Disclaimer: Not an Expert
This post is not a “how-to” on organization, toy-bin labeling, or keeping kids’ rooms tidy all the time. If you find a blog post on how I can do this well without sacrificing my sanity, I’m here for it. This post is for any parent starting a journey of kids sharing rooms, without a clue in the world as to how it will work. Are shelves exploding with books? Want to be more minimalistic? Wondering how in the world your kids have so many clothes and where to store them? These are some areas of sibling room-sharing in which I feel qualified to lend my expertise. But if you see a “Help Wanted” ad for getting room-sharing sisters to fall asleep peacefully and independently, I probably wrote it.
Big Family, Small Space
I have three little girls and a mom whose love language involves buying their fall and spring wardrobe. My kids are seven and a half, four and a half, and coming up on two and a half. Oh, and we love clothes. When our oldest two were very young, we lived in a large house on the Eastern shore where storage was not an issue. Four years ago we moved to DC for grad school, reducing our living space by more than half. I then became pregnant with my third daughter. This is when we learned the art (dance? circus? trick?) of room-sharing.
We lived in a two-bedroom apartment and fostered a little girl on the weekends while I was pregnant with my youngest. My oldest two girls shared a room and the baby slept next to our bed until she was about six months old, when we moved. During that season, the girls shared one closet and one dresser. We looked forward to a day when we could split up the girls and give them each a larger space of their own. Who knew that when we moved to a large house in Silver Spring, we would choose to room all three girls together?
Clothes Storage: Less is More
When we moved, our girls started sharing a large bedroom upstairs with two large closets. We brought our beloved shared dresser along, and each of them got one drawer. This was not a large or magical dresser with deep or hidden drawers—just your basic Ikea Hemnes. Was this enough space for pajamas, socks, undies, and seasonally-appropriate clothes? Definitely not. This is when we decided to utilize rolling storage bins in their closets which would store these smaller items.
We kept only the shirts and bottoms for that season in their drawer. Everything else was hung or organized and labeled in a bin in their closet. As the seasons change, we go “shopping” in the closet so that my middle and youngest can get the big sisters’ clothes, and plan for which new items big sister will need. Before I shop, I take a careful inventory of what each child has and needs. If it doesn’t fit in the drawer, it doesn’t fit in the “need” category. My girls have lots of dresses and have never complained about their lack of clothing.
The bond my girls formed when sharing their space was one I am grateful for. That being said, we were recently able to convert our main floor office into a bedroom for my husband and me, which meant that big sister was going to have her own room for the first time in almost four years. All of this moving meant that she would be bringing her “big girl books” to her new room, leaving me with a ton of kids’ books of all shapes, sizes, levels, and textures. Now, I’m not particular about the way shelves are organized as long as they aren’t exploding, but the differently-textured books were driving me CRAZY! The “Learning to Read” paperbacks just wouldn’t stand up straight and kept slipping off the shelves. The board books and nice hardback classics just didn’t work on the same shelf and we kept forgetting about some of our favorites. That’s when I went back to my bins.
If It Doesn’t Fit, Get Rid of It
Now, I love books–especially children’s books. There are some prized possessions from my childhood that grace my children’s shelves with faded book spines and nostalgia. However, we are frequent flyers of our local library and city-living has taught me that it’s just not necessary that I own every children’s book. All that to say, my kids each have a small, four-cube Ikea shelf and once the shelf is full, it’s time to donate. Those floppy books I mentioned fit beautifully in the plastic rolling drawers that I also use for socks and underwear. All of the well-loved “Learning to Read” paperbacks go in one drawer and the other slippery paperbacks go in another. This makes them easy to find and less likely that they will fall behind the shelves unnoticed.
*Pro-tip: We don’t keep library books in their rooms. We have a specific “book bin” in our TV stand that is for library books only. When we want to read one at bedtime, we take it to the bedroom, read it, and do our best to put it back in its place immediately. This lessens the blow of the seemingly never-ending library fines we seem to rack up as frequent library patrons.
Work In Progress
I am still trying to figure out to organize the girls’ shoe hand-me-downs, so if you have any specific suggestions, please send them my way. I hope this article was helpful and provided a few tips and tricks for navigating the organizational aspect of room-sharing.
A Happy Homeschooling Mom who will never be featured on Pinterest 🙂
Do you have tips to share about sibling room-sharing? Please leave a comment below! And try these minimalist parenting tips for even more ways to organize small spaces.