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How do you determine rooming situations with the children of your blended family?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

We realized recently that buying a new house is still a ways away for us. We currently rent a newer home with 3 bedrooms and a great back yard. We moved here about 6 months ago when I was pregnant, and between us we have 3 other children we have split custody with, plus the new baby. Since we co-sleep etc with the baby we felt 3 bedrooms was fine, and figure he will share a room with us for awhile. my two other children share a room in our house- and have typically always shared a room. His one other child has their own room- and always has. We figured that by the time the baby was old enough to "move out" of our room we would buy a larger house... Renting a larger house is kind of out of our budget. However looking into home buying right now I feel like the reality is we won't be ready to buy a house by the time the baby is outgrowing our room. Trying to move into a more expensive rental after living here such a short amount of time seems like it wouldn't be worth the stress on our family... our kids have moved a lot between households, and they are all under 7. 


I made the sort of obvious suggestion that when the baby is about 18 months he can begin to share a room with my partner's other child. They are biological brothers, so it seems like the natural order of things? My partner seemed put off by this idea- which i had figured before hand since there was so much discussion of needing a "bigger house". Even if we did have a 4 bedroom, I would more prefer to use the extra room as a much needed office space and look for a place with an extra common space for a playroom. I know there will be more discussion on the matter soon, so i wanted to ask other blended families how they handle rooming situations with bio, step, and "half" siblings. They are all boys, and my partner's son is 5 and a half years old. We have him 8 overnights a month. What are your thoughts on your own blended family's room-sharing- do you think a child who has always had their own room should be able to keep it that way, or a child that age in general ideally shouldn't share a room with a toddler?  I know personal space and belongings are important to a child especially in a blended family, but I also don't want to have a general rule of exclusion because thats what they've always had.

post #2 of 13

In our case (12 kids total, from 3 different families - 6 live at home full time, 2 half time, and 4 every other weekend) we really let the kids decide a lot of it. There are only 2 girls - they are not related at all, but they share a room. Everyone else was decided by a lot of discussion among the parents & kids, who wanted to share with who, etc. The initial arrangement didn't work out as well as we had hoped, and we re-arranged some rooms - everyone is now pretty happy :) Of course, there are the limits of the number of rooms, etc - which helps, I think, because you can present the options form that perspective. Yes, you may get more rooms later - but for now, what is really needed?


Good luck!

post #3 of 13

My boyfriend and I have 5 kids- three are his, two are mine.  My oldest son is 17, but he's behind in school, so he will be living with us at least until he graduates... in three years.  My youngest son is 18 months.  His daughters are 12 and 5 and his son is 8.  We've talked about the future alot and what it comes down to is, we would need at least a four bedroom- the 17 year old (mine) will get his own room and the girls (his) would share a room, as the little one won't sleep without her big sister, anyways.  His son (8) and my baby son (18 months) would probably share, but we would split them up out of neccesity, if possible, due to the age difference.  If more babies come, they would share a room with me and my boyfriend until my oldest moved out and then probably share a room with my youngest, leaving his son with his own room.

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you- I grew up sharing rooms, and I guess the gripe I'm not giving into is why room sharing is good enough for my other 2 kids, but not for his? He didn't say that, but other than the age gap it seems imbalanced to try to maintain his first child's "only child" status in a blended household. At first i thought it was a bad idea because of all the big kid toys and small parts, until I realized the other day the reality was we are going to have to be super careful with that no mater what once the baby is mobile- so I suggested we could solve that by sorting and storing toys with small parts for the big kids to use when the baby is supervised around them. Then room sharing wouldn't be as big of a deal. Particularly because that room is only occupied 8 days of the month (we would prefer more, and hopefully soon it will be more balanced). Our baby will be the only child living "full time" in our household.

post #5 of 13

my boys are 4 yrs apart, so a little closer in age than your 2, but they've never had any issues with sharing a room. In fact they still often share a bed like they have since the youngest was born, at 12 and 8 yrs old. They now have bunk beds with a full on the bottom but shared a king until a few years ago.


It seems silly to me to save a room only for your DSS that will be empty 3 weeks out of the month. I would expect the goal is for the kids to be bonded enough that they'd be happy to share rooms.


one thing I'd keep in mind is that dealing with a toddler in everyone's stuff will be an issue regardless of who sleeps in the same room with whom ;-)

post #6 of 13

At our house the sleeping situation changes fairly regularly. We have two bedrooms for the kids-- three who live here full-time (7 yr old boy, 5 yr old girl, and 3 yr old boy), and one (10-yr-old girl) who lives here part-time but for long stretches when she is here.


Our kids like sleeping together, so they either all sleep in the same room (yes, that means 3-4 kids in one room and no kids in the other room) or they split up  between two rooms (2 and 2-- previously olders and youngers, most recently boys and girls). Some of them bed-share with a sibling, some just room-share, and that changes, too. We feel comfortable with bed-sharing at this point even between brothers and sisters-- if any one person felt uncomfortable with it, we certainly would make a change.


Honestly, I don't care where they sleep and who they share with as long as they are able to fall asleep and get enough sleep, and everyone feels comfortable with the arrangement. They had one sleeping arrangement at the beginning of the summer, a different one throughout the summer, and are in yet another configuration as the school year starts. I imagine by the time next summer rolls around it might look different again. 


As for their "stuff," all the kids have a reasonable expectation of personal privacy and security for things they ask their siblings not to touch-- even my step-daughter, who is gone for stretches of time, knows that a half-finished art project will be left alone while she is at mom's. If anyone felt they needed more security for their belongings we would accommodate that as needed. For my step-daughter, we also have an (unused) "top bunk" where we keep her personal belongings (books, new items, letters from her mom, photo album, etc) while she is gone and the younger siblings respect that space-- we think it is important that she be able to leave things and find them there when she gets back, and having a designated space helps the siblings remember that not everything is community property. 


So, I guess our philosophy is flexibility, being open to adjusting to the changing needs of changing children and a frequently-shifting family dynamic. Do what works for the kids individually and as a group, regardless of whether it looks the same as anyone else's family. 

post #7 of 13

Oh geez..dp has/had a serious mental block about dsd's room situation here as well.  We have 2 bedrooms for 3 kids..dsd is here 35% of the time, all spread evenly through the year.  One bedroom is larger than the other, this was initally her room when we moved into the house, the other small room was the office.  When dd was born, no problem the small room became her room.  When ds was born, he was in our room for a long time, but we put all his stuff into the small room with dd (no crib because we didn't use one, but clothes, diapers, changing table, etc.) Honestly, it wasn't a big deal at that point because dd was sleepign in our room most of the time too! 


I tried to discuss several times either switching the rooms so that the kids sharing had the larger room or moving dd in with dsd so that the girls were sharing and dd had her own room at least some of the time.  They have a 6-year gap between them, so I didn't push the sharing option because dp was really against this and felt that dsd really needed her own space when she was at our house (she also has her own room at her mom's, always has.) 


Finally, when it came time to get twin beds for the little kids that seriously would barely fit in the little room with nothing else in there, I took it upon myself to redecorate and switch both rooms, so now dd and ds share the big room and dsd has the little room to herself.  He was STILL upset about switching the rooms even though dsd still had her OWN room because he felt like it was "kicking her out of her room"!!!!!  I had to put my foot down, it just wasn't fair and didn't make sense the way it was.  He got so caught up in making sure that dsd felt comfortable at our house that he lost sight of the big picture (not for the fist time, sigh).  And, p.s., DSD was totally fine with it-dare I say excited?! about redecorating her new room. 


In your case, it absolutely makes sense to have the boys share a room when the time comes.  In fact, what are the other options? You can't afford a bigger house to buy or rent...does he want you to put 3 kids in one room while your dss has a room to himself that barely gets used? It just doesn't make sense and frankly sends the wrong message to ALL the kids (including dss). 


Personally, I think it is good for kids to share rooms. I understand the need for personal space, and we try to enforce that, I but I don't believe in the whole "this is my room and you can never set foot inside and/or touch anything because it s MINE!" We all have certain things that are our "special" things, be it a doll, stuffed bear, expensive camera, whatever and it is enforced that those things are not to be toyed with by others.  Particularly with a toddler and older child, this might be a struggle, but make special place up high where the toddler can't reach for these things, buy a box that locks, etc.  People everywhere work this out and it is fine.  Eventually dsd and dd will share a room regardless of the 6-year age gap when the boy/girl room sharing becomes an issue (though I don't anticipate this for years yet.)  This will probably happen when dsd is an older teenager and dd is a preteen, and she will probably not be happy about it.  But, it is what it is and they will be okay. 


Sorry for the rant.  This is a touchy topic months and months later, hah!

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

thanks greenmami- it's helpful to hear other people struggle with the same issues. who knows, maybe if the situation were reverse and I had only 1 bio child blending a household where my partner had more than one, maybe I would be more protective of their comfort and personal space too... This isn't the first scenario either, it tends to be imbalanced in slight ways at times but the matter is greatly overshadowed by how great my partner is with my kids (his stepsons) and the effort he puts into including them. I also know he still feels deprived from his son since he got the short end of the stick custody-wise (he wanted 50/50 and ended up with 8 overnights a month, it was unjust and unfair but that's another story...) so I try to put that in consideration when I get miffed by things. This is still the early years of our life together!  But I do see that tunnel vision take hold at times, to assure  his son's - my stepson- comfort and space... even if it goes beyond what is practical in a family that realistically has 4 children, not 1. The room thing (which I would figure our baby being his son's bio brother wouldn't be as invasive as one of my boys), my kids aren't allowed in his room when he isn't home but he plays in their room/ with their toys when they're gone- and fixates on them over his own often. I feel like it's something I don't relate to because my boys are less than a year apart so they have almost always shared rooms, hand-me-downs, etc. I suppose with an older, formerly-"only"-child, a parent might have more qualms about their first's ownership/occupancy of things. But I feel the reality and logic of it is plain- we have a 3 bedroom house. we have 4 kids. they are young, and 3 of the four are only here part time. It's not worth stress and upheaval and financial strain to move into a bigger house just to assure his first son't solitary space... However, if our situation changes in the next year or so and moving into a bigger home isn't a problem, then great. I was just trying to be realistic about our options. 


I love that he DOES give his son special attention and time because that is absolutely important. I do the same with mine. :)

post #9 of 13

Just to provide a different perspective... My kids each had their own rooms at their Dad's until he remarried a woman with two children. Same gender split/spacing as our two, but a couple of years younger. The boys shared a room, as did the girls. There were two over-riding issues our two had to deal with. One was that the rooms were completely redecorated to reflect the other kids' tastes/desires, and ours were not permitted to have anything (be it a poster, blanket, etc.) that did not fit with "the theme." It really made them feel like visitors in their Dad's home. Try to make sure that your SS can still see the room he shares as partially his - reflecting his taste and interests - and not just "the baby's" room where he stays when he's over.


The second issue was one of "their" stuff (as someone touched on above). It was more an issue with the girls. No matter what it was, if our daughter left it at Dad's, it would be ruined by the time she was back. It reached the point where I told her that she should (ideally) not bring anything she cared about - but if she did, she should bring it back here. Clothes would be worn and left with stains. Books would have spines broken, covers ripped, etc. It was disheartening to the kids. Accidents happen, to be sure, but kids should be able to leave things at their parent's and have an expectation that (most of the time) those things would be safe.


Anyway... Just some things to consider.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

I absolutely want to maintain a sense of personal space and belongings- the funniest part is, all of our kids have always spent most of their time playing OUT of their rooms- preferring to drag toys and books and projects into the communal living space. if not that, they opt for my boy's room.  I think kids their age prefer a sense of community more than being isolated, although space and alone time is important too...

post #11 of 13

I am totally forum crashing, but I am wondering if one of your older boys might want to share the room? Even the middle boy might like a bit of time to himself.


We have four together and the oldest two had separate rooms for about two years. They are now nine and six (girl and boy) and dd recently asked to move into her own room again. We had an empty room, so let her and two days later her brother started camping out on the floor. He was just not ready to be alone, and the younger two sleep with us still.


Within the next year we will be moving the boys into the same room, and letting dd have her "own" room again. In our family it's super fluid, but then again we move a lot.

post #12 of 13

In a house that size with a family of 6, it's utterly insane for one of the bedroom to be reserved for the use of a child who lives there 8 nights/week. You are going to have to put your foot down. 


What I'd try first is to have the older boys together in one room, and work with them TOGETHER on a decor plan. They are all young enough to be flexible on a change in sleeping arrangements if it's presented positively. I'd really phrase it more as "you two are getting older and need space away from the baby so your stuff doesn't get messed up all the time - how about Avengers blankets and do you want black or brown bunk beds?" rather than an issue of the current arrangement not being a good use of space. That approach might work best with their Dad as well ;-)

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

sarafi, my two boys already share a room, and all 3 boys have only 6 months between them in age. The reason I dont consider a different combination is my oldest has autism, and isn't the ideal roomate but my other son is used to sharing a room with him since he was a toddler- so I wouldnt want to have my autistic son share a room with my stepson, nor would I want my autistic son sharing a room with the baby- he can be very loud, and wakes up at about 5 am every morning! 

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