Ever since we first became parents nearly five years ago, we’ve always had a family bed, whether we wanted to or not. Our babies have all been happiest snuggled up next to us at night time, breastfeeding is just so much easier when you don’t even have to sit up to do it, and even as they’ve got bigger there’s usually at least one of them that wants to spend part of the night in our bed. It’s not something that I want to fight against, if there’s one thing that I can do without in my life it’s parenting battles right? I’m happy as long as everyone is getting enough sleep and for us, bed sharing seems to be the easiest way for that to happen.
The only times that it’s been a bit of a problem is when we’ve had babies that are feeding through the night. It would always seem to happen that I would have just settled Ernie back to sleep and one of the girls would then crawl in and wrap herself around me, making it difficult for me to fall asleep. Or when Greta was born and Mabel was a toddler, she would wake up and come in, see her sister was awake and decide it was play time, squealing ‘Baby! Baby!’. It’s meant that Carl and I have spent many many nights sleeping in separate rooms, usually me in our bed with one or two kids and him either squashed up into a toddler bed or on the sofa with the other.
It wasn’t ideal at all, but when you have three children in under four years, you kind of just have to cope whatever way you can and know that it’s only for the short term. We’ve tried different bedtime routines, different combinations of sleeping arrangements, but what it boils down to is that our kids like sleeping close to us, and in the middle of the night you will just sleep wherever you need to if it means everyone will go back to bed. If lying next to my children while they sleep will make them feel safe, then I am perfectly happy to do that for as long as they need me to.
Now that Ernie’s not breastfeeding any more, things are a bit easier. He still wakes up overnight don’t get me wrong it’s a complete myth that breastfeeding causes night wakings, but he at least goes back to sleep quicker and easier these days. The kids all start off the night in their own beds, but if they wake up in the night then they will usually appear at the side of ours wanting to crawl in and go back to sleep.
Now that’s no problem with me, usually we all fall straight back to sleep and it’s no big deal. But when it happened to be all three children wanting to climb in on the same night, well our old faithful standard double bed just wasn’t cutting it and even the cot we had attached to the side just wasn’t working anymore. We were spending half the night ferrying sleeping children back to their own bed because another one had woken up and needed their spot in our bed! So we’ve upgraded to a superking. And it’s 180cm across of pure bliss. Sometimes, kids get in bed with us and I don’t even realise they’re there until the morning, that’s how much space there is.
A couple of days ago we had the first morning when all five of us woke up in the family bed together and it was so nice to actually have the space to be able to do that without anyone being grumpy because they’re being pushed out or someone’s laying on their arm. It takes up a lot of space in the room but one of the best things about living in an old Victorian house is having a big master bedroom with a bay window so we’re not cramped at all. We’re still in the middle of decorating our bedroom and I was going to wait until it was all finished to share it on here but then I thought why wait for perfect eh? This is happening now and I want to share it now.
Yesterday morning the kids were bouncing and rolling all over the bed. I took these photos and when I looked at them I thought…
‘Well, you don’t get much more perfect than that!’
So I thought I would share how a family bed works for us and our philosophy which is –
If you keep getting woken up by your kids coming into bed with you at night…
Just buy a bigger family bed!
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