Friday, March 02, 2007

Let 'Em Sleep on the Floor

The New York Times has a story about couples being driven from their beds by their young children. Apparently there is a thriving business in the upper middle class for "sleep consultants" who come up with conditioning regimes to get the little darlings to stay in their own princess and airplane fantasy beds. None of which the tired couples in the article found very helpful. Mostly, the parents report giving up fighting their kids for the big bed – the parents get used to going off to the children's beds in the middle of the night and sleeping there. One of the predictable effects of this strategy is that the couples do not have sex very often.

Faced with the same problem, Mrs. G. and I hit upon a different solution when our offspring were little, which is cheaper and lazier than the sleep consultant approach. For most of the pre-school years, we did not have an "up bed," but instead slept on a mattress on the floor. When the kids came in for comfort in the middle of the night, they would be content to sleep on the floor next to us, with only a few inches of elevation separating us. The inches were few, but precious: they meant the difference between a good night's sleep for mom and dad, and wearing nightly interruptions.

When the youngest was a reliable sleeper, everyone got up beds.

I don't know if this will work for you; I give it to you as free advice, and would welcome comparative stories.


Unknown said...

We don't do the family bed thing. The few times our kids have slept with us, I end up black and blue from little kicking feet. I recommend the "crib tent" -- google this miracle product. This is what is keeping our youngest in her own bed.

Gruntled said...

Ah yes, "put a lid on it" -- in the nicest way.
In our old church they had amazing stacked cribs in the nursery, with barred sides that lifted up like a garage door, then latched shut. We thought of them as "tiger cages." Very effective, though.

Unknown said...

She likes the tent. She calls it a "princess canopy" and I'm not doing anything to disabuse her of that notion. It keeps her from climbing out of the crib and hurting herself and the whole family has a better night's sleep. :)

Michael Stringer said...

We also use the 'pallet on the floor' method. It works well. Our little girl's bed only gets used by occasional guests.

We were having real luck with the transition to her bed until we had another child and he sleeps with us every night. Once he came along, we had to give up completely on the notion of having 'our own space.'

I must say it was comforting to read your post, Gruntled. It's always good to know there are others out there working through these issues.

Mama V said...

We co-slept with our son for 8 months or so, then transitioned him to a crib (in our bedroom still) when we could no longer trust that he wouldn't crawl off the bed during naps/at night. He's 16 months now, and we're starting to think about having him move to his own room. Mom and Dad are having a hard time letting go... I guess I never expected a full-night's sleep to be part of the deal!

We like the floor idea and have considered it, but sadly the space underneath our bed serves as much-needed storage too important to give up! I have a feeling we might be doing some Spring cleaning soon to finally be able to make a down-bed...

At the same time, maybe it's time for couples to find more creative times and places to have sex... Or at least the sacred bed issue seems to be some of what's really behind some the controversy of co-sleeping these days... The article reveals how busy our working lives are, leaving the bed for rare and previous couple-time -- maybe we need to work less and make more family time!

It's also interesting that this article seems to reveal how frequent co-sleeping is (whether we choose it or not) in a culture where it's generally regarded as taboo.

Gruntled said...

The Manhattanites in the original article may find the under-bed storage space to precious to give up easily, too.

I think co-sleeping with babies is almost the norm. It is the twirling toddlers who often take the "sleeping" part out of co-sleeping for parents.

Anonymous said...

I've been debating the crib solution for 5 months , my wife is been sleeping with baby in the bed, great for breatsfeeding, I've been sleeping in another room in a mat, I've found you posting and its just the final push that I needed, We explore different options like the sidecar crib, arms reach cosleeper and we finally decided that we are taking our wood bed apart and putting our mattress on the floor , and next to us like a little nest will be our beautiful 5 month old baby boy in his own toddler mattress,next to mommy.
Thanks again and if you have more tips please send them this way.