a few tips on how you could encourage boundaries and create privacy for siblings who share a bedroom:
- Stay organised & tidy – we all know that most children aren’t naturally tidy, most kid’s bedroom’s are littered with a whole variety of objects, some more easy to identify than others! Articles of clothing (your guess is as good as mine as to whether they are clean, dirty or somewhere in-between), soggy towels abandoned at ease and apple cores that have gone a rather dodgy shade of brown. However, if you can encourage them to keep their bedroom tidy, they may just get along a little better! Perhaps they could dedicate a time each week to have a clean-up, they could even come up with a schedule to share the jobs.
- Sometimes less is more – we’re all guilty of accumulating way more stuff than we need! When you’re sharing a bedroom it’s best to try not to fill it to the gunnels with stuff, consider space saving ideas such as having a laptop rather than a desktop computer and perhaps try to share certain items such as books.
- Consider the furniture – we’ll be taking a closer look at this in another article, but there’s some brilliant kid’s bedroom furniture that will make room sharing more appealing. You could consider using screens to create separate areas and increase privacy and of course provide plenty of useful storage, jump over to Cuckooland for inspiration for versatile kids storage solutions
- Noise cancelling headphones – essential… and not just for the kids! Help to prevent endless arguments over music battles by treating the kids to some noise cancelling headphones, this way they can listen to their favourite music or watch the latest episode on Netflix without bothering each other – and you can crank up your 80’s ballads without being labelled as a prehistoric dinosaur!
Hopefully with a few respectful boundaries in place you and your children will be well on your way to creating an enjoyable shared space that your developing children will feel comfortable in.
Keep an eye out for next week’s post that will be jam packed full of inspiring bedroom ideas for kids sharing a room, including some clever tips for creating their own private space in a shared bedroom.