Retiring the Family Bed

Nap in the Family Bed, Spring 09

I never had a time line in mind for how long our babies would sleep with us. As long as they needed to has been our M.O., with the caveat that we could gently guide their choice to transition to their own beds when the timing felt right to us as well.

Since I night-weaned in March, I have been sleeping with Sadie to avoid Izzy’s middle-of-the-night cries for “mok” which would continue even two or three months after night-weaning if I returned to the bed. Sleeping with Daddy, she might wake once in the middle of the night and be perfectly satisfied with a drink of water.

Was I tempted to go back to night-nursing knowing how much she wanted the Mama connection? Oh my gosh yes. Every day. And I had learned from multiple health practitioners that I was dangerously depleted and determined it was time to put my own oxygen mask on (remember the airplane emergency instructions I wrote about several months ago?….)

So I slept with Sadie — in her twin bed with her, in a twin mattress next to her bed, or in our guest room, depending on our mood.  The twin bed set up perpendicular to Sadie’s held an invisible placeholder sign that read, “For Izzy.”

And once a week or so over the last few months, I would say to our Littlest nugget, “Izzy, this bed is special for you when you’re ready. Would you like to sleep in it tonight next to Sadie?”

“No,” was the standard answer in her little chronically congested, grovelly voice.

This weekend, we got a baby sitter and experienced the luxury of dinner and a movie at Alamo Draft House. Holy Fun. I mentioned to the baby-sitter on our way out that she could offer the twin mattress on the floor next to Sadie as an option to Izzy, but that she had yet to say, “Yes.”

We got home from our date and our sitter looked at us with a confident twinkle in her eye.

We said, “How were they?”

“They’re sleeping together in Izzy’s bed,” she replied as she threw her hand up in the air for a high five.  “Izzy’s choice!”

Amazing. Part of me is still in shock.

Between both of our little girls, we’ve gone almost four years now sleeping with a baby or small child next to us.  We’ve had a little “side car” to extend the bed, using the equivalent of a love seat with a crib mattress on top.

After five nights in a row of the girls either sleeping together or in their own beds — we made it official and put our room back together the way it was when we first bought our house.  It’s a bittersweet transition for all. To aid in supporting their joyful discovery of sleeping in their own beds and to mop up my own conflicting emotions about it all, I’ve been answering “sure” to almost every special sleep request the last few nights. Sleep in a swimsuit? Sure Izzy — sounds fun! You want to sleep nude, Sadie? If that feels good to you, sure!

A new chapter unfolds with my husband and I sharing a bed again. (Photo inclusion not appropriate for family audience.) How ’bout that.

Nudie Rudy

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6 Responses to “Retiring the Family Bed”

  1. Mom says:

    I love it! (Not as much as you, I’m sure!) I also love Izzy “sweeping in a sim soot”.
    🙂 Mom

  2. chelsea says:

    oh, yay! we also recently made the transition when we bought bunk beds for the boys! of course, we are sleeping on a futon mattress on the floor in their room…and everyone is in the double bed by 6am (ugg! that is crowded)…but still…it *feels* like progress:)


  3. Elizabeth says:

    We’ve actuallyreturned to the family bed out here on the road. It’s so much easier than the pack and play inhe hotel room alternative. No mid night crys to be picked up, and Lisel is sleeping like crazy! We’ll see about the transition when we get home..who knows, maybe we’ll just gt.a bigger bed. I love the idea of giving her her own choice. And I think it would certianpy be easier if she had the choice to sleep in her own big girl bed. Thanks!

  4. Heather says:

    Awww I remember those days. We went from having a BED room, to bedrooms (in the more normal way that one might think of ‘bedroom’). It was a bittersweet transition for us. I loved the suggestion I read once about moving sibs from the family bed into bed together. It worked well for us (my boys still share a bed). I’m glad that everyone is adjusting!

    (I found you via a Google search for top ten attachment parenting lists, BTW, and will be linking to you!)

  5. Darby says:

    I am in the same boat as you. I could’ve written this post! My boys have been sleeping in the same bed for about a month now. It’s amazing! There’s a pic of them sleeping on my FB page…so cute!

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