Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Family Bedroom

I don't think it's any secret that I raise my children in a gentle and natural manner.  While there are a lot of things that I wish I could be more natural with (their diet, for example), one of the most simple and easiest things has been to create a natural sleep environment for them.

Babies are not meant to sleep alone.

There, I said it.  I don't think that anyone who puts their baby in a room all by themselves does anyone any favors.  First of all, your baby doesn't understand that she was not born in a cave surrounded by hungry Tyrannosaurus Rexes.  It is your job to teach her that she was born in a nice comfy, artificially heated, and triple insulated home.  However, dumping said baby into a cold bed all by themselves doesn't teach them this.  That would be like me handing you a Calculus book and telling you to teach yourself math.  In fact, more and more research is proving this to be a really bad idea.  A recent article in Psychology Today laid out the dangers of allowing your child to Cry It Out.

Even more so, humans are not meant to sleep alone.

Now, there's one our society doesn't seem to have a firm grasp on.  Our biological needs drive us into the beds of other humans, regardless of our age.  I sleep better knowing that my husband is next to me.  He makes me feel safe and loved.  Before I was married, I slept better knowing that my sister was in the bottom bunk.  Surely, any scary monsters would have to eat her first, thus alerting me to their presence and keeping me safe.

There's safety in numbers.  There's safety in biological reflexes.  There's safety in doing what comes instinctually.  This is why my family decided to create a Family Bedroom.

Our Family Bedroom
There are four of us, and now that the kids have reached full fledge toddler age (Miriam is now 15 months old), we added more sleeping spaces to our room.  Previously, we bedshared, which had Miriam on one side of me and Benjamin on the other.  It was getting a little cramped!  So, we side-carred the crib and shoved a twin sized captain's bed at the bottom of our Olympic Queen bed (which is 6" wider and 5" taller than an average Queen sized bed).  Now each person has their own sleeping space while remaining in the proximity of their protectors.

It's been going very well with this new set-up.  After the 1st night, which was the transition night, Benjamin has spent the whole night in his space.  This has freed up SO MUCH space in our bed that I'm actually feeling a little alone!  Miriam is still getting used to going back into the crib after she nurses (yes, we are still night-nursing), but it's not an entirely foreign concept to her.  She has always needed a little more space to sleep than Benjamin.  It's feeling so great to be able to lay them down and walk away now!  Because they're in their own safe sleep environments and they each know how to climb down from the bed on their own, I no longer need to remain in the bed with them to supervise sleep.  That has cut down on my internet and knitting time, but my household chores are getting the attention they deserve!

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  1. I love this. I have have family bedroom too. Both my daughters (Now 3.5 and 14 months) slept in bed with us until about 6 months ago. Now the older one is in her own bed but still in our room. I love having them close and I know they feel safer there with us.

  2. Without offending anyone, purely curious, how does this effect your sex life? I love the idea of family bedroom, but I'm just wondering how it would work for *everyone* in the family.

  3. Holly, no offense at all! It's a valid question that I think everyone has. First of all, our sex life hasn't changed at all in frequency after having kids. Obviously, Miriam was conceived after Benjamin was born!! Sometimes you have to get more "creative" in where you have sex, such as the living room, or the floor next to the bed, or the shower, or even kitchen counter if that floats your boat, but we have had sex in our bed while the children slept. Benjamin has always slept through, but sometimes Miriam has woken, and we just take a break and resume once she's asleep again. Neither of them are old enough to comprehend what is going on, so I'm not worried about them seeing anything. It probably helps that they both see us naked on a regular basis (showers/baths when they feel the need to interrupt into the bathroom), so they don't see us naked as being weird.

    Eventually, limits will be set on what they can see or can't see, but I believe this will happen naturally in their own development. Traditional cultures often have family members of all ages sharing sleeping spaces, and yet population continues to grow.

    Also, I currently plan on moving the two of them out of our bedroom and together into a shared bedroom once Miriam no longer needs to be parented during the night on a regular basis. I believe children let us know when they're ready for the independence.

  4. It looks so calm and safe that I almost want to move MY bed into your bedroom.

  5. Darlene,

    HAHA! We do have the room for another twin-sized bed!