Family in a bed
A ‘no kids’ policy makes sense – until you have them, says Karin Schimke.
So. The Family Bed. Yes? No? Sometimes?
While this is one of those debates that usually ignites firecrackers, with the yeses and the nos furiously defending their quarters, I suspect that most parents end up somewhere in the middle of those two, sometimes grudgingly and sometimes happily sharing their bed with offspring.
Before I had children I had a clear policy on the family bed. ‘No way in hell!’ sums it up. Four weeks into motherhood and if you’d told me that putting a puff adder under the bed was likely to help us all get more sleep, I would happily have acquired a puff adder.
So when my husband gently suggested that if we just left the baby between us after the night feeds, we’d probably all get more sleep, a tiny part of my old self huffed indignantly for about one second and then I collapsed on the pillow with a baby still merrily sucking at my exhausted chest.
And that’s how we came to be family ‘bedders’.
When Number Two came along, we merely bought a bigger bed.
Which just goes to prove that just because there’s a baby in the bed, doesn’t mean you aren’t getting action. This is usually the most urgently whispered fear when the topic comes up and people discovered we had – oh horror – children in our bed.
A matter of survival
It was survival then. And it was quite fun survival. Instead of all of us being slightly on edge, we would wake up happy and relaxed in one bed and there’d be time for snuggling and giggling.
Now that the kids are almost 8 and 11 I can’t really call the fact that they often end up in bed with me ‘survival’.
The policy I once had – the one about no kids in the bed, the one that gave me away as a completely inexperienced nincompoop – has been whittled down to this: everyone goes to sleep in their own bed every night.
If anyone wakes and wants to climb in with me, well, the bed is big and I don’t see why not. It doesn’t happen every night. In fact, these days when it does, I feel quite glad, because I know this won’t go on forever.
Last night I had to go out and when I got back at 10 my son must have heard me and he woke up. Bleary eyed he pointed vaguely in the direction of my bedroom and said: ‘Can I...?’ and I nodded.
My mother said my daughter had requested I wake her when I came in because she’d missed me. When I’d finished reading my book, I went to her room and fetched her to my bed (something I never do) and then I lay between them, a hand on each warm thigh and felt quite happy to have them there, because I had missed them too.
Later my daughter sat up and addressed someone in her dream: ‘Don’t forget the box.’ Later still, when I got up to go to the loo, my son said: ‘Mom, is there still place on your team?’
Yup. There’s always place on my team – and in my bed - for my kids.
Is your bed a family bed or is it a no-go-zone for the kids?
Read more by Karin Schimke
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