Help! My Teens Have to Share a Bathroom!

Guest Post



If you are a parent to teenagers, you already know that each day brings new opportunities to model life skills like sharing — especially when it comes to using the bathroom. Whether you have teen girls, teen boys or a mix, when teens have to share a bathroom issues are bound to arise. The good news is that, just like with any other household challenge, you can draw upon the wisdom of other parents to reestablish household harmony. The following helpful tips from parents of teenagers can turn a bathroom war zone into a haven for you and your teens.

Create a Schedule

One of the all-time most useful tactics to help teens successfully share a bathroom is to create a schedule. If you feel like this puts you into a role that is more “disciplinarian” than you would prefer, involve your teens. Ask them to create their own draft schedule that you can then talk through together. The schedule can include the average length of time activities like showering and shaving may take, who gets to use the bathroom first (other parents suggest alternating turns) and which tasks can be performed with more than one person in the bathroom.

Make a List

Another technique is to simply make a list. Lists create a clear picture of which activities are permitted in the bathroom and which activities can be done in their rooms or elsewhere. For instance, showering and shaving may be bathroom-specific activities, but styling hair and putting on makeup can be done in the bedroom. This way, time is freed up for others to use the bathroom for activities that can only be done there.

Add a Second Vanity

If you have same-gender teens, consider adding a second bathroom vanity so each teen can have her own space to put on makeup, style her hair and do other personal grooming activities that do not require total privacy.

Set and Enforce Boundaries

If you are still having trouble facilitating your teens’ bathroom time, the next step is setting boundaries. You could also think of this activity as reminding your teens that the Golden Rule (“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) goes both ways in your household. In other words, if they want privacy, adequate bathroom time, priority position in the bathroom queue and other privileges, they must give what they want to receive before they can have those things themselves.

Teach Limits and Consequences

Another useful tactic is to teach the concept of “limits and consequences.” This concept actually comes from a best-selling author, Dr. Henry Cloud, who has written a number of books on the topics of boundaries, integrity and human relationships. When you set limits, you teach your teens what you will and won’t tolerate. When your teens attempt to go beyond those limits, you let them know in advance what the consequences will be. Then, when they violate the limits, they have chosen to also endure the consequences. In order for this technique to be effective, you must also be willing to abide by limits and consequences yourself.

Use a Timer

When all else fails, you can always step back to the good old-fashioned timer. This technique works very well with any or all of the other techniques. For instance, if your schedule includes a list of bathroom-specific activities with estimated completion times for each, you can then set the timer when one teen goes in to shower, shave or style her hair. If one teen goes over her time limit, you can then agree on consequences for each violation.


With these techniques, you can help your teens learn how to navigate a difficult home situation — the need to share a bathroom when each teen may prefer to have his private bathroom space — and also give them a valuable skill they can draw upon at school, at work, in their relationships and throughout their adult lives.



About the Author: Blogger Marla Thomson is mom to four teenagers — two girls and two boys. Each set shares a bedroom and a bathroom. After a rocky first year, her teens learned to share with respect.


Follow Kimberly Storms (LittleCrunchy) on Google+!


  1. Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families says:

    This is a great list of tips. I know that my oldest daughter loves to spend countless hours in front of the mirror. At times, I have to kick her out of the bathroom because her brother needs in there.


  1. Bathroom Schedule – Bring it On! | Mom's Release says:

    […] anything I could print off in a jiffy…no luck with a schedule, but I did find this post by Kimberly Storms , in which she gives some great ideas, in addition to a schedule, for sibling bathroom sharing. […]

  2. Bathroom Schedule – Bring. It. On. | Blessed n Stressed says:

    […] anything I could print off in a jiffy…no luck with a schedule, but I did find this post by Kimberly Storms,  in which she gives some great ideas, in addition to a schedule, for sibling bathroom sharing. […]