Monday, February 15, 2016

Do kids need their own rooms?

We are a family with three children (all daughters) aged 12.5, almost 11, and 7. We live in a three-bedroom house that in all other respects suits us extremely well ... but it does mean that two children have to share one of the relatively small bedrooms at all times.

When they were younger, this was not only not a problem, it was actively useful, as the elder two (who are close in age) shared interests, hobbies, and, from when they were both school-aged, a bedtime. We managed the space issue by installing two loft beds in the shared room, with a desk under the bed and cupboard space built in. To be totally honest, the beds are over-large for the reasonably small room, and they dominated the space, but we used them for the big girls for four years (from 2010 to 2014) and it worked.

Then, my eldest started getting too tall to sleep comfortably in the loft bed, and was hanging out for her own space. The youngest and the middle were keen to try sharing, so we switched things up and put #2 and #3 in together in the loft-bed room, while #1 now a room with single bed, desk and dresser to herself. This has been the situation for about 15 months now.

It hasn't been a roaring success, for a range of reasons. It's got slightly better since we got rid of one of the lofts (littlest really hated sleeping high, and frequently refused to do it) and have replaced it with a single bed for the 7 year old. Nonetheless, almost-11 is in Grade 6 this year and is agitating to have her own room to start high school next year ... a thing we cannot actually physically accomplish in our current situation. (She's the only one prepared to "sleep high", which unfortunately leaves her in the position of being the only one who CAN share, as we can't fit two single beds + desks in any of the rooms).

We're kicking around options for dealing with this. The design of our house makes adding a room on an unlikely measure - it could be done, but to do it sympathetically to the house is likely to be too costly to be realistic. We do have a detached double-brick slate-floor garage, currently used as a storage / junk space, and we're contemplating whether, after a big clean-out, replacing the garage doors, and the addition of skylights and cooling / heating, we could render that into a habitable room. This would be initially probably as a shared study / relax room for the kids, and maybe down the track we could add plumbing for an ensuite and turn it into an actual bedroom. (We don't garage the cars and have no plans to start doing so!) Another option that's been considered is building a small granny flat in the yard, to be used as a work office for me which would mean that one of the kids could have my desk in the open plan study area.

The other option, of course, is to move house - but there is significant reluctance to do this, for a range of reasons, not least of which is our constant awareness of the financial precarity that may come by increasing our debt now that I am a freelancer (so, have a variable income). Having looked at the market, I don't think we could move to a bigger, nicer house in the same or similar area without almost doubling our current very manageable mortgage, and I'm just not sure we want to, or should, do that. Although our neighbourhoood is not perfect, it's very convenient for our current lives - kids' schools, work, the community we have embedded ourselves in. I can't imagine being willing to take on more debt to live somewhere LESS convenient just to get one extra room.

I think what needs to happen is that we need to get proper professional advice from a builder about what would be required to turn the garage into a proper room, and how much it would cost, including, importantly, whether there is a feasible way to connect the garage to the house by creating at least a covered access if not a corridor. At the moment we're really flying blind.

The big question I have, though, is this: Do you think kids need their own bedrooms? At all? Always? When they are teens? When they are in VCE? Never?

I grew up having my own room, as did my brother, whereas my husband not only didn't have his own room, he didn't even have *A* room - he slept on a fold-out bed in the family lounge which had to be packed up every morning. So we bring very different lenses to this question,

Your thoughts welcomed!

1 comment:

  1. As an only child I never shared of course. DH was still sharing a tiny bedroom with his older brother when I met him at 21. I don't think he particularly enjoyed it as his older brother could be a bit of a bully, but he certainly never questioned it. Personally if that becomes a issue for us, the girls will share or we will adapt our current house, we certainly won't be moving. A friend had her three boys share 1 room until they were teenagers, but they renovated to make extra rooms when teenagers. I do think there is a need for a privacy space as teenagers, but it doesn't necessarily need to be a bedroom. I'm sure I read once about a family that turned a small room in their house into a "quiet" room which the children or parents could book for use on their own. So thats my ramblings, good luck with a difficult situation.