Kids aren’t well known for their sharing abilities. Or their patience. Or their awareness. The fact is, kids still have a lot of growing up to do—especially when it comes to the way they share spaces.

Unless you’re fortunate enough to have one for each person in your home, the bathroom is a shared space, and small bathrooms are prime territory for sibling fights. With one accidental elbow jab, the simple task of getting all teeth brushed before bedtime can turn the kids’ bathroom into an all-out gladiatorial brawl.

It isn’t only the limited space that makes them a hot spot for sibling rivalry. There are other things that can cause tension in the kids’ bathroom, including:

  • Leaving behind messes
  • Taking too long
  • Health and privacy issues
  • Using others’ personal items/toiletries

Some degree of sibling rivalry is inevitable, but there are plenty of ways parents can help keep it under control. Here are our favorite tips for squashing the shouting when it comes to shared and small bathrooms:

Strategy #1: Create a bathroom schedule.

Every week, hold a quick family meeting to review everyone’s schedules. Then, develop a bathroom schedule that ensures everyone gets the time they need in the bathroom. If the kids’ schedules align, you can alternate who gets the bathroom first each morning to knock down any arguments about who gets to sleep in. If your kids have a creative and artistic spirit, you can keep them engaged by getting a magnetic chalkboard and putting up photos of every family member to make the schedule more visual and fun.

Of course, things come up at the last minute, and kids aren’t great at remembering their commitments. No matter how you decide to write your bathroom schedule, keep it visible so everyone can always see it, and check in as new commitments pop up in case changes need to be made.

Strategy #2: Keep a bathroom chore chart

Let’s be honest—even adults don’t react very well when we see there’s no toilet paper until after it’s too late.

Kids’ bathrooms can become chaotic very easily. Misplaced items, unstocked essentials, and unspeakable messes left behind for the next person can all destroy a peaceful morning.

Many brawls can be avoided by keeping a bathroom chore chart. Lay out exactly what tasks need to be done and how often, giving your kids shared responsibility for keeping the space tidy so everything is where it needs to be. Be sure to alternate the more unpleasant chores, or there will be fights over that, too. If one of your kids is noticeably messier than the others, develop an individual system in which everyone is responsible for their own bathroom messes.

If a bathroom chore chart is too much hassle, you can also set one very simple rule: Before bed every night, each kid gives the bathroom a 20-second check to make sure essential items are where they need to be for their morning routine. Toothbrush? Check. Hairbrush? Check. Make the checklist a fast routine before bed every night, and the mornings will be clear for takeoff.

Strategy #3: Multiply your space

Very often, siblings fight over bathroom space because there simply isn’t enough of it. If you have the space for a bathroom remodel, consider adding a larger vanity or installing a second sink. For those with small bathrooms, look for space that isn’t being used where you can provide more surface area, such as extending the counter over the toilet. If your kids have outgrown bubble baths, consider a tub-to-shower conversion to open the floor space and reduce congestion.

Another way to maximize your space is by installing a wider mirror and ensuring there’s plenty of light in more than one area of the room. Two kids crowded in front of a small mirror is a recipe for disaster—especially when one of them is already freaking out because that little red dot on their chin is definitely a zit and picture day is tomorrow!

Strategy #4: Create shared and private storage space

Another cause for argument is how much space everyone gets for their stuff. Kids’ bathrooms come with an endless supply of items: towels, bath toys, hair dryers, straighteners, scrunchies, bath toys, skin lotions, sprays, and did we mention bath toys?

Help your kids share their space by providing plenty of storage options. Consider recessed shelving, extra towel bars or hooks, and a shower caddy with clearly separated spaces for personal hygiene items (or bath toys). Don’t forget that although many items in the bathroom are fine for sharing, some are not. Consider having at least one storage area that’s for personal items only so there’s no argument about who used whose expensive lip gloss.

Strategy #5: Create a no-electronics zone

Sometimes a trip to bathroom is going to take as long as it takes and there’s nothing you can do about it. Other times, however, people will linger for no good reason. In a recent study, 69% of people admitted to using their phones in the bathroom. And nearly 75% of people said they spend longer in the bathroom because they’re using their phone.

If your kids are arguing over how much time their siblings take in the bathroom, eliminating electronics could cut down on some of those arguments. When you spot your little angel heading in clutching a tablet, replace it with an encyclopedia: They’ll find much less reason to linger, and you’ll be saving the tablet from being dropped in the toilet.

Strategy #6: Separate the spaces

If you’re planning a bathroom remodel, consider separating the essential areas of the bathroom so more than one kid can take care of their needs at a time. Breaking up the space between the sink and shower, for instance, means the kid who needs to brush their teeth doesn’t have to wait for the one in the shower to be done. By providing privacy in just the right places and offering convenient foot paths so they can get in and out without disrupting each other’s business, you can avoid fights and give your kids more freedom to manage their own routines.

Depending on how your bathroom is configured, you may need the help of an experienced bathroom remodeler who can advise you on how to optimize your space. Contact Re-Bath today for a consultation—and may peace reign forever in your kids’ bathroom.