June 6th, 2008

Sharing Bedrooms, Keeping Privacy

Dawn writes:

Since you have so many wonderfully smart and creative readers, I have a question that perhaps they can help me with. We are expecting baby #5 in the fall and will need to re-arrange where the existing children will be sleeping in order to accommodate the new baby.

We currently have four boys who, when the baby arrives, will be 9,7,4 and 18 months. We have decided to pair up each older child with a younger child so the 9 year old will share with the 4 year old and the 7 year old with the 18 month old. With that said, I am trying to find inexpensive ways to perhaps give the older boys a little bit of β€œprivacy” within their room sharing situation. Perhaps some sort of room divider or curtain near their beds to create their own little nook where they can feel like they have a little of their own space. Any suggestions?

25 comments to Sharing Bedrooms, Keeping Privacy

  • Mary W.

    If you have an Ikea near you, you should check the store out. They have inexpensive children’s room gear. Otherwise, you could request a catalog. Ikea.com doesn’t really have much to sell on the website, & what they offer is more the high end items. Many things are made in Europe; that is a plus as opposed to China. I hope this helps a little.

  • Karen

    My older girls share a room…they have bunk beds…ages 9 and 7. Thankfully, they naturally get along very well. To help them have a sense of their own space, they each have their own desk and bookshelf. Even though there are no dividers in the room, having their own desk and desk space really fosters independence. For example, one girl keeps her desk perfectly arranged. The other’s desk is pretty “unkept” until she’s forced to clean it. It works well for us. Good luck with your situation.

  • Some links to some options:

    Room Divider 1

    Room Divider 2

    More advice at ohdeedoh.com doing a “room divider” search. I love this website!

    Danielle says: Comment edited to clean up the links.

  • Diane

    I second the bunk beds idea. My oldest daughter (8) shares with her three-year-old sister, and soon her 1-year-old sister. The top bed is hers and hers alone–no one else is allowed up there. She keeps her journal and anything she doesn’t want the girls to touch up there. It took me a while to get used to the idea of “messy” bed, but her privacy is more important than a perfectly made bed.

    We also divide the dresser top space, so they each have a spot to put their stuff, and obviously their drawers are their own.

  • I was just wondering why you wouldn’t put the two older boys together and the two younger boys together? When you have siblings close in age, they usually share some similar interests and therefore it can make it easier to decorate the room, choose bedding, etc. Plus, the big brothers may not want to share a room with a “baby”. We had four girls in our family and we partnered up based on age, and it worked out great! Anyways, it’s just a suggestion, I’m sure you have a good reason to split them up. I’d be interested to hear your point-of-view. Have a great weekend!

  • Sally

    We have been in your shoes, Dawn. We always would put the baby, when he/she was about 5-6 months in a crib and in the room where the deepest sleepers slept, knowing the baby would cry a lot and wake up a lot. so far, its been do-able but not perfect.
    One thing we have done was to allow each of our boys a wall of their own-to decorate, to hang their own drawings on, and whatever pictures or decorations they want. that gives them a great sense of their own stuff. our children are young too, and they do not spend lots of time in their rooms-we have a playroom and a den that holds all their toys.

  • Actually, we had our 7 and 6 year olds together and our 3 and 2 year olds together, and the boys did not like it. The 6 and 3 year olds voluntarily switched and it has been that way for 4 months – they all love it. Really, the personalities mesh better this way. I find that the older boy likes being a “helper” to a younger one. The brother close in age beomes more of a natural rival. Not that they don’t get along well normally. Just not as roommates. Does that make any sense?

    I would also love to give each boy his own space, but a separate desk area isn’t pratical when bedrooms are only 11×9 and 11×10. We have a set of bunk beds, a 5 drawer chest, and a small bookshelf -the rooms already seem full!

    I am also curious to read others suggestions…

  • Michelle in MO

    We have a privacy problem in our boys’ room. We have an 11yo, 9yo and an almost 6yo in there and the 6yo is the “privacy invader”. My 9yo decided to work with dad on a home-made “chest” that he is going to put a lock on so he can keep his things in there. It’s not finished yet, but this may be an idea for the older children to have their own “chest” where than can keep their things that they don’t want the younger children getting in to. In our other bedroom we have girls, an almost 8yo and a 2yo. So far, the 8yo LOVES being big sister to the 2yo!

    I, too, will be interested to see of some ingenious way to make this work! Our bedrooms are mainly designed for sleeping only so it hasn’t been too much of a problem. . . . yet! πŸ˜‰

  • Michelle in MO

    P.S. Our older boys have bunk beds and the 11yo keeps a lot of his stuff up in his bunk and for the most part, no one goes up there.

  • My husband and I have 8 kiddos (ages 12 – 1) and have them all sharing rooms – 3 boys in a room and 4 girls in a room, baby closer to us downstairs. We have 5 bedrooms and could have split them up a bit more, but we think it is better for them to be together. It has been a positive thing for the most part, but I do see the need for them to have a bit of privacy. So we have devised different things. I have a handy dad, so he made each of the kids a wooden chest in which to keep their personal treasures. This is in their room. Then they each also have one of those plastic (cheapy) sets of drawers in the schoolroom to keep various things relating to school or not. Since they have bunkbeds with little shelves they can also keep personal goodies there. Of course the challenge is keeping the little ones from ransacking other peoples’ things (esp. during nap time!), but the rules are pretty clear and there are disciplinary measures in place! Another thing we do regularly is have an afternoon quiet time where the kids are reading off in some corner independently. Hope this helps and congratulations on your new baby!

  • Vanessa

    We haven’t run into this yet (only 3 and 1 yo now) But some of the ideas I have are to use a bookshelf as a functional divider or to screw little hooks on opposite wall, run picture wire (or clothes line) across and hang a shower curtain. I have also seen over/under bunk beds that seem designed to give a little seperate space, like little shelves and desks built in. Seems like it would be kinda pricey, but also could be possible to build….

  • Sandy

    Do you have a large closet somewhere in the house? Maybe half of the laundry room? It could be turned into “The Solitude (Sanity!) Room” and made comfortable. Whoever needs the break gets some time in the room.

    I’ll be watching this thread….I’ve had this question, but never a good solution to it. When it becomes an issue, I usually resort to, “Well, I didn’t have my own room until I joined the Army.” I was 22 at the time.

  • Dawn

    oops – I meant to wrap up with…

    great suggestions!
    God bless!

  • Dawn

    Ok, apparently I’m having technical difficulties today πŸ™‚ I thought my original comment went through but here it is again.

    My older two actually volunteered to pair up with a “little”. It was their idea. My now 3 and 6 year olds seem to bicker a lot where as my 9 and 3 get along great and my 6 dotes on the current baby of the family. It’s all just in the ages and chemistry i guess. So for now i think it will work. Plus, the older ones know to just roll over and go back to sleep should a “little one” wake up for some reason.

    Thanks ladies and keep those great ideas coming!
    God bless,

  • Elizabeth (in Canada)

    I ditto the bunkbeds idea. My 10 and 12 year old boys share a smallish room and the bunk beds are great. The top bunk is a private area just because of the height, and the bottom bunk is private because we put curtains on two sides and two sides are against the wall. (The curstains are hung with velcro or snaps that come off easily, so there’s no ‘hanging’ danger, but my guys are older too.)

    Also, on the wall for the bottom bunk we put up some plastic eavestroughing for a shelf so that books, eyeglasses, etc. all had a place to go without needing an bedside table. The top bunk has Ikea pockets hanging on it, but mostly my son just strews stuff around. The eavestroughing would work for the top bunk too if you have straight walls to the ceiling, but we have slightly angled walls that start just above the bunk level.


  • Robin

    hmmm…For girls canopies or drapes would work well of course but for boys something similar to a tent perhaps suspended from the ceiling would be very cool I think. I have seen them sold too. They rest atop the bed post. It would make me claustrophobic but turtlenecks do that too so… πŸ™‚ My son, though he has his own room made a Fortress of solitude on his bottom bunk at one point (it’s a Superman thing). Blessings!Robin

  • Elizabeth

    If they have seperate beds the room could be divided some by a dresser and/or bookcase in the middle. It makes it feel more private.

  • mcm

    yeah, i was going to suggest a bookshelf as well. one that might work well is an open one that can be set up with some things facing one child and some facing the other child. i got mine from target. it’s a closet organizer shelf i think, you can hook them together to make a large open bookshelf. it works great. i also put my oldest and youngest together and my two “middle” children my daughter and second son, they just get along really well, and, before he now has his own room, my oldest got along very well with the (then) baby (now 3) he still felt like he had his own space. so, it just has to be whatever works. anyway, that’s my suggestion. i am into getting them nice bedding too, so it might be great to get them fun bedspreads that match their personalities if it’s in the budget. the bookshelves from target are very budget friendly. Good luck!

  • snowshoe

    We have 4 boys in a room (ages 10,9,5,and3) and they all do fine. The older boys definitely want to have their own stuff, but they seemed to desire space of their own outside of the bedroom. So they have some space on the workbench in the garage for their valuable chunks of metal and other junk, and they each have their own space outside for keeping those wonderful sticks and other treasures that we wouldn’t let them keep in their bedrooms anyway.

  • Molly

    I actually second Colleen’s idea of considering letting the two older boys share a room and the two youngers in their own room. The toys are more likely to be similar, as well as books and bedtimes.

  • Theresia

    Our 16yo and 13yo boys have shared a room forever and I plan to keep it that way awhile longer even though a bedroom has cleared with the eldest at college. Now, having 6 boys, I do understand the personality thing about room sharing. Our eldest two were so different but I wonder now if having them share a room might have been good in the long run. (always second guessing). Anyway, ‘privacy’ hasn’t really been an issue. They do want space to put their own things and they do wish the littles wouldn’t get into it too! I wonder if your son’s are worried about ‘privacy’? Is it really simply a matter of having a space to put their things that no one else is allowed to touch without permission? I guess I would hesitate to put up some sort of physical barrier in the room. I don’t care for that ‘my side, your side’ business.

    Each of our children have one underbed storage box for ‘things’ a dresser top space and the 16yo and 13yo share a book shelf too. so far not much of an issue unless some culprit invades….

    Our 2yo little darling is still in our room in a pack n play. When we move her out it could mean a major overhaul of bedrooms and I’m not ready or convinced how to manage that. Our 17yo dshas a small bedroom. Our 10 yo dd has a little bedroom – not even a closet. Our 16 and 13yo share. Our 8 and 5yo boys share. sigh. 10yo dd bedroom is too small to even fit a toddler bed in for little sister. I may bunk the 5 and 8yo and put baby Anne in with them – it is right next to our bedroom – actually attached by a direct door so I can keep an eye on my babe. Wonder how those boys would like it? For awhile I think they’d think it was great but….. For now it would literally be moving her to the other side of the door that she is sleeping up against so why bother…. life is too short and I’m way too busy…. πŸ˜‰

  • One space saver that I love, but that is not cheap, is to buy “captian’s beds.” The twin beds have a set of drawers under them. This has helped us because my kids do not like bunk beds. The one who had to sleep did not feel secure.

  • Grandma Elaine

    At my household growing up, A 7 year younger sister slept with me, but all her clothes, toys and etc were in a younger sisters room. That was her room, except for sleeping. They didn’t blend well at night, but same interests during the day. This worked fine.

  • The thought of the captain’s bed made me think about a trundle bed – when there’s one bed under another that you pull out when you need and when they wake up push back in under the other bed.

    I haven’t used one, and my kids aren’t old enought for me to be thinking about this, so I don’t know if they are practical or not, but they seem to save space.

  • Kathi

    We have 8 children: 5 boys and 3 girls. Two boys are in each room together. In one room, I have the bunk beds unstacked and connecting together near a corner of a room. This has created an open space in the corner for privacy….it’s small the the 7 year old loves his little cubby space. The 5 year old has an area under his bed. His bed is a few feet off the floor. If you just unstack the beds, you’ll have one higher than the other. This is the way I prefer to keep it. I made curtains to go around the beds years ago and now the curtains hang from the 5 year old’s bed to the floor. He has his own private kingdom under there and loves it! When the beds are stacked, each bed has curtain around it for privacy. I pick up a safety light at IKEA for each child and they have a reading area on their beds.

    My older boys have always shared. We’ve changed their arrangements over the years to accomodate privacy. Currently they have 2 matching beds with drawers under. They are all very tall, over 6 feet and we had some issues of the beds being too small. The sleep on platform beds I found at Big Lots. They have a nightstand between the beds to hold their stuff and each has a small trunk to throw in their “treasures.” The closet has an organizer in it with each having their own side. We don’t have dressers in the children’s rooms because they take up too much space and honestly, the children stuff their clothes in them and they are a mess. Instead, we use closet organizers or open books shelves from Big Lots with baskets to hold socks, underpants and PJs.

    The two girls share a Queen bed – by request. They have a window seat to store their “treasures.” They each have a vanity. They share a large walk in closet. The closet has a couple of bookshelf organizers with the baskets to contain their stuff. On these, I also store their seasonal clothes. They have their bed up on lifts to store even more stuff under it. My girls have way too much stuff!

    The baby – 16 months old- has her “own” room. She has a queen bed in it ready for guests or our college son to return home. He doesn’t mind too much sleeping in a pink, frilly room! She’s a light sleeper and isn’t ready to have someone in her room with her yet. Eventually she may move in with an older sister….or better yet, BECOME and older sister!

    No pictures….I didn’t say we were CLEAN and organized!

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