November 4, 2011

Family Fridays: The Family Bed

Ok. I get it. It’s more fun to sleep with another person in your bed – it’s warm, it’s not scary and it’s comforting. But, sweetie, you have to sleep in your own bed. What? Why do Daddy and I get to sleep in the same bed? Um…

How do you answer that one? Gotcha.

Our daughter moved out of our bed at 3 weeks into the co-sleeper. After about another 3 or 4 weeks, I determined that she would sleep better in her own quiet room. I was right. It felt good to get some space. I mean, I spend all day with her remember. I would usually nurse her to sleep and that seemed to work out just fine until I stopped nursing at 17 months. It took a few nights to convince her that she could indeed get herself to sleep without a boob or a bottle. It was the most liberating feeling – doing your nighttime routine and then LEAVING the room while she tossed herself to sleep.

But then, something happened. I am not quite sure what it was. Maybe it was the pregnancy with baby #2 (she probably could just sense that something big was going down and she wanted to get all the snuggle time she could) or maybe it was that she was just a little older now and could address her feelings better. In any event, before we knew it, we were full on lying in her bed with her until she fell asleep. This doesn’t seem too bad I know but you don’t understand. Some nights it could take upwards of 2 hours to get this child to sleep! TWO HOURS. That is just insane. Of course, if we let her sleep in OUR bed, she would be asleep in under 10 minutes.

What is with kids and doing everything in their power to not go to sleep at night in their own bed? You know that book that was floating around the internet, Go the F**k to Sleep? Ah, man, that book was GENIUS. It gave you just enough comic relief to laugh at yourself at the 90-minute mark of putting your kid to bed. It assured you that no, you were not the only one who felt like drugging your kids every night at around 7PM. Bedtime can be brutal but we are all in the same boat.

So, you ask, why not just have her sleep in your bed with you? A gazillion people practice the Family Bed successfully. Trust me, there were nights when I tried the cry-it-out, get-back-into-bed-for-the-hundredth-time deal but after an hour of this, my tired pregnant self would just succumb to the temptation of a bed, even if it did have a bouncy toddler in it. But you see, I am one of those people who cannot have anything on top of me while I sleep – ie an arm or a leg or half of a toddler body. I need it quiet, I need it dark and I need some space. So I REALLY need my children to sleep in their own bed otherwise Miss Mommy doesn’t win any Best Parenting awards the next day.

So fast forward nine months and we have a newborn. A newborn who gets to sleep with Mommy and Daddy EVERY NIGHT. Say what?! This doesn’t seem right. Why does that little squirt get to snuggle with them all night and I am left in this scary dark room ALL BY MYSELF!? I mean, how backwards is that? And because she is such a clever little lady, she devised a new plan. Whomever it was that put her to bed (usually my husband at this point since I had my hands full with a newbie) would be subjected to a full on bear hug or arm hook. That way you were literally attached to her after she fell asleep. Ha! Impossible to escape, she thought. And she was right. My husband ended up, almost every night, surrendering to his own tired self and falling asleep with her at bedtime.

Fast forward another six months and here we are, STILL playing musical beds. Our son is the only one who starts and finishes in his own bed. The rest of us start in our own beds but inevitably wake up somewhere different. Well, actually, just my husband. He goes in to sooth our daughter when she wakes up in the middle of the night and ends up sleeping with her until morning. I am left in our bed, waking up one or two times a night to walk downstairs to nurse the infant back to sleep. By 7 or 8AM, we all reconvene together in our bed.

So, yes, I get it. I get why the idea of a Family Bed would save a lot of time, a lot of moving pieces, and a lot of child agony. But I am going to press on – I am going to fight for my right to a few hours in my bed without the lovely creatures I spend my entire day with joining me in slumber. I refuse to give up the hope that someday we will all be in our own beds. For the duration of the night. And like it. 

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