My husband and I each shared a bedroom with our respective brothers until we hit middle school, as we each grew up in small houses. We have figured sharing a room was fine for our kids too, until we moved again and our daughter was a bit older.
We have the space for them, but it’s been infinitely easier, on me, for them to share a room. It’s a smaller amount of space for them to maintain, one less room for me to manage with cleaning and laundry and linen changing, all of that stuff.
And thanks, I think, to the two of them sharing a room, they have become a very cohesive unit. A team. It’s fun to watch. They do get on each other’s nerves, but it’s relatively infrequent. I love hearing them giggle at night (even when I’m yelling across the house, “Go. To. BED!!!”) I love hearing them in the morning, chatting quietly with each other, him asking questions, her answering, or vice versa, on whatever it is that’s on their minds.
But they’re getting older. Their schedules matched quite perfectly for about three years. But now, our daughter can stay up far later and remain well rested. She loves (and needs) to read, sometimes late into the night. And our son has deferred to his sister’s design and aesthetic sense for quite some. He seems to want to assert himself a bit more. I’ve noticed him setting up “displays” of his Star Wars characters in random places in the house, because he has no space in the room he shares with his sister.
I’ve been ruminating on all these things, but figured when we moved into a new state and home, we’d separate the kids into their own bedrooms. We could ride out another several months.
But others have been ruminating, too.
I got home from a 1/2-weekend getaway with a couple girlfriends yesterday. My husband and our kids had about 30 solid hours together, jam packed with fun and adventure, and lots of observation time by my husband. And my husband told me, after the kids had gone to bed, “Just noticing them this weekend… I think they want their own rooms. Maybe we should do this before school starts.”
School starts in 8 days.
Gears started turning immediately. We would need to rearrange three rooms–a bedroom, a guest room, and a playroom/multi-purpose room–in the next several days (because of course they should be in their new rooms at least by Saturday, two have two solid nights in their new space before the first day of school, right? I like the idea of them waking up gently on Sunday morning, the last day of summer vacation, in their new space, enjoying the start of a new era… Ok, maybe I’m projecting a little.).
Several days, three rooms. Lots and lots of toys and books.
I grilled my husband on whether the kids knew that he thought we should give them their own room. Did the kids say they wanted their own rooms? What precipitated this? Were they fighting, were they just wondering about the new house we’ll eventually have? What is their motivation? I needed answers.
Apparently, he witnessed a lot of our pair getting on each other’s nerves over the 30 hours he spent with them. Now, I have tended to just let that ride, remind them to be nice to each other, tell them to take a ten-minute break from one another, and move on. But my husband also had some one-on-one conversations with our daughter while I was away.
“She’s really excited about moving, about new space, a new house, a new pet… I don’t know, maybe because she’s heard us talking about it. I guess it’s a good thing, but she’s really thinking about it.”
She’s restless. If we give them their own rooms now, we can give them each a taste of that change that our daughter seeks. Channel that restlessness.
I suggested which room would work for our younger son. I started thinking about how to bring up the subject with them, hoping that our son would like our decision on what room he’d have… I started imagining how to set up the playroom to be the new guest room, hoping my mother-in-law, our most frequent guest, would like it… I woke up thinking about this. (I’m weird.)
As I gave the kids breakfast this morning, I asked, “Hey, would you two like your own rooms now?” They both nearly spit out their cereal in their haste to nod vigorously and say “yes!”
I asked the next question. “Well, [Son,] would you like the guest room? You like to go in there anyway when you want to have quiet time.” He nodded, chewing, saying “Mmm hmmm!!”
Our daughter (perfectly fine with her default room assignment, thank God, which I learned, they call the “Rainbow Room” because of the colors of the curtains) asked where Grandma would sleep when she visits. I explained we’d turn the playroom into a guest room. Then it hit them.
“What about all our toys?”
“Well, you’ll need to choose your favorite toys and you’ll keep them in your own rooms. Anything else, we’ll store or give to younger children who would like to play with them. And if you have your own rooms with your toys in them, what will you do?”
Chorus: “Put them away when we’re done!”
And so, they finished their breakfast and got dressed for the day. And they are now sorting through toys into “keep” and “store/give away” piles. It’s been a half hour, and they’re still sorting.
I should go help. I will, soon. But for now, it’s really nice to listen them work so well together.
And I need to get away more often. For all my skill at maintaining order and routine and a sense of calm, it is incredibly gratifying when fresh eyes see what I see, but shake things up for the better.