With the average NYC apartment coming in at only 866 square feet, it’s common and often necessary for families to put two (or more!) children into one bedroom. This presents some challenges, but with the following tips you can successfully put two siblings in the same room and give each their personal space.

Creating Privacy and Personal Space

Younger children probably don’t need privacy when they share a room, but older children may take issue with a lack of personal space. To address this, you can divide the space into separate areas, giving each child their bed, dresser, and nightstand. Sharing a room doesn’t necessarily mean the children have to share every one of their belongings all the time. Set up rules that teach your children to respect each other’s belongings and ask permission before using things that don’t belong to them.

In tiny rooms, consider loft beds that allow you to put the children’s dressers and desks underneath them to maximize the space. Some families use dressers (or other tall furniture) to physically divide the room into separate areas, placing the beds on either side of the dressers. Some families will string a curtain down the middle to provide a little privacy. A curtain can be pulled back when the kids want to socialize, which makes it a great, flexible solution.

White Noise Machine

If your children are not getting a good night sleep due to sharing a room, consider a white noise machine, or merely play white noise over Spotify. If one child coughs, talks in their sleep, or snores, it can prevent the other from getting a solid night’s sleep. Using a white noise machine can promote deeper sleep and prevent kids from waking up throughout the night.

Honor Age-Appropriate Bedtimes

Just because your children share a room doesn’t mean they should have the same bedtime. Older children should have a developmentally appropriate bedtime—not be sent to bed at the time required of younger siblings. This also helps make the bedtime process much easier. If you put your children to bed at the same time, you can probably expect to talk and playing instead of sleeping. Staggering the bedtime means the younger child has a chance to fall asleep before the older child comes in, and with the younger sibling already asleep, the older child is more likely to read quietly or fall asleep without distraction.

Decorate for Each Child

Sometimes parents emphasize decorating the room to match, but if your children have different preferences, this may not be the best way to approach room design. Instead, consider letting each child have a say in how to decorate their side or area of the room. This may mean using different paint colors on opposite walls or choosing non-matching comforters, but it’s more important for each child to express their personality than it is to have a perfectly designed and matching room.

Siblings who share a room have a lot of time to bond with one another. While this can present challenges at times, ensuring each child has their space and some privacy, and that the bedtime kinks are worked out, will result in successful room sharing.

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