I posted a long time ago about this subject when my emotions were running really high about it... Most of the things I have posted in the blended families forums have resolved themselves over time or have been resolved due to positive approaches on my husband and I's part (thanks for the advice everyone! :) usually it helps me look at things more objectively and calm down!)
So awhile back I rambled about how my husband was very protective of his child's space (from previous relationship, I have 2 from previous relationship, and we have one child together. All the same gender, the oldest 3 are all VERY close in age- early elementary- and our common child is an infant) to the point I was starting to take it personally. My two oldes have always shared a room, but my oldest has pretty severe autism, and wakes up very early, is loud, can be destructive, and I can see my second oldest get frustrated a lot these days- though he is also a very good brother :) ... We rent a 3 bedroom house, no family room or office or anything, just 3 bedrooms and a living room/dining room. Our goal has been to get a bigger home, but we really finally accepted we won't be in that position financially for some time. Currently the baby rooms with us, and my two bio kids room together and SS has his own room. SS is at our house overnight 8 days a month, and 2 other evenings. My children are at our home every other weekend, every week day(6 am until evening at least), and over half the overnights in the month.
My frustration before was I didn't feel like moving- I like our yard, our area, and our house despite it's small-er size. Our main focus on a "bigger house" was spreading the kids out more... mainly to give the baby a room as he got older and- in my husband's ideals- to preserve his child's room to themselves. Our children have lived together half their lives now- if you talk to them, they don't really remember a "before" time, just vaguely. It's not quite like older kids moving in together. The only obvious distinctive factor is they also live with their other bio parents and have their rooms there.
So we decided we should stay here for quite some time yet, and really settle in. It made the subject of rooms come up again- because though we co-sleep with our youngest/ they have a crib in our room, I would like a place to safely put him from time to time, and I thought- oh, if his oldest and my typically-developing child shared a room, I could definitely make it so there were no small parts/ dangerous toys in my child with ASD's room, (other boys are all about small parts- legos, puzzles, marbles, etc). So when my kids were at BD's house, our youngest could spend time in the other room, to play or to give us a little "space" at night. When I brought it up to my husband he was really supportive- wow, a change! it just took a little time! and in tandem to our conversation the two children started, on their own, talking about how cool it would be to share a room.
I brought it up to SS again, suggesting we try it out for the summer, and he basically flat out said no thanks. I get it, he's a kid, it's a big change, so we chatted a bit more and I dropped it. Then I brought it up to DH again. he was really (politely) defensive about his child having his own room once again. "I think he likes his own space". yeah, well duh. But let's also look at how my two older boys don't have their "own space" and we don't even have our "own space" with baby rooming in! It kind of seems a little absurd when I let myself sit with the thought. Especially... because his child is there the least amount of time as anyone in the family. I don't let my kids play in his room when he isn't home, so it's pretty much a shrine while he's away.
I love my SS. As much as my own. I miss him when he is away. But just as I love him as my own, I don't favor one of my kid's "space" above all others- I am only thinking of giving my child with ASD a room mostly to himself because of his loud/disruptive/destructive habits, and because he doesn't have any "choke-able" type toys so using the room for a toddler when he is away would be pretty easy.
. The thoughtful mom in me does see that SS is accustomed to his own space, and despite not being there often, it helps him feel like he has ownership and protection of his property in our home when he IS here. My kids may feel that more in general just because they are always here. He has never had to share a room, and maybe it would just be rough on him. There is also a distinction between toys- a difference that predates our cohabiting- where he has a lot of toy weapons and action figures, where my child has a lot more building/ craft/ manipulative type toys, because I am not big on the weapons thing. I kind of like keeping that out of my DS's play routine/space.
SO... I guess I would like some more input either way. Now that I KNOW we aren't moving any time soon, and we need to make our 2 kids rooms work for our brood of 4, I want to see what other parents have done/felt. The non-confrontational part of me is like "fine let SS keep his room, just clean HIS room really good when he isn't there and let the baby (as a toddler) nap/ play in there on the 22 days of the month he isn't there, and don't really talk about it? That is obviously a decent compromise, but it doesn't fully resolve the issues with my oldest waking my second oldest up/ breaking toys etc. However, I recently let my DS sleep in my SS's room when he wasn't there when his brother woke him up at 5AM. it seemed to work out- DS slept until 7, instead of being tired and awake at 5. it kind of breaks my heart when he gets woken up almost every morning. It has to be tough on him.
What would you do? what are the supportive arguments FOR letting SS keep his own room? What are the supportive arguments for having him share a room? Do any of my ideas sound doable?
For now it's a little trickier. I think when DSS isn't there, there's no reason your second oldest can't snooze in there for a couple of hours in the mornin after your oldest wakes up. I get the personal space/privacy issues, but in a 3-bedroom home with 6 people living there, concessions simply have to be made.
Yup, I have to agree-6 people, 3 bedrooms, equals 2 per bedroom unless there is a really good reason why not (and not just "he likes his own space.") I think I responded to your old thread that dp is very protective of dsd's space at our house as well-to the point where he didn't even want her to switch rooms from her own room to a different room which woudl also be her own room! She still does have her own room, despite being here less than half the time, while my kids share, but it still made sense since the little guys share most toys, bedtime is easier etc. If we had had another kid, however, there is no way I would be trying to cram them 3 to a room just to keep dsd her own room (obviously I'm talking about when baby is ready for his own room, which it sounds like it is that time for you.) FWIW my daughter complains about sharing and asks why dsd gets her own room and she doesn't on occasion and it is indeed a little hard to explain why!
If you think that is the best solution for your particular kids, I would go for it. Your stepson and husband are going to have to learn to be okay with the kiddos sharing at some point unless they can come up with another workable solution. Are the rooms very small? Maybe you can figure out a way to partition off areas for privacy or get two loft beds with room underneath so there is some non-shared space for each kid in the room?
Good luck! You are being very reasonable and patient about the whole thing :)
I'm also curious as to what your dh says about what he will do when the baby is older-does he intend to keep room sharing with him indefinitely? Have him share with your 2? Or does he realize that his oldest son will eventually have to share and is just putting it off?
If he just needs more time to get used to the idea, but agrees that in the next year or so he will help him adjust to sharing, I would maybe get a little travel bed or something that you can set up in his room when he is not there for the baby to nap on or your other son to sleep on, that you can then take out when your stepson is there.
greenemami yes I think you did reply to my old post- :)
I wanted to repost about it because my feelings about it are more on the fence now, and in the past my question was about not wanting to move "just have more rooms to ensure DSS always had their own room". Our children have moved a lot in their short lives and I didn't like the thought of moving a year after moving into a really great house because of the kid's room issues. Sure, i'd love a house with a family room and another bedroom or two, but our home IS lovely and I feel like we would be trading in it's charms for more utilitarian purposes (the larger houses we could possibly- possibly- afford to rent are very plain, cookie cutter, low quality, lame yards, etc etc.). My mom likes to shame me when I complain about space by reminding me that when she was a kid, her 8 brothers and sisters lived in a 3 bedroom house smaller than ours, not because they were poor but because that was the norm. Boys in one room, girls in the other.
I think when we moved in here DH was sure we would eventually buy a bigger home by the time our littlest one was a toddler. What our rent is a month, would be a mortgage for like a 5 or 6 bedroom house! But the reality is we are in no position to buy. He has past credit issues and debt and I am a SAHM. Just not the time and not realistic. To rent a bigger house would be way out of our budget, we live paycheck to paycheck as it is. SO the baby is nearing a year old, and in the next year I want him to be able to have a place to room or play at times that isn't ours. The kid's rooms are fairly small- my two have a bunk bed and that helps immensely. DSS was interested in sharing due in part because he is really keen on the bunk bed ;) and because him and my second oldest are pretty much best buddies at this point. In the past they quarreled more but they have really developed their relationship. They play together/ in each others "spaces" constantly, and very rarely try to seek refuge from the other.
But while once I was really indignant I feel bad for my DSS because of how little time he gets to spend here- believe me we would prefer more- and I am sure he has some transitioning challenges coming here after being away 10 days at a time, and re establishing our routine and his place in our home each time. He doesn't seem to struggle, but something like suddenly having to share a room that was always "his" may cause problems. On the other hand, I have always been wary of when I sense my DH is being more attatched to the idea of something than his child actually is (we all do it, right? Like how they were still stressing he always needed his special blankie and stuffed animal to sleep- as in driving across town in the middle of the night to get it- when I guess as an outsider saw DSS not caring at all anymore! ). I kind of wish DSS and my second oldest would just be game for room sharing and it would solve problems easily, but now that i think of it, if we put som toy shelves in DSS's closet I could pretty easily put his toys up for 10 days and vaccuum and there you have it- a safe space for a toddler to play and snooze (if he does indeed ever sleep in another bed more than 30 mins, ha).
I need to talk to DH about it more, his (frustrating, kinda unrealistic) reply in the past was always "we will move"... and I think moving just to ensure a room of one's own at the age of 6 is pretty extreme. Unless money wasn't an issue, but it is. Now that we are here for some time, it needs to be dealt with. even if it's just another year, or 2, or 5.
Well, my kids (1 boy, 1 girl) were in a similar situation. At their Dad's, they had their own bedrooms, despite only being there once a month and all summer. Until he remarried, and their step-sibs (also 1 boy, 1 girl) moved in. Then, it was expected that they would share the respective rooms. That was not, in and of itself, an issue - as I explained to them, it only made sense given the number of rooms, number of people, and the gender distribution. And besides, they had their own bedrooms here.
Where the problem came in was in the changes that were made to the rooms. The rooms were completely redecorated to the tastes of the step-sibs/SM. To keep the "integrity of the decor", they were not allowed to have anything deviating or of personal flair in their portion of the room(s). Anything that was "theirs" was considered available for use w/o question. It caused a lot of (ongoing) resentment. As my daughter put it - Dad threw away their space, their stuff... and them. My oldest talks to his Dad maybe twice a year. My youngest? Hasn't talked to him in... over four years.
So, the point? Your husband may have a legitimate concern that his son's place in your home may be erased and he will be relegated to being a guest. I'd come up with a plan where the needs of all the family are met and valued. Where the bedrooms are reasonably allocated w/the number of people living there, but your stepson has a space to call his own. That's doable with sharing a room. Involve him in any redecorating, Allow him to put his own spin on his part of it - even if it doesn't match. Make it a rule that no one's stuff is to be sued w/o permission. And even when it is given? Whatever is being used is treated with care. Since he and one of your sons get on so well, it can be a positive for them both. You just have to spin - and execute - it right.
I was reading and could see both sides until I saw that the step son is only 6. Is this right? If so, um...he doesn't need his own room nor should he get to make that call. I assumed he was closer to teenage, and had been used to having his own room for 12+ years, and entering the teen phase is a rough time to go from your own room to sharing. But really, it is silly NOT to have him share once your little one is in his own bed/room. I think your compromise in using the room when he isn't there is great, just make sure that his toys aren't played with and that his "stuff" stays intact; even when sharing, my kids and foster kids had their own toys and had to respect that. If your dh is on board, he should be the one to tell his child the plan and start transitioning him, too. This stuff is so tricky, you seem to be doing a great job :)
"Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen." Ralph Marston
Thanks for all of the feedback- after considering everyone's thoughts on the matter and meditating on it some more (and bringing the subject back up with DH), I think the best solution (for now) is instead of making DSS and my second oldest share a room, leaving my son with ASD to his own room/ to utilize it for a toddler when he is away, I think we are going to go with the keeping the rooms "as they are" but utilizing DSS's room for the baby/toddler while he is away- at actually makes a little more sense simply because we will be able to utilize it way MORE than I would my boy's space if son with ASD had "own" room- because DSS is gone 10 days at a time, and only overnights 8 days a month (ugh. it breaks my heart every time to type that. 8 days. That never gets easier. Miss him.) vs. my oldest 2 being at my house every week day and every other weekend. The one issue it doesn't completely resolve the issue of my oldest beinf semi-destructive and loud in the early morning hours. I think my second oldest will be ok going to sleep in DSS's bed if he does get woken up early and still wants to sleep. Perhaps my oldest will get better about that as time goes by... Who knows. We will make sure all of DSS's things are put up/away (looking at his room right now, it would actually be pretty easy), vaccuum, and let it be a toddler space. I think our littlest one is too young to be possessive of "his space", lol, so he probably won't be bothered so much when DSS is home and reclaims the room.
As far as decor goes- I don't "decorate" the kid's rooms with any sort of theme! :) A lot of mismatched things (bedding isn't a "set", even between the bunkbeds), no color themes, nothing like that. Toy's, pictures, kid's art displayed. There would be no need to remove (tho perhaps add to) any of it. The toy thing was something I was concerned about with the DSS and second oldest sharing a room- I feel like that would be a point of conflict (at tinmes) with them- and I could imagine DSS being stressed about "his things" being played with while he is away (as i mentioned earlier we close off his room while he's gone). In the end if DSS and my son decide they really want to share a room I suppose that's ok too, perhaps the solution to toy conflict would be to put DSS's things up while he is gone :)
We tried it out this past week and it worked GREAT! :D It only took me about 5 minutes to put DSS's toys safely on shelves/ in bins in his closet (the toors are really heavy and the baby would never be able to open them), vacuum, and there you have it- a space for a baby to play in :) I figure I can swap his bedding out too as the baby gets older so he han play/bap on the bed. Luckily DSS isn't at an age where he minds me "messing with his toys/stuff" yet- He is always stoked if I clean his room, so when he comes home everything will be clean an organized, I think he will be pleased. Hopefully!