Sisters get all the glory. They’re in-built BFFs and take turns being bridesmaids. They borrow each other’s clothes and the older sister always teachers the younger one about periods and sex. Apparently.

I don’t have a sister. Instead, I have a lot of brothers. I always liked that about myself, as if I had anything to do with it.

I didn’t understand sisters; didn’t understand the way they could be screaming at each other over a pair of jeans one second, cuddling on the sofa the next. I would watch my friends fight with their sisters, hatred streaming out of their mouth, their faces red and vicious, completely unembarrassed by my presence. I would watch them storm out and slam the door, only to reappear ten minutes later and ask if they could borrow a phone charger, like nothing had ever happened.

People with sisters know how to fight. They know how to speak their mind. To let their emotions fly out of their mouth, rather than swallowing them whole.

Instead, I had three older brothers. Mostly, we conformed to stereotypes: they played lots of sports and I wore pink and complained when I was made to watch aforementioned sports. We never fought. Well, we did. But our fighting involved them tickling me until I cried or holding me, fully clothed over the pool while I screamed bloody murder. I wasn’t a defenseless kid, I would bite down until my entire dental records were ingrained on their skin, or pinch them until they let go of me. Our fighting was physical and fast and playful and almost always ended with our mother telling us to be nice to each other.

I liked our way of fighting. Actually, I still like our way of fighting, but it got harder as we got older and it became unacceptable for adults to throw each other in the pool or bite each other’s forearms.

monica-and-ross

These days, when we fight, our tactic is avoidance. We screen each other’s phone calls or let texts go unanswered until we’ve forgotten what we were cross about in the first place. We stew, wait for it to pass, put it aside. My family don’t work ‘through’ things, we work around them. I am always semi in awe of the people who are able to express their feelings. Those who deal with conflict head-on rather than running around the back and checking to see if the coast is clear before reemerging.

To be honest, my brothers and I rarely fight anymore. Mostly, they feel like my team mates. People who look like me and sound like me and remember the time our dad got airlifted out of the Australian desert because he had a headache that he was convinced was a tumour (it wasn’t).

We aren’t close in the way sisters often are, we don’t talk about relationships and we are perfectly content to let our mum collect and pass on our news, like some sort of loving, all-purpose media outlet.

But we are close in a different way. They call every so often just to make sure I’m doing ok. They are protective whenever I introduce them to a boyfriend. They randomly send me texts littered with emojis that I take to mean, ‘Hey, I’m thinking of you.’ They let me go halves on a birthday present for my dad if I can’t think of anything good to buy him. Having three older brothers feels a bit like having three bodyguards who each call you by a different childhood nickname.

Maybe, if I had had a sister, I would have been better at speaking my mind. I would have learnt how to deliver that verbal blow that sisters seem so adept at doing.

Instead, I had brothers. So I know exactly the spot on someone’s arm to pinch that will cause a bruise the next day and I know that there are a million ways to say ‘I love you’ without ever using the words. And who knows, maybe that’s just as useful.

Whether your dream bedroom is pretty and pink like Betty’s in Riverdale, or sleek and chic like Serena’s in Gossip Girl, we’ll bet there’s one thing you definitely don’t want in it – your sister.

But sometimes you don’t have a choice when it comes to sharing a room, and it can be pretty frustrating. No privacy, conflicting sleep schedules and having to live among all their junk does not make for harmonious sisterly love!

Sharing a room is not ideal, but it’s also not impossible. These top tips will help you keep the peace.

1. Remember it’s not forever

First things first, no matter how annoying your sister is and how much you feel like screaming every time you’re in your room together, remember it’s only temporary. One day you’ll have your very own room and you can do what you like with it. You could start a Pinterest board to plan exactly how it’ll look – it’ll give you something to focus on when she starts snoring again or after you’ve tripped over her shoes for the millionth time.

2. Don’t be petty

It might be tempting to literally draw a line down the middle of the room but that just makes things awkward for everyone. Agree that you’re both allowed to move around freely – within reason, of course. Sprawling across her bed because yours is covered in laundry isn’t cool.

3. Schedule some private time

Privacy pretty much goes out the window when you share a bedroom, but it’s important you get some time to yourself occasionally. Try striking a deal for some regular ‘me time’; perhaps she could watch her favourite TV show in the lounge each week, while you could take the dog for a walk on a designated evening?

4. Share and share alike

Set some ground rules for sharing your stuff. It’s probably a bit unreasonable to flat out refuse to lend her any of your clothes, because chances are she’s got something you’ll want to borrow, too. Agree that any borrowing requests must be made with plenty of notice – no sneaky pinching!

5. Keep it clean

Living with a slob is a clean freak’s worst nightmare – but it’s not much fun living with someone who has tantrums over mug coasters, either! Try to keep your mess to a minimum, and schedule some time once or twice a month to give your room a good clean together, so you feel like you’re putting in equal effort.

6. Respect each other’s sleep schedules

Sleep deprivation is horrible, and if you’re not getting to sleep early enough or you’re being woken up too early, you’re going to be tired, cranky and miserable. Decide on ‘quiet hours’ – say 10pm until 7am – where you both make the effort to keep noise to a minimum. Ask your parents to pick up some low wattage light bulbs the next time they do the weekly shop too so you’re not blinding each other if you need the light on in the night.

7. Make your space your own

You’re probably never going to agree on a décor theme, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put your stamp on your area of the room, whether that’s draping fairy lights around your headboard or putting a funky rug down beside your bed. There’s loads of shared-room interiors inspo Pinterest to get you started.

8. Get your parents onside

Chances are, your parents aren’t super happy about you having to share a room either, simply because they know it’s going to result in arguments now and then. But at times it’ll feel like they don’t care about your situation – after all, they chose to share a room. But if something is really bothering you and you’ve already tried talking to your sister, speak to your parents about it. Keep a cool head and explain that you’d like their help in sorting out the problem. It’s much harder for them to say no to something if you’re reasonable about it.

9. Remember it’s no fun for them either

It’s easy to focus on how much it sucks for you to have to share a room, but your sister probably isn’t that happy about it either. Next time you’re about to lose your temper with her, take a deep breath and try to remember that you’re probably just as annoying in her eyes. You’re both in this together, which means sometimes just letting things go.

10. Enjoy it

Sharing a room with your sister can be a right pain, but it can also be a lot of fun. You’ve got someone there when you’ve had a bad day, someone to chat with late into the night and someone to have a giggle with 24/7 – you’ll never feel lonely. Make the most of it – you might miss it one day!

Image: Hailey Hamilton

I am a sucker for romance. I have watched pretty much every two-and-a-half star romantic comedy there is. I’ve pined along with Elizabeth for Mr Darcy, even though I still think he’s a grumpy arsehole. I’m the first person my friends call when they have a new crush because I know all the right moments to ‘ohhh’ and ‘ahhh’ at their story. 

So it wasn’t exactly surprising that in the early years of being a teenager I fancied my friends’ older brothers. Not just one of my friends’ – I fancied ALL of their older brothers.

I didn’t discriminate on anything so trivial as age or appearance or sexual orientation. If you were my friend between the ages of 10 and 15 and you had an older brother, I fancied him. There is literally no exception to this rule.

I went to an all girls’ school from 12 to 15, or what I refer to as ‘The Oestrogen Years’. While other girls in my school would go to dances on Friday nights and meet boys, I went to debating and ate chips in the park with my teammates. On the bus home from school, other girls would flirt with the boys at the back of the bus, while I would sing loudly along to 90s songs with one of my friends.

I was scared of boys I didn’t know. My tongue would go thick in my mouth and I would end up shouting at them by mistake.

But my friends’ brothers? They were boys I knew. I saw them on a semi-regular basis, but never had to spend time with them one-on-one, which as far as I was concerned was the ideal amount of interaction.

My friends would drop crumbs of information about them – they liked maths, they went to see the new Star Wars movie, they were allergic to yoghurt – that I would feverishly collect with the same enthusiasm most people reserve for actual hobbies. I would use these pieces of information to adapt my daydreams of our eventual relationship to ones that included Yoda or excluded Yeo Valley.

Naturally, I had elaborate fantasies about how our relationship would go.

I imagined watching a movie, something funny and probably featuring Owen Wilson, when his arm subtly started edging closer to mine. The completely wonderful and secret kissing, where our teeth would never, ever, knock together. The conversation with my friend who would give me her complete blessing because she knew I was excellent and her brother was excellent and she wanted us both to be excellent together. Obviously.

I imagined the declaration of love that would make me weak in the knees. The eventual Loss Of Virginity. The wedding, where of course my friend would be my maid of honour and make a hilarious, yet deeply moving speech about how we were meant for each other.

I’m almost certain these boys had no idea I existed. A fact that one of them confirmed when I did eventually kiss him, a few years after I emerged from my obsessive bubble.

“When did you start fancying me?” I asked, hoping he would reveal that he had been pining for me for years. That my obsession with him wasn’t one-sided, but rather completely requited.

“I dunno,” he replied. “When you got hot?”

Yep, he was a regular Casanova. This answer was also unhelpful in a myriad of ways.

Firstly, it implies I wasn’t always hot. Which is obviously false. Secondly, even if I wasn’t hot (which I was), my personality is rockin’. How dare he overlook my passion for US politics, my weakness for videos of unlikely animal friends and my admirable loyalty to both of these topics throughout all the years he’s known me? Thirdly, it gives me no clear time line. Lastly, it was wildly unromantic and not at all like the script I had prepared in my head.

Being in love with your friends’ brothers can be difficult. Especially when you’re in love with eight of them simultaneously. And in real life, it might not work out anything like in your head. But hey, a girl can still dream.

Call me a Humbug, but I find Christmas a bit intense. The epitome of “organised fun”, extended family members are shoved together in a confined space for the best part of 24 hours, fed copious amounts of food and alcohol (if over 18, of course), and expected to get along like a house on fire.

Well, in my eyes, the house might as well be on fire. It’s like a pressure cooker and eventually someone is bound to explode.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore my family. But for the other 360 days of the year, we’re apart more than we’re together. Friends, hobbies and even school or a Saturday job offers both parties space to B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Christmas on the other hand, offers no such respite. There is no escape.

But with your parents having pulled out all the stops to make Christmas special – cooking all the food and buying all the presents, most likely – there’s only one viable target left to take your festive frustrations out on: your sibling(s).

I have a little brother who is four years younger than me; a sizeable age gap that means growing up we never had much in common. For a large chunk of time, he was an energetic young boy and I was a terrible teen with an extremely short fuse. In fact, my so-called ‘teenage’ mood swings lasted longer than my teenagedom – starting at 10 and ending in my early 20s. A recipe for a decade of disaster.

So whether a full-blown barney or an unspoken Cold War, many Christmases have been peppered with feelings of animosity.

It’s the little things that are intensified over Christmas that usually led to a bust-up. Growing up my brother never helped cook or clean up and spent all of his time on his Playstation rather than speaking to family. The fact that my mother let him get away with doing nothing under the ‘boys will be boys’ excuse stoked my feminist fire early on, leading to resentment as I loaded the dishwasher for yet another year. For him, I must have seemed bossy and huffy as hell, while he prefers a far more chilled and relaxed existence.

Now, he spends most of the time staring down at his phone and still does very little to help. But there’s the added bonus of trying to coax me into talking about politics, which we couldn’t be more opposed on.

But our disagreements haven’t always been so ‘adult’. When I was about ten years old, two cousins and I opened the wrapping paper to find three Power Ranger costumes (pink for me, blue and black for the boys). We were ecstatic. My brother, being too small for the Power Ranger costumes, got a Batman one instead and I remember being LIVID about him insisting on playing with the rest of us, not to mention completely ruining the photos. I mean, since when did Power Rangers and Batman fight side-by-side?

I used to think I was alone in feeling like this about siblings, but growing up and talking about my feelings with friends, I’ve realised that it’s a pretty common feeling. Most of us have siblings, the average family has two children (give or take a few decimal points). So whether it’s a half or step sibling, older or younger – or (God forbid!) both – it can be hard to navigate a small space in an intense time period such as Christmas.

So here are my top tips on how to get over the Christmas sibling rage:

1. Walk away, literally… Go upstairs and sit on your bed. Take some deep breaths and count to ten. Count to 20 or 30 if you need you – however long it takes for you to calm down and realise it’s not very festive to hit someone round the head with a turkey leg.

2. Keep yourself busy… Nothing takes your mind off petty arguments like playing with the dog, a new baby cousin, or talking to your Grandad about the war. Suddenly everything has a bit of perspective.

3. See similarities in your differences… Realise that your sibling is probably also feeling the pressure to have a super fun awesome time.

4. Do it for someone else… If your parents are anything like mine, they’ll LOVE Christmas. Any excuse to dust off the fancy plates and get the boardgames out. If you have a full-blown barney over the Radio Times, you’ll ruin their Christmas, too. And you don’t want to do that.

5. Remember: it’s their Christmas, too… So if you grow irritated by the fact that they’d rather slob in their PJs playing on their new Playstation rather than talk to family, leave them to it. Christmas may mean a different thing to you than it does to someone else – even if you are related.

6. Know that it can get better… For all our differences, my brother and I have turned a corner. Looking back, we were both to blame for our clashes or disagreements. For the most part, growing up and reflecting allows you to work beyond your differences and realise what is more important in life: family and unity (and pigs-in-blankets).

@Brogan_Driscoll

The only thing worse than having a little sister who adores you and constantly copies you, is having a little sister who has recently decided that you’re less cool than a school assembly about litter.

When I was 11, my 10-year-old sister Beth was my one-girl fandom. I’d dread school break times, as she’d rush towards me in the playground and wrap her arms around my waist like a rubber ring – I’d wriggle and struggle, grumbling as she slowed me down and stopped me from finding a dinner lady to complain to. She made up songs, stories and secret worlds, searching out the weirdness in everything, always spotting something magical amongst the small and unseen.

She filled our shared bedroom with ice cream cartons full of snails, which she ‘raced’ across our garden – and she treated her tiny friends with intense tenderness. When I complained about our new roommates and said it was “disgusting” to sleep with snails, she’d say “Shhhh! They can hear you!” She was passionate, she was sincere, and she always wanted to join in.

But I was horrible to her.

I didn’t want her playing with my perfume or reading my magazines, because she was a ‘baby’. I was too busy talking about boys (not to boys, let’s not be crazy) to be bothered about her snails.

* * * * *

Then, as we both headed towards our teens, something shifted. I guess I got what I deserved.

Beth became cooler than me – and suddenly, I became the annoying one. She found new friends. We started listening to different music. While she’d once begged to be involved when I went on about which song was number one, she started bragging about being a fan of alternative bands, and told me that I was pathetic for listening to what was in the charts. She used to say I looked like a princess when I wore a pretty dress. I was “way too girly” and “clearly had no personality or any individuality”.

I would have given anything – the £57 in my Halifax savings account, my best nail polish, the pale pink Topshop aviator jacket I’d spent months saving up for – to get babyish Beth back. I would have taken her to every single party I was invited to, and she could have held onto my waist all night long. But she’d rather wear a dreaded princess party dress in public than be seen with me.

* * * * *

Beth seemed so tough and together that I was stunned when I walked past her room one morning and heard muffled sobs. I thought she said my name. I must have been imagining things. Then she said it again. I gently pushed the door open.

“Don’t tell Mum,” she murmured, and my brain immediately exploded with terrifying thoughts about what might be wrong. “But I’ve started.”

My first reaction was relief that nothing horrible had happened. But when I looked at Beth’s face, I realised that to her, it was horrible. Her body was changing, and it had frightened her.

I’d started my periods over a year ago, and was starting to find the rhythm of my body quite comforting, from the familiar ache in my lower back, a couple of days before I was due, to that feeling of prickly tearfulness that disappeared the moment the period arrived.

“It’s OK.” I held my arms out to her. “At the moment, it feels like nothing in the world will ever be OK again. But this is the worst part, I promise.” She stayed stiff for a second, then hugged me back.

“You really do have to tell Mum, though. She’ll know exactly what to do.”

We weren’t exactly BFFs again – and as we grew up and got older, we became even more different, and even better at antagonising each other.

But from that moment, we were in a conspiracy of two. A slightly awkward tag team who knew exactly how to wind each other up, but who would always share hot water bottles. Even on the occasions when I was barely speaking to Beth, I’d always offer her my last two Nurofen.

Sisters are strange, and even though we’re both grown up, I’ll never stop being thrilled and bewildered by the fact that Beth can be simultaneously so similar and so different from me. When we were on the brink of our teens, those differences seemed like a huge divide. But learning that our bodies worked in the same way, even if our minds didn’t, brought us back together again.

@NotRollergirl

Image: Getty