In your children’s, and perhaps your, perfect world, they would each have their own bedroom to retreat to for playtime, homework and sleep. In reality, they have to share the room and, sometimes, you’ve considered giving up your own just to keep the peace. Sharing a room is a great way for children to learn to get along with each other. Guidelines for behavior will help them respect each other’s space.
Your problem is that one child goes to bed at 7 p.m. while the other one is old enough to stay up later. Although it is your older child’s room too, he can’t be in there with the lights on while his younger sibling is trying to sleep. After the little one’s bedtime, provide plenty of activities for the older one outside of the bedroom. Let him watch television in your room, or set up an area in the family or living room for him to read or do homework. Make sure you have all the things he needs to get ready for bed out of the room before the first bedtime. Set up a special cubby in the bathroom or even in your room for his pajamas and other night time necessities.
Your Shelf, My Shelf
Your children each have their prized toys that they absolutely do not want the other one playing with. While you would rather they share, accept that that won’t always happen. Keep the peace in a shared room by giving each child a special bookshelf or wall shelf to store their prizes on. If the other child would like to touch or play with an item on the special shelf, she needs to ask her sibling first.
Your 7-year-old daughter may be into horses while your 5-year-old is going through her princess phase. Instead of forcing your daughters to choose one taste over the other, potentially inviting a meltdown, split the room in half. Let your daughter hang pictures of horses on the wall by her bed, and allow your other daughter to set up her princess display by her bed. Let them choose their own bedsheets and curtains, too.
Once your children hit school age, you may want to establish a daily quiet hour or two in the room, so that they can each get their homework done without hassle. During quiet time, they shouldn’t play music or watch television in the room. You may also need to limit their access to the Internet during this time. If one of them finishes his work before the other, he should be free to go to another room of the house to play. If a child needs additional time after quiet time to complete his work, set up a work space in another quiet area of the house, to prevent the other child from feeling locked out of his room.