Dear Family Foxhole,
There are three kids in our family: my brother (15), me (a girl, aged 8), and my other brother (age 5). I have to share a room with my little brother. He is so messy! How can I convince my mom and dad to give me my own room?
The Princess living in a Pigpen
I feel your pain. This is my reality, with some differences in ages.
Ask your parents for a solution. Make it the only thing you ask for for Christmas and your birthday. Stress that it is the numero uno thing you want in the entire world.
Can they turn a room into the basement into a Teen Cave for your older brother? (It will have to have a window he can use as an exit in case of a fire. And put in a radon detector.) Could they turn a room over the garage into a living space for him? Even if it’s just during the summer (since he might get cold out there otherwise)? He’d love to be a little farther away from you all anyway.
Is there a formal dining room that you don’t use anyway? Or an office that a parent is hogging?
Or can you share custody of the little brother? Even if you just didn’t have to have him over the summers, that would be an improvement.
Your share a room because you live in a three bedroom house, which means that two kids have to share a room. It can be you and Older Brother (OB), you and Little Brother (LB), or LB and OB. Those are the only options, mathematically speaking.
Your parents probably have some good reason for this decision. Your older brother probably stays up later and gets up earlier than your littler one. In three years, your older brother will likely be out of the house anyway, so it is nice for him to have his own space now. After he leaves, you’ll have your own room between ages 11 and 18. Freedom is coming!
This is hard! It sounds like you might not be able to get your own room. So how can you make this one more livable for yourself?
First, ask for help. Since you are graciously sharing space (and I do encourage you to stop complaining about having to share if there is no other option), ask the people who aren’t sharing space to help make it an easier situation for you. Maybe have a rotation of who will help keep your little brother’s mess to a minimum. It could be a daily rotation or a weekly one (like, this week your mother will be in charge, but next week your father will). Just because you share a room with your little brother doesn’t mean you have to clean up his messes–or have to live with them!
Second, find ways that you can make the space your own AND ways you can enjoy the space together. If you both like art, for example, you could set up an easel in one corner. Maybe you like the same color scheme for the paint and curtains, or maybe you like the same music on your alarm clock. Enjoy having those things in common. And make some space just for you–for example, with a special set of sheets or a bulletin board of your favorite photos. If you need some separate space, see if your parents will let you make a little “nest” in the bottom of your closet with some big floor pillows and a flashlight. Or make a canopy for your bed by throwing sheer curtains over a hulu hoop and suspending it horizontally from the ceiling. We did this for Lamb and Banana’s bedroom a few years ago, and it gave Lamb some daily privacy. If you want to “princess it up,” wind fake flowers and LED lights around the hoop, too, and hang it from a fancy plant hook using a few feet of tulle. Glue on some sparkles. Build a second one in your little brother’s favorite color so he leaves yours alone.
Third, remember that your little brother might not want this situation either. He probably has hopes and dreams for his bedroom that aren’t getting fulfilled because he shares it with you. Maybe he’s as disappointed to be living with a princess as you are to be living with a pig! Try to remember that your way of doing this might be as upsetting to him as his is to you.
Finally, focus on the good parts about sharing a room. Does this mean you get bunk beds? If so, you can work together to turn your bed into a fort or a submarine or an underground bunker. You have someone to snuggle with if you have a bad dream.