Since the moment I found out I was pregnant with Mae, I have been obsessing about how young kids share rooms, in particular in small spaces. While I combed the internet and pinterest trying to understand all the different ways people lay out the rooms, I realized that I already had some wonderful resources on the matter. There is this amazing community of fellow small space dwellers I have met through this blog, who have been doing this long before me. Long before I started worrying about it while I try to fall asleep at night.
I hope this will be a series with varying perspectives on how to share rooms with 2 or more kids, particularly in small homes. I am so grateful that Emily Morrice of Our Nest in the City offered to share her thoughts and experience with 3 kids sharing one room in a 900 square foot apartment. Her insights and helpful tips have already eased my mind. Hopefully they will ease yours too.
A Bit About Em:
Hey friends! I’m Emily and I live in Montreal with my husband and three little ones in a cozy 900 square foot two bedroom condo. I work part time as a free-lance writer, lifestyle blogger, and Beauty Counter consultant. Other than those 15-ish hours a week, I’m primarily at home with my little ones enjoying our bilingual city life. I write about minimalism, food, city life, and travel, among other things at Our Nest In The City, and I take a great deal of inspiration from others like Alison who are thriving with less and creating cozy nests for their families in great cities.
Can you tell me a bit about your kids?
As I said, we have three littles. Lily, who is 6, Oli, who is 5, and Chloe (who also goes by Clover) who is 3. Lily goes to the local French school, Oli does to pre-Kindergarten at the local bi-lingual school, and Clover attends a forest-school + Montessori-inspired play school nearby two mornings a week. Yes, for one year only they’re all at different schools (#notideal). They are all so unique but they make a great team! I really believe having them all share a bedroom contributes to their awesome friendship.
Why did you decide to have them share a room? Was it by choice or necessity?
We had no choice to have them share a room, as we only have two bedrooms (did I mention both me and my husband work from home?), but we always say we’re so glad circumstances forced it upon us.
What ages were your kids when you put them in the same room? And what is the current set up ie) bunkbeds, side by side beds, cribs etc?
We started off with our oldest having a room to herself and gradually added the babies to the room when they started sleeping through the night – around 6 months. Until each baby was sleeping through the night, he or she slept in a bassinet in our room, or in our second bathroom –totally a luxury in cities, I know!
Now that we are crib-free, our set up is most ideal. The kids all sleep in a bunk bed with a trundle bed underneath. So we sleep three kids in the footprint of one twin sized bed! More room to play, which is helpful when you don’t have a back yard!
Were there any initial challenges to them sharing a room you can share ie) nap schedules, noise, sneaking out of bed?
Are there still challenges to them sharing a room?
Room sharing is always intimidating at the outset, but we’ve figured out some hacks to make it simpler. Firstly, naps are always in separate rooms. Our kids don’t nap anymore, but for years we had a pack-and- play set up in our bedroom for someone to nap in. We never had more than two nappers at once, so this set up was fine. Second, we stagger bedtimes to make for easier transitions. Clover is our youngest and wildest, and stopped napping before age two. The silver lining to no naps is that she’s ready for bed at 6pm, over an hour before her older siblings. If we put all the kids to bed at the same time, its chaos, with our baby as the ring leader. The olders follow around 7:30pm and are allowed to talk quietly for as long as they like as long as they’re in their beds. They rarely wake Clover, so it works well. Mornings are staggered a bit too, since Oli, our son, who is always the last to fall asleep, likes to sleep in. When I hear the girls up around 6:30am, I run in to get them out so Oli can sleep for another hour. It’s all about timing with this shared room thing!
Other tricks to make room sharing easier include black out curtains (darkness!), a white noise machine (if one wakes from a nightmare, being sick, or having an accident the others aren’t disturbed), lavender essential oil (probably just a placebo effect, but I think it’s soothing for everyone), and a baby gate at the door. Our rule is, the kids can always call for us in the night and we’ll always hear because hello, small space living, but they’re not allowed to leave their room after bedtime. We even put a potty in there so they have no excuses!
What are the good parts/benefits you see in your kids sharing a room?
Any advice or tips you can share for other parents considering sharing rooms?
Small space living, including having our three littles in the same bedroom, has shaped our family culture in so many positive ways. We simply don’t have space for tons of toys or books so we are forever purging and the kids are constantly being asked the question, “Do I really need this?Could someone else benefit from it instead?” I can’t imagine fostering minimalism and simplicity when tons of extra space tempting me to consume and acquire more, and I like that our whole family is forced to think about our things differently because of living in a smaller space.
They also have to share everything in their room, which teaches generosity and sharing from birth, and so the kids aren’t possessive of their belongings. They’re always together and are forced to get along. Recently one of our kids learned that a friend of theirs had a room separate from their sibling and they were so confused and sad by the concept. We sometimes imagine a future (far in the distance!) with an extra bedroom, but our kids insist that they’ll never want to be split up. I’m sure that will change when they’re much older, but for now we love the closeness and simplicity that comes from one shared space.
Em, I can't thank you enough for sharing this peek into your wonderful urban life with 3 kiddos. Your insights and tips are immensely helpful.