Growing up, I shared a bedroom with my younger sister. We lived in a small split-level house that had fewer bedrooms than people so there was really no other choice. Since we were only 17 months apart in age, our lives overlapped in a lot of ways – we had many of the same friends, were in the same sports, and shared clothes. So as a kid, sharing a room was just one more way in which my life seemed to be perpetually intertwined with my sister’s.
And not always in a good way.
As kids, we would tape lines down the middle of our room, including dresser drawers and closets. These boundaries usually lasted a couple days until one of us was out of clean socks and needed to gain passage to “the other side” of the room to borrow a pair of clean ones. My sister kept me up at night with her late night chatting, and as a teen, I quickly grew tired of her eavesdropping on my phone conversations.
I wanted space and independence, dammit. And back then, I was certain that when I had I kids, I would do whatever it took so they could each have their own room.
Well, fast-forward 20 years, and I am firmly and forever on #TeamShareARoom.
Even though my two kids could technically have their own room, for better or worse, they bunk together. And here’s why.
1. They’ll learn to share space.
Throughout their lives, they will likely have to share space with another human – whether it’s a college roommate, a spouse, or a co-worker. Sharing a bedroom as kids gives them practice at dealing with the bullshit and annoyances that come along with sharing space. The way I see it, I’m giving them good practice at dealing with that co-worker who leaves food in the office fridge too long or a spouse who can’t seem to get their socks in the laundry hamper. Ideally, it’s teaching them to not leave their food in the office fridge too long and to put their socks in the hamper.
You’re welcome, future co-workers and spouses.
2. They’ll have lasting memories.
Sure, those memories might be of me hollering up the stairs for them to GO THE EFF TO SLEEP!, but they’ll be memories nonetheless. Ideally, the memories will also include late-night conversations or helping each other with homework one day, but I’m a realist.
3. It fosters connection.
Given that my kids are 3.5 years apart, their lives don’t overlap as much as my sister’s and mine did. But I can already see the ways they are bonding because they share a room. There are many days when they bicker from morning to night, but then within a few minutes of “lights out,” I’ll hear them giggling about some inside joke or whispering about something that happened at school.
My younger son has opened up to his older brother about problems he was having at school, and my older son tells him about something cool he learned in middle school history class. By the end of the day, I’m pretty much done so I have no use for bedtime shenanigans, and they often use each other for comfort.
4. They learn that bigger isn’t always better.
Full disclosure: I’m a minimalist at heart. Extra clutter and “stuff” fills me with anxiety. That said, even aside from my propensity for a “less is more” lifestyle, it’s pretty obvious that our society has become a teensy bit obsessed with the bigger is better mentality. We have smaller families but live in bigger houses than ever before – and, quite frankly, it isn’t doing our world any good. By sharing a room, my kids are learning how to occupy less space. They are learning that stuff — houses, bedrooms, belongings — aren’t as important as relationships.
My kids have shared a room for the past 5 years or so, and despite some grumbling now and then, it’s been one of the best parenting decisions we’ve ever made. It took some convincing to get my husband to come around to the whole idea (big surprise: he didn’t share a room growing up), but even he would agree that it’s been a good move.
Our oldest son is precariously close to the teen years, which will likely complicate things a bit, but they’ll just have to figure out how to make it work. Because I firmly believe that sharing a room provides lasting benefits that far outweigh any of the downsides.
So sorry, kids, but you’ll be sharing a room for the next several years, whether you like it or not. And yes, one day, you’ll thank me.
Even if that “thank you” doesn’t come through actual words, but because you also make your own kids share a room too.