Rudey's Room

When I Love the Family Bed

“Every closed eye is not sleeping, and every one eye is not seeing.”

Bill Cosby


At desperate times of minimal shut-eye, I’ve pulled my oldest into our bed, “just this once.”

We have a no-overnight-guest policy. Our party line: “Mommy and daddy’s bed is for mommy and daddy only.”

Our queen bed is reserved for my husband and me. Alone. I’m a fan of my tranquil set-up – face mask, ipad set to a white-noise machine app, plush fuzzy socks, and my husband.

It’s a kid-free zone.

At least until the sun is coming up. If the rays are flowing through the curtains, hop on it.

It sound easy peasy, but of course, we’ve battled nighttime disruptions. My oldest has wandering tendencies.

We’ve had monster spray to ward off intruders, nighttime pep talks to dismantle fears, pre-bed reminders about our nighttime plan, and reward charts to end the tiresome 3 a.m., 3:21 a.m., and again, 3:36 a.m. pop-ins.

“Mommy,” she’d turn up at the side of our bed, freaking me out of a dead sleep. “Are you sleeping? I can’t sleep. I had a bad dream.”  She’d nudge me over and start to tuck her body next to me, hoping it would go unnoticed.

I would drag myself out of bed to hug her, and escort her to her adjacent bedroom.

She’d reappear, three minutes later. Tap, tap. “Mommy, mommmmmy. I’m not tired,” and start to slide a leg into the bed.

Hug. Schlep back. Tuck in. Repeat. Repeat. Repeeeeeeeat.

“Ugh. Oh my God, just stay in your bed,” I’d say, losing patience.

It was not always model parenting. I did not always apply the “no emotion, no talking” rule of 1, 2, 3, Magic. 

Books, articles, and experts offered the same advice: Have a bedtime routine. I cringed at those words. We have structure. I’m a teacher. I thrive on structure. And we were firm – always (well, almost always) walking her back to her bed. We rarely caved to bed sharing, except during a wild thunderstorm or two.

At age 6, she comes to our bedroom most nights – generally one time to go potty in our master bathroom. She knows that is a legit reason. We’ve talked about what equates a reasonable visit.

We made a deal. When my husband travels, she can sleep with me. I started this tradition when she was five, once she stopped wandering as frequently.

It’s a special treat, a break from the norm.

“Mommy, can I come in tonight?” she asked. My husband was away on business this week.

I wink at her, indicating, “Yes, of course,” and put my finger to my mouth.

Unspoken. I am not ready to share the bed with two kids. I picture one child sleeping upside down, kicking me in the face, and the other sleeping on my stomach.  No zzz’s for mommy.

I am usually asleep when she climbs in (at her potty break), so when I go to bed, I roll a blanket in the middle of the bed to prevent her legs from kicking me. I have an uninterrupted night of sleep. I wake in the morning, often holding her hand. She is peacefully next to me with her stuffed animals and sweaty hair – La Belle au bois dormant.

It’s comforting.

To her and to me.

As my husband said to me, “I think the slumber parties are more for you than her.”

I cannot deny it. I treasure that time.

Do you let you child (children) sleep in bed with you? Regularly? On special occasions?

How do you “treat it” when your significant other is out of town?

Our other special, when-daddy’s-away, goodie: Eating Pirates Booty. He is repulsed by “fake” cheese, and we gobble it up.



2 Responses to “When I Love the Family Bed”

  1. carolhwright

    Oh my word… too funny, LOL funny… cuz it’s so familiar. We too have a kid free bed, however, when the hubs travels I’ll take in a little guest for the night. It’s a treat for them and I dig it as well. However, not always, sometimes I just don’t want them in bed with me.

    I will say… we did have a pretty significant issue with our oldest when she was about 8ish. She visited us nightly – it was getting very frustrating. Then I remember reading – children need to see mom and dad spend time together and if they only see it in bed then they’ll take it where they can get it.

    So we instituted mommy and daddy alone time every night as soon as the hubs came home. We sat on the sofa in the living room and the children were not allowed to interrupt this time. It only lasted 10 or 15 minutes but it was in a public place so they could see us together but had to respect our time alone. We just caught up on our day.

    Honestly after a few days it did the trick, no more nighttime visits. Go figure.


  2. brynnharrington

    i couldn’t agree more about the “no kids in our bed thing” (when we’re both in the bed). the constant kicking, moving coupled with the “am i going to squash or push my kid out of bed” fear makes co-sleeping impossible. the only co-sleeping arrangement i have ever understood is some friends of ours who sleep with 2-3 kids in their bed every night…but their “bed” is two adjacent king beds. i am not joking. it’s insane. anyhow, like you, when sean is traveling i let our older one climb into bed with me. now that he’s old enough to stay pretty still, i treasure the time…but he’s back to his own sheets when sean’s back in town!


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