Please talk me off the ledge re: kids sharing a room - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 09-02-2014, 02:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Please talk me off the ledge re: kids sharing a room

This seems so dumb, but I really need some perspective...

BAckground: I am due with baby #3 in Oct. We have a small (about 1300 sq ft) house with three bedrooms. All the rooms are small, but 8yo DD's room is truly tiny - about the size of a nice walk in closet. It's been her room since she was born. 3yo DD has a larger room, maybe 10x10 or a little bigger. We decided to move the two girls into the larger room and turn the tiny room into a nursery for the new baby. Both girls were on board with this plan, especially since we promised them bunk beds and a desk for my older one, and to make the room really special and nice.

Well, my husband started switching the rooms around two days ago, and my older daughter has come UNGLUED. She is extremely upset with all the changes, is miserable in the room with her sister and worst of all - nobody is sleeping!! Since this is real life and not HGTV, it is going to take us some time to get both rooms finished, we can't just magically fix their room up in half a day and do a grand reveal. Right now they both have mattresses on the floor and most of DD#1's stuff is boxed up. They are both having a really hard time adjusting to all this, and I feel our first priority needs to be getting their room in order. My husband, however, feels like he needs to focus on getting the baby's room ready first to get that done, and also because it involves repainting/fixing some wall damage. He's told the girls that it will be two weeks before we buy their new furniture and work on their room. He and I had a fight about it last night, I can't understand why he won't consider doing their room first, he's mad because he's having to do all the work and so he feels like he should be the one to decide the order it gets done. He also feels that the 8 yo is really over reacting and that she needs to suck it up because no one has died from sharing a room with their sibling.

I just can't stand to see my daughter so miserable. She misses her room, is having trouble sleeping and wakes up the whole family, which certainly isn't improving anyone's mood. This is the second day of everyone being up since 3:00am or so. She has been crying a lot and has basically convinced herself that sharing a room is going to awful.

At this point, I just want to put the rooms back the way they were and sort out what to do with the baby later. We plan to cosleep for a little while, but not long term - that's not really an option for various reasons. Eventually, we have to put this baby somewhere. I would also (reluctantly) consider putting the baby in with they 3 yo, but that seems like asking for sleep issues, my 3y is a good, but light sleeper and I just can't face two night waking kids at once. Of course, that's what I have now!!! WIll it ever get better? My husband thinks this whole thing is ridiculous, and that the kids will adjust eventually and that it is much better to get it worked out now than wait til the baby's here. He also strongly feels that we shouldn't give in to the 8 yo (i.e., give her her room back) just because she is pitching a fit.

At this point I don't trust any decisions I'm making, I'm so tired and hormonal. This has been a hard pregnancy and I'm not coping well. Everyone is miserable, not sleeping well, and mad at each other. Two sisters sharing a bedroom just doesn't seem like it should be this traumatic. Other people do it EVERY DAY!!!

Has anyone had this type of experience? Does it get better? Any general advice? Am I missing something?? Please help if you can. Sorry this is so long.
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#2 of 8 Old 09-02-2014, 04:19 AM
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That sounds like a really tough and stressful situation for everyone involved

Personally I would just have left the 8 year old in her room and put the baby in with the other little one. Firstly, I think making her move risks her feeling resentful towards the new baby. A new baby is a big change and often makes kids feel sort of insecure about their place in the family so losing the space that has always been yours to them is understandably likely to be upsetting.

Secondly, I remember being that age and sharing a room with my sister (4 years younger than me). I adjusted to her sleeping in my room when I was very little and just learnt to sleep through but once I hit about 9 I really, really needed my own space. There is a lot of difference between a pre-teen and a preschooler (as they will be in a couple of years) and I think pushing the two together risks making their relationship more strained. Once girls are about 10 or so they start becoming much more self-conscious and private, and I really didn't want my sister hanging around all the time!

I'm sure that soon the older sister will learn to sleep there, but I also think a three year old is much more likely to easily adapt to sharing and would learn to sleep through.

Your husband is right that giving in to her sets a bad example, however I think it's really important for him to think more deeply about how she might be feeling. Maybe give her a time to talk it through with you and find out what her concerns are and what specifically is upsetting her. My son (6) reacts very badly to changes and we get a lot of tantrums, but the situation is usually much improved by me getting him to talk it through and reassuring him.

Those are just my feelings about what *I* would do in that situation though! I don't mean to be un-reassuring!

I do think though that whatever happens everyone *will* adjust in time. Children are notoriously flexible. Plenty of families have no space and children have to sleep many to a room and have to learn to get on! In the mean time there is always bribery

I really hope things improve soon!
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#3 of 8 Old 09-02-2014, 04:47 AM
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I don't have a lot of advice for you, but if I were the existing 8 year old, I would feel no more important than furniture and that is really rough. I don't think that taking her feelings into account is out of line. She is a person too, right? Why does your husband's convenience matter and hers doesn't?

And when I was 11-13 I lived with 12 people in a five bedroom house. The entire group decided I should have my own bedroom because girls that age are... difficult. You are getting close to that point and having your house constantly filled with screaming because your oldest can't get privacy... that's going to suck.

Good luck. This sounds hard and like you have good reasons to be flustered--it isn't just pregnancy.
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#4 of 8 Old 09-02-2014, 09:05 AM
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I don't think it's as much about sharing a room as it is about being in a state of flux for an undetermined amount of time. Change and uncertainty are hard on anyone. She's gone from her cozy room to stuff in boxes and sleeping on a mattress on the floor. I'm with you, I'd focus on making that room special and complete ASAP. If it's a matter of paint and furniture, that's a weekend, you know?

If that can't happen, I'd try to make it feel finished now and not like living in a construction zone and I'd let my daughter spend her time "planning" if she's into that. We recently moved and my almost nine year old who DOES NOT LIKE CHANGE spent a lot of time drawing floor plans of different furniture lay outs, looking at catalogs, and thinking of paint colors. It doesn't matter that we're not going to do any of that, but it helped her pass the time until we could get the darn bunk beds sorted (what is it with bunk beds???). I think she felt like she had some control.
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#5 of 8 Old 09-02-2014, 01:26 PM
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She seems to feel strongly about it-give the girl her room back.
The baby can sleep with you. Figure it out later, with everyone's needs and input taken into consideration....

You sound like you know what youre doing, but dont trust yourself because you are 'hormonal'. Those pregnancy hormones tell the truth. Trust your instincts and your feelings, ...and your hormones! And, congratulations!
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#6 of 8 Old 09-03-2014, 05:14 PM
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I have to say, I really feel for your daughter, but I agree that it might be more the disarray that's getting to her than the actual room change. I'm 37 weeks with our second, and we technically live in a 1 bedroom. My 4 year old DD has slept in the "real" bedroom with me since birth, and we're currently trying to turn our TV room into a second bedroom and make the real bedroom a kids room that can also accommodate me. Long story short, the entire house is in disarray, we keep having to change our sleeping spaces, I had to give up my bed and have been on an air mattress, my DD's bed is all dismantled... My DD has been dealing with it like a champ, but I had several nights where all I could do was cry. It's just hard and uncomfortable being in a state of flux in your home. There's nowhere comforting and familiar to flee when you're upset.

On the other hand, I also can really see value in letting your DD keep her room and putting the baby in with the 3 year old. It may be harder for a while, but it might work better in the long run, since the age difference there is less. There's definitely a major symbolism in "replacing" your DD's space with the baby's space. We were initially going to put my DD in her own room, but it seemed very much like saying "Okay, there's a new baby, you can't have mommy any more," so that was a big reason we decided to keep things a little more status quo.

Anyway, it's a big decision - but I agree with you on both fronts: 1. That if you decide the girls will share, their space needs to be stabilized ASAP, and 2. That it's not unreasonable to rethink the room sharing situation. You could tell your husband that it's really not about the 8 year old's tantrum at all, but a completely practical re-thinking of how the room dynamics will work in the longer term - so he doesn't have to do another renovation in 3 years. An 11 year old sharing a room with a 6 year old probably makes less sense than a 6 year old sharing with a 3 year old.
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#7 of 8 Old 09-07-2014, 08:37 PM
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Though we coslept much longer than it sounds like you plan to, we had a very similar set up when my son was born. Dsd was nearly 9 and dd was almost 3. Also a small house with 3 small bedrooms. Even though dsd didn't even live there full-time since she was back and forth at her mom's, I decided to keep her in her own room and let dd and ds share. It was fine! I think with the larger age gap and the age of the older child in general, it makes sense to let her keep her own space. It sounds like your oldest is maybe struggling with the idea of a new baby coming and maybe displacing her a bit or just changing the family dynamics, and switching the rooms is really making that real to her.

While generally I agree with not giving into a fit, I also think it's okay to take a step back and have a serious conversation with her, and then really consider changing the plans again if you think she really needs the comfort of her own space right now. Good luck!

If you and/or your husband decided not to switch the rooms back, remember that she will in time get used to it and it isn't the end of the world Do what you can to get her in there quickly, but 2 weeks is really not that long. I would suggest setting some sort of policy that she can get alone time in the room during certain times of day or upon (reasonable) request.

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#8 of 8 Old 04-07-2016, 04:15 PM
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Maybe let the 8 YO have her room the way it is while you co-sleep and then let her learn to love the new one?
I am currently pregnant with #4 and we have a 1200 sq ft house. The baby will be with us for probably 18 months or so and currently my 4/5 year old share a bed because he never sleeps in his and gets in with his sissy anyway so his room is not even being used. We have 3 kids all in one room most nights because it is what works for us and them.

My 8 year old needs her space so we have bunk beds so she has her own area and my 5 year old has hers but in the same (10x10) room.

things may change once the baby is here anyway and the sleeping arrangements change. Maybe take her to go pick a new bedding out so she feels like it is special for her too.

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Last edited by rideswithchrist; 04-07-2016 at 04:25 PM.
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