I love being surrounded by love that is manifested physically in the form of my strong husband. Half asleep, I reached out to touch his shoulder, but can’t move. I become conscious that I’m pinned down by the other love manifestations.
One happens to be snoring on the back of my neck and has his left leg thrown across my waist. The other has stolen my pillow and lays in a cozy fetal position with her knees jammed into my belly.
There’s yet another love manifestation stretched horizontally across the bottom of our bed. Even in my sleep I must have been aware of his presence because my legs and hips are cramped from my forced fetal position all night.
Reaching for my husband would only disturb the beautifully tangled web of warm bodies that engulf me in our family bed.
As I lay there trying to figure out how to escape so that I can stretch my muscles, my mind drifts back to 1998. We only had two children then-a 5yr old boy, a 9 month old boy and a full size bed.
I was still nursing the 9 month old. On certain nights the five-year-old didn’t want to sleep in his big boy’s room all by himself, that was equiqqed with his bed, a crib and enough toys to occupy 20 children. He once cried, “You get to sleep with someone and the baby gets to sleep with two someone’s, why can’t I have some someone’s too?”
I was an exhausted mother (I still am), who was with my children 24/7; homeschooling, field trips, shopping, everywhere, together all the time! I loved it, however, like most moms I was naturally in tuned with every move and sound of our young children so I wanted a few hours during the night of not being surrounded by their constant stimuli.
Torn between my desire to carve out a few hours to myself and my desire to constantly be there with my children I told my husband we need a family sized bed.
I remember shopping for one and being appalled at the price tags! ”Who wants to sleep on top of $2000? Do you know what I can do with $2000!?” With child #2 strap to my chest I grabbed the hand of child #1 and stormed out of the first store. Then the second store. And by the time I left the third store I realized that if we wanted a family bed we were going to have to cough up lots of money. As I walked into the fourth store I said a prayer because we didn’t have money to cough up.
Eventually, the sales lady escorted me to the back of the store and showed me a discontinued king-size PosturePedic mattress that was still wrapped in the manufacture’s packaging. It had been discounted so many times it was now down to $500. PRAISE THE LORD!
15 years later we now have added three more children to the mix and they have all been allowed to come in and sleep with us whenever they desire.
Co-Sleeping, sleep sharing, family bed or whatever you call it, has proven to have great benefits for parents and children. Babies who co-sleep have:
- Lower Stress hormones
- higher levels of growth hormones and enzymes (these are necessary for brain and heart growth)
- More physiological stability which includes more stable temperatures, more regular heart rhythms, and fewer long pauses in breathing than babies who sleep alone.
In the long-term follow up studies they have found that children who shared a family bed:
- were happier
- less anxious
- had higher self-esteem
- were less likely to be afraid of sleep
- had fewer behavioral problems
- tended to be more comfortable with intimacy
- were generally more independent as adults
After being on the road, speaking 3 to 5 days at a time, I want to fall into my bed as soon as I walk into the house. As the husband and my older son bring in my luggage I listen to the excited chatter of the younger children. They follow me on to the bedroom tripping and talking over each other and finishing each other sentences. I wash, change into pj’s and sit up in the bed all while asking questions and laughing at their stories.
After a while I send them to their rooms to put on their pj’s and it allows me time to hear from the 15yr old. He lays across the foot of the bed and shares the stories about his week.
Sooner or later, one by one, usually starting with the little girl, they will return to the room talking, laughing, kicking the soccer ball and wrestling (two no’s no’s in my room but they can’t resist). One may read to me as another walks on my back until…I find myself waking up cramped and entangled by a web of warm bodies.
Letting the children co-sleep in our bed, periodically here and there, was an idea that I thought would benefit them as babies but the family bed has proven to be a wonderful way of bonding with the college kid, high schooler, middle schooler & elementary kids years later!
My biz-tip for mompreneurs is to invest in a family bed.