The Family Bed
We did the family bed thing. For like years. And a friend once asked me—way, way back—if this was just the way it is...and what did I do if my kids said they wanted to sleep in their own bed? Well, I said, I tell them no, because this is about my needs. She was shocked. And I was shocked that she thought I was serious. Because this, this family bed thing, that's not what it's about. It's not about me. And it's not about this we-are-doing-this-one-thing-exactly-this-way thing. It's about comfort and reliability and connection. And it's about respect and growth and maturity. And about being independent while being interdependent and recognizing that both exist at the same time. It's about knowing that it's safe so that you can sleep anywhere because you know that you can sleep right here when you need that. This is what family bed is.
It's child led. And so it ebbs and flows and changes, sometimes in the same night. And it makes a good night's sleep complicated sometimes but makes every night's sleep a good sleep because your baby is safe and your child is close, whether they are in their own room or yours.
To make this work for us—my husband and I—we got double size beds in all our kid's rooms. When they went from the crib to a bed it was not a kid bed or a training bed or a twin-it-just-fits-one bed. It was a true double that two adults could sleep in comfortably bed. Because we knew that we would be in it a lot. In each bed. Either together—as in me and him—or with one or more of our kids, possibly not with the child who's room the bed was in. And of course with an assortment of cats and dogs, too.
Our nights were busy. Sometimes our children fell asleep in our bed. Sometimes they fell asleep in their bed and made it to our bed in the night. Sometimes one was in our bed and two were in another bed. When all three were in our bed we went to another bed. There was a lot going on.
There were those moments when I would hear a child cry out or reach out or call out and I would jump from a bed and run into the hall to have to stand still for a moment and remember what bed I just left to know what bed to go to to find the child that needed a hug or a hold or a soothing night voice. And there were those moments where my husband and I, we spent the night alone in our bed with each child in their bed and I would wake in the night for just a moment to listen to the quiet of breath through the house.
And it was all good. The busyness of it and the calmness of it. The moving from place to place and the comfort of being in one space altogether.
We did this for years. We did this until they didn't do this anymore. Even when they still did. When my son came home from college one year and I woke in the night to find him asleep on the daybed next to my bed. When my daughter stays over and lays in my bed because a mommy's bed is always the most comfortable even when it's not. We do this even when we don't do this—back then and now—because what this is, this family bed thing, it is that we are here. Whether when they were little and we held them close in sweet deep sleep or now when they know that we will always be just a bedroom away even if we are many states away. We are here. We will always be here. That is what this is all about. Always.
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Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.