To Family Bed or Not to Family Bed?…It’s Cute You Think that’s a Question

photo courtesy of howtobeadad.com

When our first daughter was born, we thought it sounded terribly romantic to let her sleep in bed with us. Because how in the world were we expected to let this poor, innocent baby sleep cold and alone in a room by herself?

Fast-forward three months later when we kicked our baby out of our bed and into her own crib because how in the world can a baby who’s hardly the size of a football and can’t even hold her own head up manage to take up 95% of our kind size bed??

With my husband on one side, sleeping straight up and down, me on the other side doing the same, and our baby sleeping totally perpendicular in between us — kicking my husband and punching me — our “sleeping” situation looked a little something like this:

It’s like our daughter was saying, “hey look, guys! I’m making an “H” for “Happy we’re all not sleeping again tonight. Yay me!”

And, we were like, “okay, baby. You’re done in here. Peace out.”

Fast-forward two additional children later and, as hard as we try to kept them out of our bed (think locking our door and putting live animal traps (the kinds with the jaws) outside of their bedrooms), we can’t keep our kids out of our bed. Come around 2am, it’s like they’re suddenly magnetically repelled from their own mattresses and positively charged to ours. More specifically, they’re drawn to coming in and sleeping on my face while simultaneously kicking my husband in his. Just like the old days.

A typical night in our household looks something like this (apologies for how exhausting this will make you, but I actually don’t feel that bad):

7pm: Baby asleep in her crib

8pm: Older two girls asleep in their respective beds

10pm: I’m asleep in my bed (9:30pm if I’m lucky. I know, call me Old Grandma. It’s worth it)

12am: Middle child shuffles her way into our bed and forces her way on top of my arm to cuddle. Sometimes I notice, most of the time, I don’t. Call me neglectful. Whatever.

…and so starts a rousing game of “musical beds.”

2am: Baby wakes up, waking me up. Well, waking everything up except for my arm that my middle daughter is lying on, which now feels like it’s infested with termites and tingling to no end. I carry my sleeping (and snoring — surprisingly loud for her size) daughter back to her room and then go into the nursery to cuddle baby back to sleep.

3am: Wake up disoriented to find myself snoring twice as loudly as my daughter while slumped over in the rocking chair with baby. Attempt to put baby in her crib, only to be met with screams from the baby that can best be described as Apocalyptic. For fear of waking the other children up, I bring the baby back to bed with me…to find that my middle daughter has somehow made her way back into my bed, taking up my whole pillow and stroking my husband’s beard in his sleep. I crawl into bed with my baby on one side and my middle child on my other side — committed to sleep like a stick with my arms and legs straight down because of the forces pushing into me on either end. My only other alternative is to raise my arms straight above my head, which always sounds more comfortable than it actually is. Trust me, I try every time.

3:30am: I sigh loudly and scoot my body as stealthily as possible away from my children, wishing I had paid more attention during Mission Impossible to study how to be more ninja-like in my movements. I make my way to my middle daughter’s bed to sleep untouched.

3:45am: My middle daughter makes her way back to her bed to, once again, nudge my arm to cuddle with me in her twin-size bed.

4:00am: My baby, through bloodhound-like smelling tactics, somehow toddles her way into my daughters’ bedroom; whining and begging to be pulled up to sleep on the other side of me. There are now three of us in a twin-size bed while my husband sleeps soundly in our king. I try really hard not to dwell on this too much every time. It’s hard.

7:00am: My oldest daughter wakes up, turns on all the lights and starts slamming through her drawers to get ready for school (she really loves school), waking the rest of us up. Well, except for my husband, who’s still sleeping soundly, and most likely spread out starfish-style in our roomy king bed. Must. Not. Dwell. On. That. Fact.

Every so often, we’re lucky and everybody sleeps the whole night in their own bed. Those are the mornings when we eat Hersey Kisses for breakfast as a reward.

I always think I sleep really great on those uninterrupted nights, but my husband just told me that a couple nights ago, around 2am, I pushed my hands underneath him and tried to lift him up — thinking it was my middle daughter out of habit — and then, get this, I tried to carry him back to my daughters’ room. I don’t remember any of this.

Except I don’t feel that bad about it, because every so often, my husband deserves to wake up at 2am, too. And now it feels like an appropriate time to quote my favorite parenting quote:

“Why do they call it ‘sleeping like a baby’? It should really be ‘sleeping like a husband.’” TRUTH

Anyway, I think it’s adorable that there’s all this debate about whether or not people should have a “family bed.” Any parent already knows that if you have children, you have a family bed by default, whether you like it or not.

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Chelsea Walker Flagg

Mama, author, singer, and lover of all things random. Not afraid to drink pickle juice straight out of the jar