When Siblings Share a Tiny Room

sisters share a bedroom

It has always been important to us, as part of our decision to live in a small home with two children, to make sure they each have their own space. We want our daughters to know that we respect them and their need for privacy and boundaries, especially as they get older. We also want them to feel ownership over their own belongings, though we do encourage them to share.

Obviously there are limits to this goal, the primary one being that we don't have enough space in our home to give them their own rooms. This isn't something that we spend much time worrying about, though. Having a room to oneself, especially as a child, has rarely been the norm for people across the world throughout the ages, and there are benefits to room sharing.

Nonetheless, our goal is to give our children autonomy and room to grow, even in a tiny house, and to that end there are things that we have done to ensure their needs for space and privacy and individual ownership are being met as much as possible.

They each have their own drawers in the closet.

Even as they get to an age where they can often both fit into the same clothes, we still keep their clothing items separate, and I often will put Sunshine's outgrown clothing out of the way for a period of time rather than moving it straight to her sister's drawer. I don't want Sunshine to always feel like her favorite things are being taken from her and given to her sister, and I also want Sweetheart gets the experience of having "new" clothes that no one has seen for a while, even if most of her wardrobe does consist of hand-me-downs. If the girls want to share clothes, that is up to them. It's not unusual to find them both wearing Sunshine's clothes just so they can both wear a dog shirt at the same time, for example, since Sunshine has two and Sweetheart doesn't have any right now, and I think it's sweet when they choose to share like that.

They each have their own bunk.

The biggest source of their own space is, of course, their bunks. When we redesigned the girls' bedroom last year, we attempted to give each child ownership of her own sleeping area, as much as is possible. We hung shelves and lamps on the walls and installed power strips to give them their own places to plug in electronics. They each keep a small case on their bed to house their jewelry and small toys. Sunshine has a locking cabinet where she keeps some of her most precious items so Sweetheart can't get to them, and each girl has a IKEA shelf to hold a few of their own favorite books. Our long-term goal is for each of the girls to need permission to be on her sister's bunk, but they seem happy to have company most of the time these days.

They have lockers.

When Sweetheart was still a baby, Sunshine's pediatrician recommended that we find a safe place for Sunshine to keep things that weren't baby-safe. It sounded like good advice, so we set aside a spare cabinet in the kitchen for her to keep her special things. As time has passed, we realized the need for Sweetheart to have her own special cupboard, too, so we decided to purchase these lockers for our dining room. Each girl has two lockers in which to keep her art projects and school supplies and some keepsakes. We used to have a chest of drawers in that space to hold all of our cloth diaper supplies, so it was an easy transition to make as our family outgrew that particular need.

Plans for the future

Right now we have a custom-designed toy storage unit in the girls' bedroom, but someday I plan to switch that out for a double vanity as the girls' interests evolve and change. I hope that we still have a lot of years of play left, but I know that these girls will one day leave doll houses and play kitchens behind. We would also love to give them some clubhouse type space somewhere on our property someday if we can figure out a way to do so.

For now we will cherish the little days and appreciate the ways that being so near to each other helps our girls to grow and learn lessons that would be harder for us to teach if they didn't spend so much time together. We want them to learn to share and to be considerate and to forgive. Being in such close proximity to a sibling can be hard sometimes, and we've done what we can to mitigate that as far as is possible with our current living situation.