Sleeping Arrangements to Maximize Family Sleep

I must begin by telling you I have not really slept for 6 years. If your kids sleep through the night, you might think this entire post is insane.bed and lamp

When I was pregnant with my first and we visited some friends with 3 kids, the eldest of whom was then 8, the mom in that family said, super casually, “I haven’t slept through the night in 8 years.” 

I thought she was insane, or crazy, or lying. Maybe mistaken?

So, now I have 3 kids and haven’t really slept since my mid-20s. What I have done is surrender to night-time parenting. It’s just part of my life and prioritize anything that nets the most sleep for the entire family unit. We don’t even refer to our rooms by an owner’s name. We refer to them by their paint color.

Each room has mattresses scattered about where different combinations of parents and sons sleep curled up in a heap…unless someone wets the bed. That person gets moved to a sleeping bag.

Because, with 3 young boys, it’s always something. When the baby isn’t teething, the toddler has an ear infection. When he’s feeling normal, the kindergartener has growing pains. Or someone has a nightmare. Or there’s some type of injustice, such as a pillowcase that is not purple.

Whichever grownup is closest swoops in to the awake child to whoosh him away from the other sleeping people, and then that grownup does not tag out for help unless things are dire. No, that grownup must hold fast and get that awake child back to sleep.

I’m the lighter sleeper, so this person is often me…but the wakeful child is most often the baby, who mostly sleeps in my armpit and just nurses back to sleep relatively quickly.

Many nights, after lots of shenanigans, we’ve got 4 sleeping family members and 1 grouchy, wide-awake grownup, but this is just so much better than the alternative: 5 sleep-deprived, weeping, irritable family members forced to wade through a bleary day.

We fantasize about getting a bigger house, one with bedrooms large enough for king-sized beds where we can all sleep in a heap, close enough that maybe a well-timed back pat could prevent a full wakeup session.

For now, we dart between rooms comforting small boys in matching pajamas. As we rock them to sleep, we tell them they need good jobs to purchase us a napping cottage in the south of France.

What do you do to maximize family sleep? Leave us a comment to share your experiences.

3 comments to Sleeping Arrangements to Maximize Family Sleep

  • Jess Workman

    I have also found myself saying to people that I have not slept through the night in 4 1/2 years. Both of my children woke every 2-3 hours as infants and young toddlers. My youngest who is a little over 2 right now still wakes a few times a night.
    We also have a family bed. A typical night is me nursing the youngest to sleep in her room and putting her in her crib. Then I go into my room where most nights my husband and 4 1/2 year old are in the bed. A lot of times my husband is asleep but my son still awake. So as soon as I lay down he snuggles up to me and we both fall asleep. Then 2-3 house later I hear my youngest calling me. So I take my sleeping 4 year old and put him in his bed and then it’s my little girls turn in the family bed where she nurses back to sleep and is plastered against me all night to the extent that in the morning I barely have room to sleep on my side without falling out of bed. It varies how many times she wakes up during her time in bed to nurse but thankfully I don’t have to get up.
    Some nights my son wakes up at some point and wanders back to the family bed where I usually get him to lay on a pillow at the foot of the bed at my feet. Thankfully we do have a king sized bed but even that doesn’t seem big enough with all 4 of us. I wouldn’t Chang a thing though. I know someday I’ll sleep again.

  • Katy Rank Lev

    I love the image of your big guy on pillows at the foot of the bed! How sweet.

  • Jess Workman

    It’s almost like having a dog who sleeps at your feet ????

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