The Guardian: A writer explores the up and downs of letting her kids sleep in the same bedroom.
At two in the morning the other day, I found myself swaying slowly from side to side, cradling my preschooler and whisper-singing the Oompa Loompa song from Willy Wonka “like a lullaby”, per her barked instructions. Like most parents, I’m particularly fixated on sleep and how to optimize it. As I drew out the jig-like tune to make it as soporific as possible, the kindergartner whimpering from the top bunk and the preschooler occasionally flashing me a sadistic grin, I was pretty certain I wasn’t optimizing anything except for the likelihood that when we did eventually nod off, we’d all dream about tiny orange men.
The preschooler, due to a combination of Covid and minimal square footage, happily slept the first two years of her life in a Pack ’n Play in our closet. But when the girls started clamoring to sleep in the bunk bed together, I entertained visions of pre-bed whispering that would render grownup involvement moot, and strengthen their sisterly bonds while leading to deeper sleep all around. Plus, I assumed sleeping together in piles was hardwired into us, from the days when we sought safety from roaming mastodons. So I put the bumper on the bottom bunk and figured, what’s the worst that can happen?
“I’m cowering on the floor of their room,” my husband, Dave, texted the first night, a full hour after “bedtime”. “My arm fell asleep so I had to put her down. Now she won’t let me leave.” Pulsing ellipse, then, “I’m so hungry.”
I tiptoed in to relieve him, as he scurried out to scarf down dinner. Two full minutes of silence. A cackle from the top bunk.