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30th Jun 2017

Should children share a bedroom (even if they don’t have to)?

It's not all Walton Mountain round ours...

Alison Bough

Sharing is caring, but should you make your children share a room even if they don’t have to?

children share room

I didn’t come from a big family, there were just two of us and we were close in age albeit different genders. Despite the fact that there was space enough for us not to share a bedroom, we chose to share for many years. I ‘moved out’ into my own room when I was about seven but missed the company of my little brother.

My husband, on the other hand, was forced to share a space with his brother for the majority of his time at home and despised it. When we became parents to two boys – ‘Irish twins’ close in age – we hotly debated the issue of room sharing. But then their little sister came along, we moved house, and the problem was solved for us. We no longer had the space; the boys were sharing and that was that.

When they were much smaller we would tuck them up in their individual beds and, come morning time, find them holding each other like twins in utero in one bed. It was adorable but the situation naturally presented other challenges. As they grew, they fought (and sometimes raged against) each other about ownership of everything – their toys, their clothes, their football boots, even for full possession of the ladder on their bunk beds.

children sharing bedroom

There have been tears about the injustice of it all and loud objections lodged – why does SHE get her own room? The gender card not quite cutting it in the boys’ eyes when it comes to the division of personal space. We tried, in the name of fairness and modern parenting, to delineate clear and definable boundaries between our sons’ beds, wardrobes, shelves and drawers. We eventually admitted defeat when it came to the toys. Luckily for us, they go to bed at the same time so we’ve never had to have that argument. I can only imagine the hysteria if older got to stay up for longer than younger.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all Walton Mountain round ours. As much as I love the soft sound of their nightly chats, shared secrets, post-match analyses and giggles floating down the hall, I do have reservations about the future of their space-sharing. Will they affect each other’s sleep patterns? Will they resent their lack of privacy when they hit adolescence? Will they end up disliking each other purely as a result of being forced to share a bedroom for years?

For now, it’s a moot point. Bar Dermot Bannon gifting us with a nice new extension this year, my boys are stuck where they are. But, given the choice, I don’t think I’d have it any other way and I hazard a guess that neither would they.