Shared or Separate Bedrooms? Pros and Cons from a Been-There Mom
Do your children share a bedroom? Today, I welcome The Better Mom contributor, Becky Kopitzke, to share her been-there done-that experiences and to remind us no matter our choice, the point of a family is to love and serve one another as a team. -XO, Ruth
At age 2, my second-born daughter developed an aversion to bears. Because, apparently, the bears lived in her closet. And they weren’t exactly friendly.
Naturally, this led to bedtime wars.
My husband and I tried everything. We “sprayed” for bears, prayed against bears, armed her with flashlights and stuffed animals and kisses. Yet night after night, our daughter pitter-pattered out of bed, blaming the pesky bear situation. Repeat this scenario five or ten or twenty times and finally, one evening, we had enough. My husband made a desperate call and moved the toddler bed into our older daughter’s room, where under her big sister’s protection our little one felt fast asleep without a fuss.
The girls shared a room for six more years.
Now at ages 11 and 8, we have again granted them separate rooms, at our older daughter’s request. Middle school girls like their space; I respect that. Yet there are some aspects of shared rooming that our girls miss. And so do I.
Here are the pros and cons of shared vs. separate bedrooms for kids, from one mom’s been-there, done-that experience.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Philippians 2:4, NLT)
Placing both our girls in one bedroom opened space for a separate playroom, which eventually became a home office. If your square footage is limited, shared bedrooms are a space-saver.
Our daughters were forced to share and compromise. They had to think of each other’s concerns and not just their own. For example, if one wanted to sleep while the other wanted to read, they learned to accommodate each other. This is a godly skill that will serve them well in school, social situations, college dorms and marriage. That is to say—sharing is healthy for life.
Sharing a room gave our kids opportunities to bond and build memories. My husband and I will always treasure the giggling we heard coming from our daughters’ room nearly every night. They chatted, they read to each other, they made up jokes and songs and stories. Sometimes we had to scold them to stop yapping and go to sleep, but, truth be told, their chatter never really bothered us. Mostly it made us smile.
Multiple kids in one room means a bigger mess that is always, miraculously, somebody else’s fault. It wasn’t until we separated our girls that I discovered my eight-year-old is actually quite tidy. While learning to share stuff can be healthy, it can also create arguments when it’s time to pick up the stuff.
My girls had to compromise on everything—décor, lights out, use of the space in general. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but as kids grow older it’s also healthy to allow them some autonomy and personal expression.
When one child has a friend over, there’s no personal space to play in which the other sibling is not allowed. Same goes for those nights when one wakes up puking and the other is unavoidably exposed. Sometimes shared space can feel a little too close.
“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” (Galatians 6:4–5)
Providing individual bedrooms holds each child accountable to his or her own mess. Like I mentioned, I’m suddenly discovering that the constant clutter of my girls’ shared room might actually have been due to one child, not both. Yet now that the girls have their own rooms, they’re both taking more ownership. I can tell they’re each motivated to keep their rooms clean because they’re proud of their very own space.
Separate rooms have sparked creativity and given my daughters an opportunity to express their personal tastes. My 11-year-old is crafting decorations for her walls, while my 8-year-old is organizing her books the way she wants them. It’s fun to see their individual personalities shine through in the way they treat their rooms.
A personal room can be viewed as a privilege and therefore a greater responsibility. This allows for character building, especially as kids get older.
When the kids aren’t getting along, it helps to send them to separate rooms to talk to Jesus and restart their hearts.
We have a small house, so separate bedrooms means a tighter squeeze overall. Shared bedrooms are certainly more economical, but if space isn’t an issue for you then you’re immune to this con. Count yourself blessed!
Gone are the sweet giggles we used to hear night after night at bedtime. Now that our girls are in separate rooms, their togetherness is no longer built into the floor plan. But it’s also not such a bad thing for all of us to be more intentional about spending quality time together.
The beauty of a shared bedroom is the inherent lesson in selflessness. Therefore, if your children have never experienced shared bedrooms—or bathrooms, for that matter—then you may need to be more intentional about teaching them to look out for one another’s interests (Philippians 2:4).
Whatever bedroom arrangements you choose, let’s all remember the point of a family is to love and serve one another as a team. So make sure your kitchen is stocked with snacks and your family room is piled with board games and movie nights and laughter. Because the best part of family life is togetherness—no matter where we lay our heads.
Share this post: