When I take the time to step back and examine in my life, I am often surprised by the mom I am versus the mom I thought I would be.
Before I had kids, I had it all figured out. Take sleeping, for example. I thought that if your kid doesn’t magically sleep through the night by the time they’re 6 months old, you just have to let them cry it out once or twice, then Ka-POW! They’ll automatically reset and sleep through the night every night forever on after that.
Ha. Haha. Hahaha.
God used my second child to teach me that you can do all you want to try and get your kid to sleep through the night, but sometimes some kids just take awhile. (31 months and counting…) Our solution to our son not sleeping was simple – have another kid! We figured we weren’t sleeping anyway, so it would be the perfect time to add on a newborn.
Our third child – a daughter – was born on a spring-like day in late January. True to how we parented our first two, we kept her in our room for the first few months so that the middle of the night feedings would be a bit easier.
She was a pretty typical baby, waking a few times a night to eat. This was fine, but our son was still getting up! Sometimes they would be up at the same time, and sometimes they’d be so kind as to alternate their wakings. This really made the nights feel tough!
Desperate to get more sleep, we moved our son back into our room. Our daughter’s crib was placed on my side of the bed. We put our son’s toddler bed on my husband’s side of the bed. It looked ridiculous. We basically had mattresses running the entire length of our room.
But you know what? We started getting more sleep. My son could be soothed back to sleep quickly when my husband placed a hand on his back and reassured him he was safe and we were there with him. This definitely was a step up from getting up in the middle of the night, going to his room, sitting in the rocking chair with him until he fell back asleep, then trying to quietly sneak out without waking him.
This arrangement went on for a couple weeks and we started to feel bothered that our oldest daughter was not with us. She was still in her own room. We weren’t sure if it was fine with her or if she felt left out, so we extended an invitation to her.
I approached her one day and asked if she’d like to sleep in our room that night. She responded with wide eyes and said, “You mean all night? I could stay in there all night and if I get scared I could just look over and see you!?!”
She wanted to go for it. We made a bed for her on the floor because we couldn’t fit her mattress in, there was just no more space! We left her bed up in her room and told her that she could switch between rooms whenever she wanted.
She hasn’t spent a single night in her room since.
So now everyone in my family sleeps in our bedroom. I never thought this would be the case, but it happened! Progressively it happened, and each step made so much sense.
There are some drawbacks, of course. We have to stagger naptimes and bedtimes so that everyone can get to sleep with the least amount of crying possible. Occasionally the baby will wake the other kids in the night with her crying. And the hardest thing for me is that I no longer have a space that’s just mine. Well, I guess the bedroom always belonged to me AND my husband. Sharing it with the kids has been tough because I don’t have a space to retreat to that’s kid-free. As an introvert, I really value quiet solitude. I’m having to find that space in other areas of our home, or sometimes even away from home.
Most nights I lay my head down on my pillow and my heart is just so FULL having all of my loved ones near. I hear the breathing of all my babies and I think I might explode with joy and gratitude. Occasionally I’ll flop into bed and confide in my husband, “How are we going to undo this arrangement?”
I know that this is for a season. I look forward to the day when my kids are teens and we fondly remember these days when we all slept together in our family bedroom.