This is the first week of summer and instead of relaxing, we’ve been moving kid’s bedrooms around. We moved both girls, ages 2 and 4, into the same room and turned the other bedroom into their playroom. As part of this process we’ve also put our 2 year old in a regular twin bed (same thing we did with our oldest) and dismantled the crib.
We’ve been considering this move for a while and it definitely wasn’t made spur of the moment. In fact, we’ve gone back and forth on it several times.
One of the reasons we purchased our current house was because it offered enough space for both kids to have their own rooms while still keeping one room for guests and a dedicated office for my husband. So space wasn’t an issue in our decision, but what were our reasons?
Here’s our thinking…
Reason #1: Build a Strong Relationship
Remember when you and your friends, or maybe you and your spouse, would lay on the bed at night and talk about nothing or everything? Those were the times that you got to know each other better. You shared ideas, feelings, or crazy dreams. As you shared more about yourselves you got to know each other better. You developed a deeper more meaningful relationship.
Not to be morbid, but when my husband and I are no longer here, our girls won’t have a whole lot of family to turn to, since our extended family is very small. That said, they will have each other. My hope is that during these next several years they will make memories together, laugh, cry, act silly, and grow to be each other’s best friend and confidant.
By sharing a room, they’ll have that dedicated time to be together and develop that special relationship. I pray they carry it with them throughout their lives.
Reason #2: Learn to Negotiate and Compromise
There’s one word over my years in early childhood education that I have grown to dislike greatly. That word is SHARE. The reason is that most parents and educators teach children that sharing means to give up something you are playing with because someone else wants it, cries about it, or takes it. In my world view, that’s not sharing…that’s caving.
Instead, we teach our girls to ask for things they want using kind and caring words. Then the other child is welcome to hand over the item or to say, “You can play with it next, when I’m done.” Now that doesn’t mean that the child asking won’t pitch a fit, but that’s a life lesson unto itself- “You don’t get everything you want and sometimes you have to be patient.” And it’s a life lesson to set boundaries and not let others walk all over you too.
Inevitably, while the girls share a room they will have ample opportunity to negotiate and compromise on everything from clothes, to stuffed animals, to hanging pictures, to putting books on the shelf. I think those are valuable skills that all kids need to experiment with and learn how to do, without adult interference.
Reason #3: Empathy and Compassion
In the parenting classes I facilitate one of the things we talk about is the lack of empathy and compassion in today’s society. This may initially seem contradictory to Reason #2 above, but I don’t believe that it is.
In this world you will have to negotiate and compromise, but those who are truly successful at these things are able to do so with empathy and compassion. They are able to see the world from someone else’s viewpoint. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
While the girl’s share a room, there will be times when one or both are anxious, sad, hurt, angry, or embarrassed about things happening in their lives. What a great opportunity to learn how to listen empathetically and compassionately, or maybe offer advice or assistance.
If the girls are in separate rooms I think it’s very easy for them to brush the other person’s feelings off to the side or not acknowledge them at all. It’s my hope that together they can learn from and with each other how to care for others.
So there you have it. For better or worse, the girls are sharing a room for at least the next year.
I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going…but so far, we’re on day 3 and they’re loving it. Here’s hoping this isn’t just the honeymoon period. 🙂 Fingers crossed…
They are already working on all the reasons I listed above. Tonight they had a sing-a-long. They sang Old MacDonald and took turns naming animals for the song. That was followed by Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Wheels on the Bus. This mama’s heart was happy and content.