The Things We Do For Sleep

Life's too fun to sleep!
Life's too fun to sleep!

I used to work with a guy who told me that each night he slept in his three year-old's bed with her, while his wife shared their bed with their other child.

"Crazy man", I thought to myself.

"What a crazy family. Why would anyone choose to do that?"

Little did I know that five short years later I would get it. I would be embarking on a little bed-swapping of my own!

Our particular bed-time dance goes something like this: Our three year-old falls asleep at around 8:30pm in her own bed. Some time later my husband and I go to sleep in our double bed. By 2:00am, our daughter wakes up and comes into our bed, and I go downstairs to spend the rest of the night on the couch.

This night-time routine isn't ideal by any means; and it's not one we would have chosen for ourselves in a perfect world. Just like, I'm now sure, that my colleague and his family hadn't chosen their unusual bedtime arrangements.

But just how unusual are these arrangements? Amongst my own group of friends with young children, not many (if any at all), have the "traditional" bedtime setup of two adults sharing a bed and the kids sleeping in their own beds all night long.

Friend 1 shares a room with her two year-old while her partner sleeps alone in their double bed.

Friend 2 bed shares with her husband and their young baby.

Friend 3 sleeps in a double bed with her three year-old, her baby and her husband. (And it's a normal-sized bed, so we're not sure how they do it!)

Friend 4 often shares the marital bed with her two kids, while her husband sleeps in the spare room, and

Friend 5 and her husband are joined every morning at 1:00am prompt by their five year-old daughter.

So why do we do it? The simple answer is, of course, SLEEP.

We've all been given the well-intentioned advice that once you show a child the way and let them sleep in your bed, they will be there forever.

Depressing huh? And that's as maybe, but we all got here in pretty much the same way. We spent weeks or perhaps months of sleepless nights putting our kids back into their own beds or cots each time they woke up, only to realise that we could have spent this time sleeping!

None of us were in favour or controlled crying. Leaving our kids to "cry it out" was either too heart-wrenching for us to bear, or else we found we had the kind of child who had the capacity, stamina and enthusiasm to cry all night long.

And no matter why the children were waking; be it nightmares, fear of the dark, or perhaps loneliness, the addition of a parent into their sleeping space just did the job. And it provided us with the optimal amount of sleep given the circumstances.

Sharing a bed for sleep
Sharing a bed for sleep | Source

Call us lazy, call us stupid, but we're just doing what works for us.

A lot of the time the people who are the most critical about bed-sharing are those who don't have children, (just like me five years ago!) Or those who have never had to worry about sleepless nights because their kids have always fallen asleep the moment their little heads hit the pillow. And then slept like mini-logs until the sun was high in the sky the following day.

The fact that we are willing to forego nights alone with our partners is a testament to our desperation for a reasonable night's sleep.

Since becoming a mum I've learnt that some people don't like to talk about where they sleep, as it's not necessarily where one would expect. They might be embarrassed; fearing the judgement of other (better?) parents, and they might feel that they are the only people in the world who do things a bit differently. Little do they know that bed-hopping might be a lot more common than we think...

I say if something works for you, then do it! Especially when we're talking about sleep, which is kind of important. Parenthood is definitely an area where one size doesn't fit all.

So if you have unusual kid-related sleeping arrangements, it might help to know that you're by no means alone. And if you know somebody with an unconventional bedtime routine, try not to judge - because one day that could be you!

Sleep is the ultimate goal
Sleep is the ultimate goal | Source

Do you (or did you) bed-swap, for the sake of sleep?

  • Yes.
  • No.
See results without voting

Comments 14 comments

Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

My kids all stayed in bed (for the most part), but do you want to know why? Because they pretty much always knew I was up and around, the house was never completely dark. :) I was five months along with my son when I stopped sleeping more than three or four hours at a time, and that same son was seven years old (and his little sister four) before I finally slept one Friday-into-Saturday a "whole six hours". :) All the sleeping "bugs" tend to iron out once all children are old enough to go to school.


cashmere profile image

cashmere 7 years ago from India

I have three full sized beds in my bedroom all joint together for the three of us, my husband son and me. I sleep well knowing that both are okay with me.


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 7 years ago from London Author

Thanks for your comment Lisa. I'm sorry you had the sleep problem. Still, it sounded like it was a novel way of preventing your kids from sleeping badly; giving them the reassurance of having you awake and around! I'm glad things have got better now, and nice to know that the bugs will iron themselves out sometime down the line.


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 7 years ago from London Author

cashmere, that's also a very welcome comment, thanks. And your three beds sound like such a good idea. The reason that I end up on the couch is that my daughter, once she's in our bed, likes to occupy at least two thirds of it, leaving no room for me to comfortably sleep there! I'm glad you found this reassuring way of arranging things that works well for you.


lauryndaw profile image

lauryndaw 6 years ago

I co-slept with all four of ours, with my hubby. The oldest one never slept through the night until he was 7. He slept through the night the day his youngest brother was born. I am kind of radical for an American. Three homebirths, with a midwife. My mother thought I was insane. I just remembered that my mama was off duty at 8pm, no matter what. My dad was a funeral director and on call a lot at night. He'd come home and find me with my blanket, up against their bedroom door. He'd put me to bed and stay with me. I just never wanted my kids to be afraid and would not even try the "let them cry it out method!" My family gave me a great deal of flack, but now the kids are relatively well-adjusted teens, good students and not overly dependent on either dad or me. Do what you can to get the sleep you need! No one can function without rest. We had all four kids in our bed sometimes.


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 6 years ago from London Author

Wow, four kids in your bed, plus you and your husband. I hope you had a big bed! It sounds like you had an open-bed policy, which is lovely. Luckily my daughter has improved a lot since I wrote this hub, although she still wakes a few times sometimes.

It's great that you had three home births. I think that sounds like the ideal way to give birth, and my friend who also gave birth at home had an amazing experience. Good on you for setting an example for future American births!

That's so sad that you used to sleep up against your parents door, and sweet of your dad to stay with you, how lovely. I can understand why you decided against the cry it out method, and glad you have such great kids now. Thanks for your comments!


MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

We had 4 years of mixed up sleeps with our first but we had to as he only slept in 2 hour lots. He's now 15 and we've survived but I was a zombie back when he was a baby. Thanks for sharing, good to hear others stories about babies and their sleep (errr non-sleep) habits.


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 6 years ago from London Author

Thanks for commenting MPG Narratives. Two hour sleeps couldn't have been easy. I'm glad you survived! And that it's now all a distant memory.

I hope this hub and comments like yours make other people less anxious about their particular sleeping routines; there is no set definition of "normal". Every child and family are unique!


Gemma Sidney profile image

Gemma Sidney 5 years ago from Co Clare, Ireland

I LOVED this hub! Thanks for writing it. Everything you have written is so true. My partner and I are currently sharing our bed with our 10 month old daughter. Some nights we sleep well. Other nights we sleep not so well, but those are usually the nights when she's teething. The way I see it, we would be awake on those nights with her anyway, whether she was in our bed or not!


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 5 years ago from London Author

Hi Gemma, thanks for your lovely comment. You're right, she would probably have you up anyway, so how much nicer not to have to actually get up!


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA

I am sure all parents can relate, except for those parents who insist that their kids slept through the night from day one. It seems more comical while looking back at it once the kids get older but at the time the sleep deprivation can make you do strange things. I really enjoyed reading this hub and your sense of humor about the whole thing. I am voting up and awesome.


Christina 4 years ago

While our kids are always welcome to call out if they need us, and we often snuggle in our bed in the mornings, teaching our kids to stay in their beds is no different than teaching them to obey any other house rules. Parents are rule-setters, enforcers, ie authority. If you don't want kids in your bed, (and there are tons of reasons why it is better for everyone involved for kids to sleep in their beds) teach them not to. Explain the rules, lovingly assure them that you will always answer them whem they call, and spank them when they disobey. It's just not that hard.


kittyjj profile image

kittyjj 4 years ago from San Jose, California

We did that too when our kids were babies. :)


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 4 years ago

I remember those days. The things we do for our kids, and it doesn't get easier. As they get older, and they are out late at night, you don't sleep until they get home. From the time you are pregnant, sleeping is a luxury, but they are well worth everything they put us through. Great hub and thanks for sharing your experience. voted up all the way.

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