We live in quite a small duplex (thanks crazy Sydney house prices!) We have three TEENY bedrooms and one combined living/dining/kitchen area.
With two boys under four, it was starting to get overrun by lego, cars and various unidentifiable home-made play objects spread throughout our living area. Upsizing isn’t an option so we decided that the best idea might be to move the boys into a shared room and convert the other bedroom to a play area.
The boys bedrooms are very small. Both are roughly 2.9m x 3m, although placement of the doors and wardrobes makes them appear quite different to each other. Given the size of the rooms, they aren’t really ideal for combining sleeping and playing areas, but I thought that if we combined both boys into one room we could use the other as a (small) play area. Hopefully this will alleviate some of the pressure on our living area!
We made the move this week and combined them in the one shared bedroom.
I decided to move Mr 4 into Mr 1’s room due to the layout and lighting being better in Mr 4’s room for a play area. So far all has gone well. My oldest generally wakes before my youngest (who still enjoys a bit of a midnight snuggle most nights!) and has been quietly sneaking out of the room to come to me. He previously used to scream out for me to get him up, even though he is perfectly capable of getting out of his own bed! This was my main fear as I didn’t want Mr 1 woken before he was ready.
So far so good!
My tips for combining siblings in a shared room
1. Wait until the youngest is sleeping fairly consistently/well
If you have the option, it is easiest to wait until the baby is sleeping fairly well before combining them with older siblings.
Our youngest is 20 months and has recently started sleeping through most nights so we felt this was a good time to move them in together.
2. Put them to bed separately
Even if your kids go to bed around the same time, you may need to put them to bed separately, at least initially.
You could put one to bed in your room and then move them or you could slightly change their bedtimes. In our house the baby goes happily to sleep on his own but my preschooler likes to have me lie with him while he drifts off. We put him to bed in our bed and then move him once he (and Mr 1) are asleep.
3. Remember nap time!
Don’t forget to keep anything you may need during nap time OUT of the room. You don’t want to have to sneak in on a sleeping toddler to grab the nappies.
If you have two kids who nap during the day but for different lengths of time, consider relocating one child to a different room. Generally younger babies sleep much longer than toddlers during the day so you don’t want the older one waking the younger. You could set up a porta cot or let them nap in your bed during the day.
4. Lay the ground rules at the start
Consider both safety and practicality. Go through the rules with your kids and keep them consistent. In our house the rules are:
- Mr 4 is not to get in Mr 1’s cot (he’s too big)
- No jumping on the bed
- DO NOT wake the baby up when you get up!!
- Sneak out quietly in the morning
5. Consider the layout
Ideally place the child who’s likely to get up first closest to the door so they can quietly get out in the morning.
Position the beds and cots so they will be least distracted by each other. Heads at opposite ends, preferably not in easy eyeshot, although this is easier said than done in a small room.
You can check out my Pinterest for shared room ideas (don’t forget to follow me!)
6. Go for streamlined and simple furniture
Try to choose furniture that is simple and doesn’t have too many bulky bits. Some beds can be 15-30cm or more wider than others. All that space adds up!
Choose items that will easily sit up against walls or other furniture so you make the most of your available space.
7. Choose furniture with multiple purposes
Beds with built in storage are a great way to gain extra storage for no “space cost”.
Some bunks can be used to create a small play area underneath. You can also combine a higher bunk with a cot or toddler bed underneath.
6. Be realistic and expect some hiccups
There are bound to be some unexpected hiccups in any change for kids. Be realistic about your expectations. It will take time for everyone to adjust and it may mean setting some new routines or adjusting existing ones.
Do your kids share a room? I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences in the comments below!