Figuring out the best sleeping arrangement for your family can be the difference between waking up to a household of grumps and seeing smiles at the breakfast table. And just like decisions about co-sleeping, sleep training, and choosing a bedtime is unique to each family, deciding whether or not to have kids share a room is a matter of both practicality and personal preference. There is no right or wrong answer, but there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re issuing room assignments.
Just because you have extra rooms doesn’t mean that you need to turn them into multiple kids’ rooms. For example, a second bedroom could make a fun play space if the kids bunk up. But if you don’t have the space, and moving isn’t an option you want to pursue, the question isn’t whether to have your kids share a room, but how to make it work. Kids are surprisingly adaptable to sleeping through noises (including a sibling’s full-out cries), but if your baby’s loud breathing is keeping your toddler up, a sound conditioner may help. And you might be surprised to find that sleeping in the same room provides comfort and companionship—which helps some kids sleep more soundly, not less.
One- and two-year-olds generally need about 12 to 14 hours of sleep, while preschoolers need about 10 to 13. The big difference can come with naps, which generally disappear by age five. If your children have the same bedtime, reading books together and tucking them in together can become a magical family routine. But if your non-napping preschooler needs to turn in earlier, you could do baby’s bedtime routine in the living room before quietly tucking her in.
Believe it or not, some kids prefer having a roommate. If it feels like an invasion of space—especially for a child who was previously used to sleeping solo, finding ways to devise personal space and boundaries can help everyone to feel at home. For example, give each child a space (like their bed) that is invite-only.
Plenty of boy-girl siblings room together right into elementary school. But not many do in high school. Some experts recommend finding solo digs by age six, while others say it’s fine for opposite sex siblings to room together right up until the pre-teen years. Either way, privacy issues are inevitable, so be prepared to handle them when they arise, so each child feels comfortable in his or her home.