My family and I live in our starter house that Todd and I bought when I was pregnant with J. It’s a great house, but we have outgrown it. The house has 3 bedrooms, and so two of our kids have to share.
Sharing a room of course is not a problem in and of itself. But, the problem is my birth order does not lend itself to easy room sharing. J is my only girl. She and my first son H are 15 months apart. They do everything together, they go to bed at the same time, they have the same bedtime routine, they are true sidekicks. But, they are a boy and a girl, and so when I found out I was pregnant with L, a boy, without even thinking about it, I made a room for the boys to share based solely on my old way of thinking that boys had to room with boys.
But unfortunately for me, this archaic way of thinking does not lend itself to real life. Placing a newborn and a 3 year old in a room together does not work. When L was younger his late night feedings would disturb H. Luckily for H, L began to sleep through the night at around 3 months old. BUT, L’s sleeping through the night was contingent on one thing: COMPLETE SILENCE. Yes, L is the greatest baby in the world, but he has one vice….he is a light sleeper. I have yet to figure out how the youngest child (a daycare kid) with two loud toddler siblings becomes a light sleeper. L’s bedtime is 7:30. H goes to bed at 8:30. So every night at 8:30 I would open the door to put H to bed and L would wake up. Problem is once he was up, I could kiss the sleeping through the night goodbye!
But we continued on with our rooming plan. As sheer exhaustion took over after late nights with the light sleeper we started to just let H sleep on the floor of his sister’s room. This of course raised the question of whether H should have a new roommate.
Now I am very liberal and try to be a modern thinker, but for some reason I just couldn’t get my mind around letting my son and daughter share a space. J is the poster child of girly girls. H is a spunky little boy. They can’t share a room. They would lose their personalities right? As the months passed, I started talking to people about the kids sharing a room. Of course I made the mistake of talking to older people, who said “But J is such a princess, you don’t want her to lose that. Just wait it out. L will outgrow this stage”.
But L didn’t outgrow it, in fact if only got worse. Little Light Sleeper would hear the smallest of ankle cracks as H and I tried Mission Impossible style to make it into his toddler bed. I even went as far as holding my breath when I would tip toe in with H.
Okay, so obviously this wasn’t working. But as you probably can tell from reading my blogs, I’m a notorious over-analyzer, so I had to research this before we made the move. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it but I, a woman with a law degree, spent my evenings typing “Problems with co-ed rooming” or “Can a sister and brother share a room?” into a search engine. Did I actually think I would find some doctor who would say: “Yes, Mandi if you do this your kids will need therapy for the rest of their lives”??
Well, of course I didn’t find that, in fact I found the opposite. Due to the economy and downsizing, co-ed rooming is becoming the norm. In fact all my favorite stores have gender neutral bedding and tips for sharing spaces.
So it took my mind a little time to catch up, but I realized I was being stupid. My kids personalities have nothing to do with their bedrooms. I decided it was time for J and H to room together.
So my concerned parent personality left and my interior designer persona stepped in. How on earth was I going to pull off a dual space and keep the two strong personalities that I love in perfect harmony???
I started by interviewing my new decorating clients over cookies and milk. J was more than willing to share her space, as H was in her room most nights anyway and she hated that I (when she was a baby) painted her walls purple when I should have known pink was her favorite color. But, the Diva had 4 conditions: (1) She had to have hot pink on her side with a Barbie Fashion Fairytale theme. (2) She wanted the larger side, i.e. the side away from the door, with room for a makeup and dress up nook, (3) Her new roommate could not have any scary monsters on his side and (4) She would, under no circumstances, share her beloved closet. H was by far the easiest client as he agreed to all the conditions and just had one request: he wanted a big bed (twin bed) like his sister. Of course after months of making him sleep on a small crib mattress on the floor of his own house I was more than willing to make this purchase.
I scrolled my beloved decorating websites and magazines thinking of a way I could join the room. I’m sure this goes without saying, but I love decorating. My goal in my house is to always make it look like a Pottery Barn Catalog, so the idea of just throwing the room together was not an option for my HGTV-loving mind. I had to figure out how to make Barbie and Superman live in perfect harmony.
I decided the walls needed to be changed from their girly purple to a neutral color. There was no way I could paint the bright colors they both wanted on the walls and have them look good together. I chose a silvery gray that I thought would blend both of the personalities. But then I remembered my clients’ requests for color and I still needed something cohesive in the room that would make it make sense. I stumbled upon a picture on a website that gave me the perfect idea. Polka Dot vinyl rub ons! So, the walls were given their fresh paint coat and hopefully in 5-7 business days they will be adorned with hot pink, black and white polka dots on J’s side, and blue, black, and white on H’s side.
The room is still in progress, but my clients are happily moved in. H ended up choosing a space theme, and J is still awaiting her Barbie bedding. They’ve been sleeping in their new room a couple of nights now and for the first time in a long time H sleeps through the night knowing he can roll over without disturbing his roommate (who could sleep through a train rolling through our house). My household is now back to perfect harmony.
I have learned a valuable lesson from all of this: just do what is easy. It works every time!