We’re trying to figure…

We're trying to figure out how long we can squeeze the kids into one bedroom, because that'll give us two separate nice-size offices for ourselves for a while. 'Cause it's all about the grown-ups, and what they need. :-) Baby boy will be in his crib in the nursery for 2-3 years, but after that there's about 5-7 years, we think, when they could maybe share a room? Kavi will be 2.5 years older than her little brother.

If the kids share a room and a bed 'til Kavi's 10 or so (that's not unreasonable, is it?), would a full-size canopy bed like this one, maybe painted a silvery-blue or mossy green be too 'girly' for a little boy? What if I made the curtains out of sari fabric? Would that tip it over the edge? I have no experience with little boys!!! My family was all girls!!!

Yes, I want to resist gender stereotyping for the kids, but I also don't want to make them feel like I'm forcing them into uncomfortably opposite-gender roles either...

18 thoughts on “We’re trying to figure…”

  1. I shared a bedroom (though not a bed) with my sister until I was nine, at which point we moved to a bigger house and got our own rooms. I think we probably could have continued to share for a year or two more without too many problems. It might end up depending somewhat on the personalities of the kids and how they get along.

    I don’t think the bed looks too girly, but my own experience of little boys is a bit limited. I wouldn’t worry about it too much – after all, if Kavi goes through a tomboy phase, *she* might decide that the bed is too girly.

  2. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Just to clarify, we’re thinking that this would go until boy is about 7.5 and girl is about 10. I have no sense of how fratricidal kids are at that point. Or of whether the mixed-gender thing is likely to be a problem pre-puberty?

    I do have vague memories of sharing a room with my sister until I was about 12 and she was about 7, and yes, there was a masking tape line down the floor at some point. But it was character-building, right? 🙂

  3. I never shared a room, or had brothers, so I have absolutely no actual experience to share. That said, my first reaction is that 10 seems awfully old to be sharing a room with an opposite gender sibling. I certainly think it would work for young children, but I’d guess that by 6-7ish Kavi would be starting to want some privacy. I was a residential camp counselor for 9-10 year olds so I do have that experience, and they were super aware of gender differences and of their interactions with boys. Obviously some of their reaction would have been different with a sibling, but even so.

    When I imagine siblings sharing a bed, I keep envisioning the opportunity to continue kicking your brother/sister under the covers even after bedtime, with no simple way for mom and dad to separate you. It’s much harder to put a masking tape line down the center of a mattress! And it means even less privacy as you get older if said sibling can roll over and hit sensitive places, even without intending to.

    That being said, I’m sure there are families that have actually done this with no problems, so feel free to ignore me if this feels like the right solution for your family.

  4. I was thinking of Kavi sharing a bed with guests/cousins/etc, not with a brother. My parents split us up on the gender side when the oldest child was 5-7. I don’t think you’ll want mixed genders in the same bedroom regularly after that. And it’s not just gender. An 8 year old with a 5 1/2 year old is asking for trouble. An 8 year old girl with a 5 1/2 year boy sounds disastrous. Actually, a 6 year old with a 3 1/2 year old sounds even worse. Frankly, propriety aside, the squabbling will likely be too intense. I would guess Kavi at 7 is your outside, and even then memories make me want to shudder.

    I don’t know what the real cutoff date will be, but I think that you can plan on earlier rather than later as it will be well worth sharing offices with Kevin to be able to separate the kids.

  5. My brother and I had bunk beds — I was older and got the top bunk — when he was 3-5 and I was 5-7, at which point we moved to a house with bedrooms for all. We ended up sharing a room and the same bunk beds 15 years later when both of us decided somewhat suddenly to live at home — that is, my mother’s 2-bedroom apartment — for a year.

    if you’re willing to rig up a canopy that’s attached to the ceiling/wall, I would consider bunkbeds. It’s hard to recall 35 years later, but I think I would have whined about having to share a room with him by age 8-9.

  6. I didn’t get my own room till I was in my late teens (*), but that was same-gender. Across them, I would tend to agree that 5-7 is probably about as high as you can hope for. Though there are different cultures involved here, and the degree of personal space needed definitely varies from person to person.

    (*) Well, not officially. There were a couple weeks here and there in which I managed it through various means (siblings away at camp, staking out the basement for myself, etc.).

  7. Obviously, you’re the parents, and you get to make the call. But just a thought: they’re the children of two people who, having *chosen* to live together, feel that strong a need to have their own space to work and think. Can they really be expected to be naturally inclined to be bunked together with someone they were paired with by genetic lottery? 🙂

    Obviously, they’ll survive– most people most times and places have less space to call their own. (Though they’re mostly not dealing with homes in the stratum you’re currently looking in, at least not with a family of four.) Still, you may want to think about how much you’ll have to hear about it over the decades, even after you’ve split them up. 🙂

    (But again, it’s your house, your kids, your call. For obvious reasons, I’ve never claimed the remotest knowledge of the ins and outs of childrearing.)

  8. Catherine Shaffer

    The house you’re buying is a pretty large Victorian, isn’t it? You don’t have to commit to bedrooms right now. I would recommend living in it for a while. A lot of times you don’t know how a house “works” for you until you’ve rearranged the furniture a few times. Personally, I question whether both of you need an upstairs bedroom for a home office. Is there perhaps a nook or a corner of another room, a finishable basement or attic space that would serve? Personalities aside, I think you will find that once the kids are school age, people will disapprove of them being in the same room. They seem to get shy about changing clothes around 8, if that helps.

  9. OK, a bit more.

    In WA, children must use public restrooms of their own sex starting age 7 (Thanks to Adrian for his infinite store of trivia). So I think we can say that age 7 is WA’s magic age.

    Also, I consulted an expert – my mother – mother of 4 – who said that you could probably have gotten away with 10 years old when we were growing up, but the culture has changed and she doubts you could pull it off now. Kids grow up earlier. (physically and mentall) And in any case, she says the fights you’ll get between the boy and girl regarding decorations/toys/space-sharing etc will likely become unbearable between age 6 and 8. For the years they do share a room, she strongly recommends separate beds if anyone ever wants to sleep. (Note: she endorses shared beds for sleepovers, relative guests, etc but says for everyday sleeping you’ll want separate beds. More sleep. Fewer bruises.) (Note 2: if you put canopies over beds, she’s willing to start a betting pool as to how long it will be before one of the children completely destroys the other child’s canopy).

  10. Walls are not that hard to add, and can be 3/4, so that it doesn’t become a masking tape issue. I’m thinking of a one-bedroom that was made from a studio, mostly so the owner wasn’t working in his bedroom. Younger kids do not need as much space as big kids and probably will be spending their waking time in “play” areas. I vote against the same bed, ever.

  11. As the parent of a 6 yr old boy and 3 yr old girl, I can tell you they LOVE sharing a bed. I’m not sure why, considering it usually means at least 1 spanking for talking, giggling, or hitting each other 2 hours past bedtime…

    It all depends on the kid. If they grow up sharing a room and a big deal is not made of it, they won’t think it odd or a problem until closer to puberty. Kavi is a very gentle child and I suspect that will carry over with her sibling, so they will most likely have a warm, loving relationship, making the co-ed room a great thing.

    Our children WISH they share a bedroom. They still share bath time. I suspect you have a minimum of 6 years of sharing and could probably pull off 9-10 but most likely by 8-9 Kavi will start to want some privacy.

  12. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Catherine, it looks like we’re likely going to be in a smaller Gunderson rather than a massive Victorian. So smaller rooms (much too small to add a half-wall down the middle :-), and fewer of them.

    Still way more rooms than what we currently have, but a good part of the impetus for the move is so that we can both have actual offices with doors that close — it’s just getting in the way of my work too much as it is that my ‘office’ is a nook on the first floor. Too distracting with Kavi around, even if Jarmila is watching her. I think it’d be impossible to get much work done once there were two kids.

    Kev and I might end up sharing an office, but that’s not ideal either, mostly because we have completely different senses of what our workspaces should be like. His is chaotic. I can’t seem to focus until I’ve cleaned away all the papers. I think I’d end up spending the beginning of each workday cleaning up his mess — and he’d be annoyed that I’d messed up his piles when he got there. It’s workable, but not ideal.

    I think at this point, I’m leaning towards letting them share a bedroom, with two twin beds that can be pushed together, perhaps. Assuming the rooms are big enough for that — when we finally get a house, we’ll need to measure.

    This all needs to get decided soonish because baby boy moves into the crib in January (hopefully), so we need to decide what size bed to buy for Kavi soon, since we’re kicking her out of her crib.

  13. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    On the other hand, if I put two twin beds in the room, then I think I have to put canopies on both of them, which is likely to be a little overwhelming, even if the beds theoretically fit. Which they might not, due to radiators and closet doors and funny angles to the walls. Maybe they’re going to have to have separate rooms after all. Pfui.

    Is 10×9 too small for a little boy’s room? If they shared a bedroom (12×13), they were going to get the tiny room for a playroom, but maybe we just abandon the playroom idea…

  14. I’ve heard a lot of complaints by apartment-dwelling kids-sharing-a-room-by-necessity folks that having the baby & toddler/preschooler in the same room is problematic because the baby wakes up the toddler. As they get older, maybe less of a problem. You can always put them in separate rooms & switch to sharing (or vice versa) as you see what kind of sleeping schedule/crying loudness level the baby has & if it bothers Kavi.

    Also, 10 seems way too old to me to be sharing a bed with an opposite gender sibling unless it’s for a campout or special short-term reason (relatives visiting, need to free up a room for the adults). I just spent the weekend with my friend’s 7.5 year old daughter & 7 seems to be more like 12 these days (as someone earlier pointed out). Much more “tween” than little kid (aka closer to “teen”).

    My younger son’s BR is about 8X10 and we have a toddler bed (used to be crib), storage bench at the foot of the bed, 2 short “Billy” bookcases (with doors), Hemnes (I think) dresser that doubles as a changing table (pad on top), plus a small play kitchen & assorted toys (he also has a small closet) and a rocking chair. All furniture by IKEA except the rocking chair & play kitchen.

    It sounds crowded, but all the furniture is pushed up against the walls, none of it is very big (bookcases are about 3.5 feet tall), and most of it is white. The bookcases have doors & they hold both books & toys. Since the clutter is concealed it helps the room feel bigger.

    I would vote against a canopy in the smaller room because having open space near the ceiling makes the room feel bigger. With a rug from Target in ocean colors (blues/greens), & pale yellow walls, my son’s room is both functional & cozy and doesn’t feel too small/cramped. When he outgrows the toddler bed, we plan to replace it with a twin bed with storage underneath. By that time, the play kitchen & some of the toys will probably go away as well and the storage bench can be repurposed elsewhere (I’m thinking our 3 season back porch for putting on shoes). Closed storage for clutter control is my #1 recommendation for small spaces!

  15. I think others have already basically made this point, but I’ll chime in to second the ‘kids grow up quicker than they used to’ point. I was actually thinking about this last night – you’re talking about 10 being pre-puberty, and that may not necessarily be the case. I believe studies have shown that kids are getting there earlier than they once did – in terms of measureable physical developments, not just behaviors and life experiences. So even if Kavi herself is still very much a little girl at that age, some of her classmates probably won’t be, which will filter through in terms of how she thinks about gender relationships.

  16. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Okie, having gone and looked at houses some more this morning, I think they each get their own room, probably with trundle beds. If they want to bunk together sometimes, we’re not going to object. 🙂

  17. Catherine Shaffer

    Bah. Your pregnancy nesting hormones are making you think it’s an emergency to decide where both of your children will sleep eight years from now. 8P I think the 10X9 room would be a great room for a nursery. It would also work as a little office, in my opinion. But the point is you don’t have to commit right now. You can rearrange your whole house at least five times in eight years. You might put an addition on. You might knock down a wall. One of you might decide not to use a home office anymore at all. (Most at home workers weary of the home office before five years, and start looking for a space to rent outside the home.) Maybe you’ll move to a different house altogether. Just enjoy all the goodness that is coming your way and know that it will all work out somehow in the end. As others have noted, you have personalities to accommodate, too. I do know a pair of brothers who shared one double bed until one of them was pretty old–I’m thinking 12 or something. They HAD rooms and beds of their own. They just liked being together.

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