Monday, October 22, 2012

Siblings Sharing Bedrooms - "You have *how* many per room?!"

The topic of siblings sharing bedrooms in our house has been an amusing one for me as people always seem to want to know how we do it.  How we get 9 kids in to two tiny bedrooms, with their stuff, and with their personalities - and actually have them sleep.  *laugh*  I'll show you.  

And Sherry Hayes from Large Family Mothering has agreed to share in answering this topic with me on her blog as well, another great addition to our "Large Family matters" co-writing projects.  Because we both care deeply about large family matters; and because large family matters.  *smile*


  • Why is sharing bedrooms valuable?
  • Setting up the bedrooms
  • What about all their stuff?
  • Going to sleep
  • Nap times
  • Ages of children and how that plays in 
  • Do we have boys and girls together in rooms?
  • Who should clean the room?
  • Handling sickness
  • Different personalities?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
 

Why is sharing rooms valuable?
Ten years ago when we were about to have our third baby we were living in a 2-bedroom apartment, which meant that the 3 kids were going to be sharing a bedroom...I knew that they - and we - would never sleep again.  *laugh*  But I was so wrong.  I believed what friends told me.  But children learn great character by sharing a bedroom and we've since learned that it is very good for them to do so.  The kids were so fine sharing that bedroom, and they slept great.

Then we moved in to our first house (our current house), and we have a girls bedroom and a boys bedroom.  Our two daughters slept in one room, and our little son in the other - and he was so lonely!  Without his sisters he was sure they were having a party in there and he was not invited.  *chuckle*  Poor guy.  But the rooms are tiny, and we had room for him to be in his own room, so it never occurred to me to have him be in their room with them for a while until he had another brother to sleep with.  So he slept alone.  

Then the Lord gave us another girl - which only meant the "girl party" just increased.  *sigh*  Poor Brandon was still alone.  *laugh*  When the Lord finally gave us another little son Brandon was so excited!  But then he was very disillusioned when he learned that his little brother wouldn't be sleeping in the boys room for quite a while still.  Brandon would say, "So...when exactly does Riley get to sleep with me??"  But the Lord would then give Brandon second brother, and then a third brother - making that 4 brothers total in the boys room, and Brandon was so, so happy.  *beam*

When siblings share a bedroom there are great benefits for the children's lives, from what we've been taught and from our own experience.  Of course that's easy to say, and it sounds so nice...and it takes a lot of work... and the fruit is so sweet. 

First of all, sharing bedrooms is very practical with the amount of space the average family has in their home.  Most people have between 2-4 bedrooms in their house.  It makes the most sense for children to be able to share bedrooms.  Especially when the Lord desires, deserves, and expects lordship in our lives in the area of family planning, this often means that we get blessed with a bunch of kids.  But many people, sadly enough, decide that they will not surrender lordship to Christ in family planning because of something so simple as believing that they don't have enough bedrooms to do so.  But this is an untruth from the world and from the enemy of our souls, keeping us in fear and out of obedience and blessing.  God can bless children through sharing their bedrooms.

There is also so much character development that happens when siblings share bedrooms, and this character effects their whole life.  Children learn selflessness when they have to focus on others' needs and not just their own; generosity when they share their space, their things, and their time; they learn to serve one another when someone has a need - especially if they have bunk beds and cannot get down easily *chuckle*; responsibility is developed when they need to keep their space clean and organized for another's sake and not just their own; self-control when they want to do something or say something to a sibling, but have come to love that person in their vulnerability of sleep - and know that a parent can help reinforce that child's ability to exercise self-control if necessary; they learn tolerance for another's breathing sounds and giggling and when that sibling is sick; they learn loyalty to siblings in a special way; sensitivity; flexibility; and compassion. Of course this character takes years to develop, and I wish the fruit were consistent and once-learned-always-applied, but that's just not real life with children.  But when they do learn it it will not only bless the family but will bless their spouse one day as well.

Other benefits include the special bonding that children can have when sharing bedrooms.  They have special conversations before falling asleep, even when they may not have been the best of friends all day long prior to that.  They connect by sharing a room in special ways that they just don't have otherwise.  

Our twin baby girls also have the sweetest times at night before falling asleep.  And we didn't even know they did these things until we added them to the girls room at about 9-months-old and the older girls would then tell us about the twins.  The twins would stand in their adjacent cribs and suck each other's fingers (like thumbs) and feel each other's ears.  *laugh*  They would squat down and spring up again playing peek-a-boo.  They would help each other get out of their pajamas in the funniest ways!  We had put their blanket sleepers (footed pj's) on backwards to prevent them from taking them off, but they figured out a way.  One would turn around with her back to sister, sister would unzip her pj's for her, and then that baby would bend over and touch her toes causing the zipper to zoom down her back and get undone.  *laugh*  We had to stop this by adding diaper pins to the tops of their pj's so they wouldn't get cold, but on my gosh it was cute.  Sharing a bedroom can be so, so sweet.


Setting up the bedrooms
We have a 4 bedroom house (click here for a tour of our whole house).  One of the bedrooms we use for a toys and computers room, then there is the master bedroom, and the two children's bedrooms:  a girls room and a boys room.  *smile*  First I'll show you our girl's bedroom set up.

GIRLS:

Our five daughters, ages 14, 13, 6, and almost-2-year-old twins share the girls room currently.  The twin baby girls each have a mini-crib in the girl's room.  They slept together in a full-size crib when they were immobile infants, but when they became mobile they needed to be able to get away from each other and sleep undisturbed.  *chuckle*  I used to have their cribs touching so that they could still be close to each other, and listen to each other breathe at night, and play cutie-pie quiet little games at night before falling asleep.  But then they started climbing in to each other's cribs so I've moved the cribs apart a little bit now to try to help them sleep better.


The curtain in the girls' room has been attached up high by the cribs temporarily so that the babies cannot pull it down.  The 6-year-old's jewelry box on the window sill is kept out of their reach as well.  There is a fan on the window sill which they use to not only circulate the air flow in their bedroom at night, but it also makes a great "white noise" which helps them sleep better.  When the twins are about 2 1/2-years-old we plan to take down the mini cribs and add another bunk bed to the girls room instead (up against the window, perpendicular to the existing bunk bed; the white shelf unit will stay where it is).  They won't fit in these mini cribs quite as long as they would in two full-size cribs, but we've moved children as young as 18-months-old in to twin beds a few times before with success, so it'll be fine.


Our oldest daughters (13 and 14-years-old) sleep on the bunk beds currently, and our 6-year-old daughter sleeps on the trundle bed which pulls out from underneath the bunk bed at night.  (see next photo below)



To add a little of their own personalities to their beds, my mom has sewn each of the children their own cutely-patterned with polka-dots, stripes, and plaids flannel pillow cases, which are kept underneath their comforters and decorative pillows.  So at a glance the room decor matches; but when they get into bed to sleep their brightly-colored pillow cases come out.  *chuckle*  They love these.


BOYS

Our four sons, ages 9, 5, 3, and 2-years-old share the boy's room currently.  The oldest two boys have the top bunks and the youngest two the bottom bunks.  Yes, the bunks are close together which means, yes, we did have a problem initially with the biggest boys jumping between the two top bunks.  But this acquired some swift consequences and it no longer a problem.  *chuckle*  The 2-year-old has only climbed up a couple of times (although is not allowed technically to do so) and it is not a problem.  The 3-year-old does not climb up at night but does climb up once-in-a-while during play time in his bedroom, but we try to discourage that as much as possible as well.  But we cannot worry about it too much.  This is the space the Lord has given to us, so we do the best we can with it, and we try to be faithful in training them to be safe.  The boys love it, and really it's working just beautifully.  *smile*


All of the toys (except these stuffed animals on the wicker shelf, and some of the girls-only toys in their closet) are kept upstairs in the play room, so this really helps the rooms to not be crowded or cluttered, and really helps the children stay in their beds at night (both boys and girls).




 

What about all their stuff? 
So I'm sure you're asking, "But what about all the kids stuff??"  *smile*  Well like I mentioned above, almost all of the toys are kept up stairs in the playroom.  All of the children's clothing is kept in our one main children's clothing closet, so not having dressers in their bedrooms also frees up a huge amount of space.  Their closets store some of their personal things, and each of the 5 oldest kids has their own personal-stuff box where they can keep their own special things.  

GIRLS:

Here's the girl's bedroom closet.  Now they do have some toys in their closet that are girls-only toys because they're breakable (and uninteresting) for the boys.  These are things such as tiny dolls and big dolls, china tea sets, and some Briar horse stalls that go with the horses and their supplies in the plastic drawers I'll show you.  Also their clothes hamper.

 

And this closet is locked during the 2-year-old girls room play time so that they have access only to the toys that that are given to them to play with but without having full access to this closet.  This enables the little girls to play safely and "managably" by themselves here during part of our homeschool morning.  I bought this awesome bi-fold door lock off of Amazon for $3.88.  It's a clear plastic piece that fits over the top of the door, and slides over the crack in the door when we lock it, preventing it from pulling open.


Here is where the girls keep their personal, special things.  The oldest girls each have a drawer, and the 6-year-old uses the pretty hat box on top of the drawers.  The rest of the drawers have Briar horses, My Little Pony's, and some knitting and crocheting supplies in them - all of which the boys do not need access to.  I'm currently looking for some clips to put through the top of each drawer and fasten to the front of the pull-out part so that the little girls can't get in to these either during their play-alone time here.  My husband offered to just drill some holes through the top and front of each drawer to fit the clips.


And the girls have a few items such as alarm clocks resting on the head board of their bed, or a book tucked in beside their bed.  Night stands would be nice some day, but we don't have room for them currently so we make do.  *smile*

BOYS:

Here is the boy's bedroom closet.  In here I keep extra backpacks and bags, the boy's hats, their money banks, an extra sheet and wet mat for when someone wakes up with a wet bed I can change it quickly and easily in the morning, all the extra packages of baby wipes from Costco, and their clothes hamper


There side you can also see the extra hangers that I'm not using (I should just put them away I guess, but they fit here okay so I've just left them), and a CD player the boys have used for an audio book or music sometimes when having play-alone time in this room.  There also their sweatshirts, the toy basket that the 2 and 3-year-olds use when they have some play time in their room during our homeschool morning, and below that is a large plastic tub containing all of the kids varying sizes of underwear, training pants and rubber pants.  (I was forever trying to remember where I put the next size up underwear that I needed for a child, which I had been keeping with their boxes of currently-unused clothes in the garage.  Finally I pulled all of the underwear from the boxes and put it all in to one place so I can easily get what I need, and avoid re-purchasing items I already have but couldn't find.)


And at night the closet door is locked closed so that the three youngest brothers are not tempted to go exploring through the other's personal things, especially those belonging to the oldest son who's things are a prize for the youngest ones to explore through. *wink*  After trying a few different door locks for sliding doors we finally found that we prefer a home-made lock that my husband came up with.  He simply drilled a hole through the two doors right in the top center where they over lap, and then put a very long nail through the two doors so they can't be slid open.  When we desire to get into the closet we simply slide the nail out a ways, and then push it back in again when we're done.






Going to sleep
All of our children need pretty much the same amount of sleep at night, about 10 1/2 hours, with a couple of exceptions that are easy to work with.  So they all go to bed at the same time of night which is currently 9:00 pm, and then I get them up at 7:30 in the morning, with the exception of our 13 and 14-year-old daughters who need less sleep and so get up at 6:00 or 6:30 by their choice to shower, read their Bibles, and begin their morning jobs.  


We do not allow any of the children to stay up late at night if they need less sleep, but instead they are free to get up as early as they'd like in order to get the amount of sleep that they need.  At night my husband and I need to be "off duty" at a certain time, and night time is generally unproductive time for the children anyway, so they all go to bed at the same time.  In the morning they are required to get right in to their responsibilities and then school work, and if they finish those early then they have extra free time more than usual; but we do not allow them to get up and read or play first and then hope to still get all their responsibilities done in the day.  They need to learn good disciplines for their life, so responsibilities always come first.  If they are not diligent in doing their school, etc., then they waste their free time in the day, rather than taking the free time first and possibly not finishing their school work.

There is also one more exception to the general sleep routine for the kids.  We have a 3-year-old who needs only 8 1/2 hours of sleep at night in order to still need a 2-hour nap in the afternoon (which he needs to feel his best the rest of the evening, and mommy needs him to have as well *wink*).  So 8 of the children go to sleep at 9am but the 3-year-old stays up with daddy and plays quietly on the family room floor until 10:30 pm.  Then we wake him early at 7:00 am before the rest of the kids are up, and he plays quietly in the playroom until everyone else gets up.  This is the second 3-year-old we've had who needed less sleep for his 3-year-old year (which is also the age when most children begin not wanting to take naps any more, but we have them nap through age 5), and then after that needed more sleep again and went back to sleeping the same hours as the rest of the children.


A key to helping children be successful with their night time sleep is to make sure they are not overly tired (not getting enough sleep), or under-tired (getting too much sleep, or time in bed).  We do not expect the kids to be in bed longer than they need which leads to disobedience.  We strive to put them to bed when they're really tired so that they'll just go to sleep.  Sometimes children may not need quite 10 1/2 hours of sleep at night, or some nights they may need more sleep than usual, so to simplify we stick with the general average of 10 1/2 hours every night and they do really well.  (Of course if someone is sick or has an unusual need for extra sleep than we encourage or require them to go to bed early.)



When we put the children all to bed we tell them that they must stay lying down, and they generally obey these directions.  We discourage talking, but the oldest kids usually whisper for 20-30 minutes before falling asleep.  We've found that if they're lying down then they realize how tired they are sooner than if they're remaining stimulated by sitting up.  And the bedrooms are small enough that the older ones can whisper without disturbing the younger ones who fall asleep very quickly (again, having made sure that they're really tired when we put them to bed).  

If children are having a difficult time going to sleep after this little while of "grace time" then daddy goes down and reminds them to stop talking now.  In the case of the boy's room with their bunk beds so close together and side-by-side one another, sometimes I'll have the boys position their decorative pillow (not the one they sleep on, but their other decorative one that goes on top of their bed when it's made) standing up on it's side against the side rail of the bunk bed as a barrier so that they cannot see one another.  This almost always helps them go to sleep.  If not, then daddy has to go down to use some parental authority to help "motivate" them to control themselves and stop talking.  *chuckle*  *wink*

Recently we've had the struggle of our little twin baby girl muffins wanting to climb in to one another's cribs at night.  *chuckle*  Cutie pies.  But they need their sleep so we have to give some consequences and then put them back in to their own beds.  (They used to sleep together as babies, but when they became mobile they needed to be able to get alone and get to sleep.)  So for a while we separated their beds a ways so that they couldn't climb between them easily.  This worked for a few months until they learned to span that gap and still get to the other's cribs, however sometimes one would fall out and get a bump or a bruise.  So we actually put the cribs close together again to prevent them from falling.  We still expect them to stay in their own beds, and give consequences if they disobey, but at least they don't get hurt from falling if they disobey.  In a few months with this year's tax returns we'll be getting the girls another bunk bed for their room and so Lacey & Lilly will be on twin beds by 2 1/2-years-old and the falling out won't be a risk any longer.  Of course, staying in bed will be a new discipline - but they all need to get there some day.  *shrug* *smile*


Nap times
We were taught, and have found it to be true, that it's very good for children to nap through age 5.  At age 5 children are often then learning to read books and can occupy themselves for a quiet time every day.  So each of our children at about age 3 has started balking at naps, but we persevere through that hurdle, even cutting back on their night time sleep if necessary for a while, and eventually they settle right back in to napping well until or through age 5.  We do not have children share bedrooms, however, during nap time.

Nap time sleep is not as deep and solid as night time sleep is when they're ready to settle in for a nice long 10 1/2 hours, and as a result we've never had kids nap in the same room together successfully.  So I currently have our 2-year-old nap in his bed in the boy's room.  The 3-year-old little son sleeps up in our bedroom walk-in closet that has a full-size crib in it and even a crib tent over the top of it to help him stay there and sleep.  (Crib tents have been recalled - for dumb reasons in our mind - but none the less they're no longer sold.)  He needs that sleep, but if he can get out of bed and explore instead then he'll do that.  If he knows he can't get out then he lays right down and goes to sleep.  So he's in his big boy bed at night, but naps in the crib tent in the afternoon.  The twin baby girls actually do sleep in their adjacent cribs for naps, but that's a unique situation with twins.  They've always slept together and they do great that way.  When they have twin beds in a few months I'm not sure we'll be able to stick with that plan of them being in the same room, but for now they are.  When we had more children napping than just these 4, we've had one little son (who needed total accountability) sleep on a blanket in the family room while I worked on the computer or in the kitchen near him.  If I was right there then he's go to sleep.  And the older kids all have what we call play-alone time during the younger children's naps.

During this time the older ones each choose an independent activity to do quietly by themselves for that 2 hour nap time.  They usually listen to a disc player with an audio book or music to help them be in their own little world even though we're all sharing the family room or other rooms.  We try to not have talking during this nice time of day.  Everyone enjoys it being quiet for a while, and we feel renewed and refreshed having had a little time without anyone interrupting our thoughts or kids taking each other's toys.  The kids usually each take a room to play in - the play room, the master bedroom, the family room, dining room table, or our carpeted, well-lit garage (with a space heater if necessary).  I do allow the boys to make "mouth noises" while they play with their castles and knights or cars and trucks, but if they're alone then they're pretty quiet still.  Some times I let the 9 and 5-year-old boys play together and they do pretty well, but the 6-year-old sister needs a break from their boy-ish ways and she plays alone as 13 and 14-year-old sisters do.


Ages of children and how that plays in
Here are answers to a few specific questions I've been asked regarding children's ages and sleeping arrangements.

At what age do we add babies to the girls or boys rooms?
We teach our babies to sleep through the night by 3 months of age, and up until this time we have the baby sleep in a crib in the walk-in closet in our room, close by to us, helping them eat at night and learn to sleep longer.  After this time we keep baby with us still until about age 1 when the child is old enough to push a blanket off of themselves (instead of suffocating) should a sibling throw one into the crib with an effort to keep baby warm.  *wink*  At this time we feel baby is safe sleeping with his or her brothers or sisters.

Is there a point at which an older child needs their own room?
Not in our opinion.  *smile*  From what we've seen in other families and have read ourselves (and of course this is just a generality; there are always exceptions), giving older children their own room only fosters me-myself-and-I, encourages that older child to shut out the rest of the family and focus on their self too much, divides the once-close relationships with siblings, and facilitates independence rather than interdependence, which the Lord designed us for.  (Not in a co-dependent way, mind you, but in a close, depending upon one another and doing life together kind of way.)

What if there is a large age difference between siblings?
Doesn't matter.  Young people just seem to get older and more appreciative of the sweetness of babies and little ones.  *smile*  They become better and better nurturers, which in my mind should be encouraged to only continue until they are nurturing their own babies.



Do we have boys and girls together in rooms?  
No we don't have any currently as it has worked out in such a way that we haven't needed to.  But we have friends who have 2 bedrooms for kids and they have 6 kids:  one 12-year-old son and five girls.  So they have that son sharing with some sisters.  No big deal.  They just change their clothes in the bathroom and practice modesty very nicely.  

Some other friends of ours have 10 children and more bedrooms for them.  One of the bedrooms happens to be tiny (closet sized almost) and only fits one person, so their oldest 18-year-old daughter has her own room and it works beautifully for them.  That daughter has her heart totally connected with the family and younger siblings and she is very generous and others-focused (while still able to develop her own skills and interests).  

So the bottom line is - I think it's best to have only girls with girls and boys with boys as much as possible.  But the Lord chose the genders of our children, and He knows the size of our homes, and He is very capable of making things work beautifully no matter what situation we have. 


Who should clean the room?
We require each person to be responsible for their own bed and their own things.  They each make their own bed every day, keep their own clothes picked up, and keep their own things put away where they belong.  They're often inclined to set things down where they don't belong, on the window sill, on book shelves, or on the drawers in their room, but with 9 kids doing that the house would quickly become very cluttered so I don't allow it.  When I find things laying around or stacked placed where they don't belong, I call them and have them put the items away.  Especially dirty laundry.  I can't stand laundry all over the house.  It all goes in the hamper and in my mind there is no reason to have it anywhere else except out of laziness and not being considerate of other people's space.  We all share the bedrooms and the house, so if people leave stuff lying around then they are not being considerate of others.  So, with these plans the house generally stays picked up and no one is stuck with cleaning up piles of other people's things that they left lying around  *smile*  Works for us.


Handling sickness
Generally we still have kids sleep in their beds when they're sick, even when they share bedrooms and therefore germs while they breathe at night.  Everyone sleeps their best in their own bed, and when someone is sick they need good sleep.  The exception of sleeping in their own bed is if one of the older children has the stomach flu and they desire to sleep in the bathroom on a blanket on the floor so that they can be close to potentially-needed facilities which they're almost guaranteed to need.  But if they're mostly past the throwing-up-often stage then we let them stay in their own bed with a dish tub on a towel at the foot of their bed if they need it.  I can't be worrying about people sharing germs with 11 people sharing a 1100 square foot home.  *smile*  That's just not practical.  And I'm not wanting to have little ones especially be quarantined from their family when they're sick; they're just not olde enough to understand that and would feel so rejected.  So we just do our normal things when people are sick and pray that they don't all get it.  We give kids Emergen-C drink mix to boost their immune systems, we don't have any sugar (which feeds a virus and makes it worse and lowers immune systems), and we eat well and get lots of rest, and that's the best we can do so we rest in that.  And it works fine.



What about handling different personalities? 
Of course sharing bedrooms isn't always sweetness and bonding.  *laugh* To develop that character I mentioned earlier takes intentionality in our parenting and training.  We need to take on this issue of enabling children to share bedrooms - ON PURPOSE.  *smile*  We need to ask the Lord what His plan is for our families.  How would He have us best proceed.  

We should not determine whether or not to allow the Lord to give us more children based upon the size of our house or how many bedrooms we have for children; we need to let Him have lordship, and then let Him show us how to best proceed.  *smile*  Not whether or not we obey; but how we obey Him well.


Having children share bedrooms can have so many blessings that can come as a result!  *smile*  And we would encourage parents to take on the challenge proactively - ON PURPOSE.  Proactively, not re-actively.  Decide on a the best room arrangement and then make it happen.  Eliminate any obstacles that you come across; don't let things - such as toys or clothes or number of beds - rob the children of the blessing of really bonding together and developing life-long character.  If toys are a problem, get them out of the bedrooms or put them in the closets.  If clothes are problem, probably first clean-out some clothes *wink* and then find a good way to store what you have either in the bedroom or outside the bedroom!  Think outside the box.  Establish a good sleep schedule and then stick with the plan, so everyone can get the amount of sleep that they need, and sleep well while sharing the space.  Encourage children of all ages to bond.  Encourage each child to be responsible for their bed, their clothes, their things, to be respectful to the others in the room and to learn to be orderly.  With children's personalities they should not be allowed to have the mindset, "This is the way I am, so deal with it", but rather, "This aspect of my character seems pretty rough...Lord, please help me to become more gracious and empathetic with others."  

We believe that parents should not let children decide whether or not they share a bedroom.  Children don't know what's best for them; parents do.  It may seem harder to a child at first to share a bedroom with siblings (in fact, it may seem harder to the parent's, too!) - but it's better in the long run.  You can do it.  *smile*  


Blessings on your home,

Recommended resources:
Website (and blog):  TheWellRestedFamily.com
Book:  Sleep Tight Every Night, by Malia Jacobson, author of The Well Rested Family 

You might also enjoy reading my posts:

32 comments:

  1. Just a suggestion to replace nightstands: we used a "towel" bar/hanging basket combo from IKEA for our girls bunkbeds. The rod fit two baskets, one for their water (with a lid), and one for some books. We screwed these onto the wall near their heads. We also added a wall lamp for each girl. This allowed the overhead light to be turned off, and for each girl to read before lights out.

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    1. This is an old post, but wow what a great idea Joy. We were going to just do shelves for our bunk beds but then I worry about things being knocked over with our restless sleepers. hanging baskets would keep things contained. I bet I could even use a cheapo rod from walmart and then DIY sew some hanging basket/baggies. Thanks :)

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  2. Love this post! Thank you for writing in such a thoughtful manner. :D

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  3. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this! Right now I have 4 children in one room - a 6yo boy, 4yo girl, 3yo boy and 2yo girl (and we have a newborn with us in our room). I know there will come a time when our oldest two, being different genders, will be in separate rooms but honestly - tonight the 6yo and 4yo are both snuggled together on their top bunk (bottom is now empty) - they whisper and giggle and then drift off to sleep - and it is just so sweet! The 3yo falls asleep easily in his own toddler bed. Our 2yo is a bit higher needs and we cuddle her then do a "transfer" ;) Trying to get her used to a shorter cuddle and just being "sleepy" and not fully asleep before transferring her to her bed, since I now have a newborn to care for as well. My husband and I JUST went through toys and clothes and we're trying to get everything organized so our home stays more peaceful. Already feels better. I'm just so glad to see other families who have multiple children sharing (a) room(s) and make it work out well and see it as a benefit and character building opportunity rather than a negative thing.

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  4. I enjoyed reading your post. Thank you. We have a 3 bedroom home and 8 children. We also have a "Girl" room and a "Boy" room. 3 girls (5, 6, & 9) and 5 boys (1, 3, 10, 14, & 16.) The girls have a loft / bunk bed set. The boys have the same, but my husband added a bed under the loft bed - making it 2 sets of bunk beds attached and a crib. The trundles are actually big drawers for their "stuff." Closets are the hardest - they are somewhat organized to fit their clothes. I love hearing others' ideas on organizing everything. Thanks! :)

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  5. We also have a boys room and a girls room. We have seven children (but only 6 have lived here at one time...our oldest daughter was married and a mom by the time our 7th arrived). We currently have two girls ages 24 and 13 sharing a room and four boys ages 20, 16, 8 and 3 in another room. Our 24yod is getting married next week (!), so we will have one daughter in that room. I may move some of the younger boys clothing over to the girls room to allow the boys some more space. The little boys generally wind up sleeping in the girls room almost every night...snuggling with big sisters.

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  6. Hi! I struggle with setting up Good sleeping patterns for my babies. I end up burnt out because naps just never happen. I let them go to sleep too late so wake too late then not want a nap. Is there a specific book you read to help give you ideas on Sleep training or was it just the above suggested website? Thanks for any info you can give. Emily

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    1. Caden, Here is my post on how we teach babies to sleep through the night. =)

      http://www.largefamiliesonpurpose.com/2011/02/large-family-organization-scheduling.html

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  7. My girls have baskets that I have securely tied onto the bunk bed frame (It hang on the outside so not to get in the way) so they can keep books, tissues etc near by. We also tied a basket onto the cot so that my 2 year old has a few toys nearby as she often wakes up a bit earlier. If she has toys then she will play happily for a while.

    Thanks for posting. I too get strange looks/comments when they find out that our 4 girls share just ONE room. :-)

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  8. Even when we had extra bedrooms (5 bedroom house), we still had all our children in one small room. Two bunk beds, brothers on top, sisters on the bottom-it was so neat. A parent could snuggle up on a bottom bunk and tell a story or the older kids would tell stories to the younger ones. One night, two naughty children were sent to bed early. We found them snuggled up in one bed because they were so lonely with just the two of them. Now the boys and girls are separated, but those first few years were so so sweet.

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  9. We have 5 children, ages 16 (girl) to 5 girl in one room. The 2 boys, ages 7 & 6 look forward to being in their older brother's room when we have time to build bunk beds and rearrange. Our 2 year old cannot wait to be in the big kids' room, but is patiently waiting for her baby brother to move out of Mama & Daddy's room. In the mean time, she enjoys being in a closet size room right next to ours. We love that they don't even "think" about having a room of their own. They've been known to climb in and snuggle with siblings and leave beds empty or make a tent and all sleep on thw floor. Precious! Thanks for the encouragement!

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  10. Needed to see this today! We just moved and we have 3 bedrooms (boys, girls and master) upstairs and one downstairs. The room downstairs needs work, but that will only happen as we have the money. In the meantime I am trying to deal with those well meaning people who insist that our oldest daughter (13) needs her own room. I'm also trying to figure out how best to provide storage for personal belongings that little ones want to get in to. Thanks for the ideas!

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  11. I guess it's all relative. My mom grew up sharing a full size bed with her 2 sisters. She was grateful to not have to sleep on the floor. There is a way in which sharing a room doens't seem like such a big deal. But I will confess that I felt sad for my 2 older sons when my younger son was born and the best option was for the 2 youngest boys to share. It's been several years and they love it. So all's well that ends well I guess.

    I have a question though, what about alone time. Do the kids ever have the option of having a little quite time alone away from everyone? How does that work in your house?

    I only have 3 children and I find myself sneaking off to my husband's man cave just for a little peace and quiet once in a while.

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    1. Oh yes, we definitely do alone time every day, for 2 hours. During the youngest kids naps the oldest 5 choose a quiet, alone space to be in with their own activity. And usually a disc player with an audio book or music to help them not talk to each other but to just be "alone" even if they maybe sharing a space with someone else technically. And I have alone time, too, in the family room usually with another person or two, but the oldest daughter is usually baking in the kitchen or at the kitchen table, and the younger daughter (doesn't work as well with sons yet LOL) is playing quietly in the family room beside me. But we have a no talking policy. *chuckle* If the boys need to just play and talk then they stay in the play room together and the rest of us have "alone time."

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  12. I SO needed this post! I have really been feeling like we are outgrowing our house, but I realize the problem is STUFF, not the number of people in the house.

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  13. Thank you for this. We have a 4 bedroom house with 4 little kids. This helped me out so much. I really appreciate this.

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  14. We have always shared bedrooms too. When we had 3 bdrms, we put our 2 girls in one room. Now we have 4 bdrms and 8 kids. We have a boy room, a girl room, and a baby room. I'm not ready to put the baby in with the big kids. But we don't have a playroom as a result.
    Look up tutorials for a book sling. You can put one on the wall above each bed instead of a nightstand.

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  15. LOVE your blog! Thank you for taking time to share your wonderful ideas!
    Instead of a nightstand we use 3' pieces of raingutter attached to the studs in the wall (google for lots of pictures) and bed lamps (Ikea)also attached to the walls. Works well for the top or bottom bunk and doesn't take any floor space. The kids put books, kleenex, waterbottles, etc. in the raingutters.

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  16. We moved to a larger home. In our other home we had more bedrooms but the boys all shared and we have only one girl. But then we caved and gave all 4 kids their own room. I hate it but it is what my husband and I decided together. We now have 4 bedrooms and our 2 youngest have to share a room. They have a hard time falling asleep which is why we put them in their own rooms to begain with. We are expecting our 5th and not sure where we will put the baby when born and not knowing if we are having a boy or girl. My daughter is scared that she will have to share a room. She is 14 and will be 15 when the baby is born and she has never had to share a room so it may be an adjustment if we have a girl. If we have a boy we will be bunking up boys 2 and 2. But that will be a long time away if Lord willing we are able to have this baby.

    I do love your blog I wish we were able to have more children but this will be our last I ahve had 4 c-section and 4 Misscarrages and my uterus is full of adhesions and they are pretty sure I will have to have it removed during this 5th c-section. But praying for Gods healing hands and all will be okay and the Lord will bless us with more children.

    God bless you and your family,
    Jen

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  17. HI Erika
    Thanks for another great post! I have always shared a room (from sharing with my sister to my hubby ) & we love the fact that our children share as well (in fact we fully intend for them to continue while they live with us ~ well unless Ellie stays the only girl, but we are praying...). At the moment our twins share & our oldest son shares with our daughter. We usually have the boys in together, but Zai felt sorry for Ellie so we are allowing them to share at the moment. Have to say that when we did move our eldest (Zai) in with the twin boys the twins began to sleep better & when we asked why they said they weren't scared anymore because Zai was now in the room (smile). Love it! Now they are older & night terrors aren't a problem ( praise God!) Anyway just want you to know that I always appreciate your posts ~ they make me think ( in a good way)!
    Blessings
    Renata:)

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  18. Loved the story about the twins relating with each other at bedtime, so sweet!
    I have been enjoying your blog, which I found accidentally after meeting you at last year's Christian Heritage Conference. Many blessings to you and your family, perhaps we will see you again.
    Julanne

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  19. Well put Erika. When I was small I shared a room with an older and younger brother. Then when my parents had more children later on, I had a room to myself. I remember feeling left out. Didn't get my sister til I was 13. Currently I have my 6 year old boy, 4 and 2 year old girls all in the same room. We live in a two bedroom house. Gonna get mighty crowded in there when my baby girl is old enough to move in with them.

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  20. Thank you for sharing all of these great ideas. I am sure I will be referring back to your site often!

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  21. Wow. I'm curious as to how your older daughters feel about the lack of privacy. Teen years can be so rough, and personal privacy is something most teens value and appreciate (whether they express it or not).

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    1. She's fine. =) She changes her clothes in the bathroom or in the bedroom by herself real quickly. They really only sleep in their bedroom. We encourage the family to be together around the house, not hiding off by themselves in their own little world.

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  22. Im glad I read this! We've got a two year old girl and 3 month old baby girl in a two bed house. I have a crib and twin bed in their room, but the baby doesn't sleep in there, Im afraid her two year old sister might throw a blanket on her or something...and she wakes up a couple times a night to nurse, I don't want her to wake her older sister. We had to take her out of our bedroom at night because we go to bed after her and always seem to wake her. She's a super light sleeper, so right now I have a pack n play bed in the bathroom just for night time. I feel ridiculous but its the only other room with a closed door for her to sleep in peace. I guess you do what you have to. Ive been praying for a solution and I guess this is what we'll do till shes old enough to share with the two year old sister...

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  23. I am so glad I found this! I have been struggling with deciding whether to have number 4 in a 3 bedroom house. With the economy the way it is we haven't been able to sell our home. I've heard from a family member that it's wrong to make your children share a room. We have 2 boys sharing and our daughter is in her own. It's like God directed me to your blog! Thank you sooo much for sharing.

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  24. Holy crap. How about some birth control instead.

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  25. How about controlling your negativity. If large families aren't your thing why did you come here and read the blog.

    Large families produce some of the most successful well rounded adults in the world. Living in a large family promotes acceptance of individual thought and differences, social skills, life skills, and the ability to function successfully as an adult. Large families are some of the most peaceful homes. Children are respectful, intelligent, and well behaved because they learn these skills naturally through their environment. They cook, clean, organize, solve problems, and understand how to interact with others. They learn to be adaptable, how to manage time and money, and stress.

    Before someone suggest birth control perhaps they should look a little deeper into knowing the facts.

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  26. Birth control is being used. By God. You seem like a great mom Erika .

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  27. Crib tents were recalled because babies DIED when they failed! Do you want that for your children? Babies dying is not a stupid reason for a recall.

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    1. My point was that if the tent was installed correctly it would be impossible for it to fail as they claimed it did.

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