Keeping Each Other Awake

We are on vacation at my in-laws’ cabin in Birch Bay, Washington right now (again). When you have a limited travel budget, as I do, and you hate camping, as I do, a free vacation option that’s just over an hour from home is a major perk. We make it a point to take advantage of it as often as we can.

As I write, I’m looking down the hill towards the ocean, where the tide is in. Dusk has arrived, and the last rays of light are dying, leaving behind a purplish-gray haze. It is quiet today, since it’s a week night and the weather isn’t even all that good. In the room down the hall my children are tucked safely into the queen bed that used to be mine until my husband and I upgraded to a king.

Side note – switching from a queen to a king does not actually mean you have more space when co-sleeping with a toddler. Toddlers will take up all available space, leaving you with approximately six square inches to sleep on, regardless of the size of the sleeping surface. They’re crafty that way.

brother sister siblings children's museum whatcom family interactive gallery
Earlier today at the Whatcom Museum’s Family Interactive Gallery

To get back to the point, as I said my children are safely tucked in together. They’re supposed to be sleeping, but they’re not. I hear them whispering and giggling, keeping the party going well past their bedtime. This is why they have separate bedrooms at home. I know some people who say that their kids sleep better when they’re in the same room, or the same bed. My children aren’t like that, so much. They’re more the keep-each-other-awake types.

As I listen to them, knowing that their father has told them to pipe down a couple of times already, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I know that they will wake up at the same time tomorrow morning regardless of when they finally succumb to sleep tonight. The only question is whether the will wake up cranky from lack of sleep, or well-rested and cheerful. Given those choices, I choose the second option. On the other hand, I love that they’re enjoying each other, laughing and talking and joking and conspiring against the grown-ups.

More and more often, I see my kids circling the wagons in their arguments with me. I think they’ve cottoned on to the fact that I like it when they’re getting along, and they use it to their advantage. Now, instead of saying I want …, they say we want …, or even better, in an unspoken agreement that they’ll speak up for each other, they say, my brother / sister wants …

In the face of this teamwork, I am left speechless and befuddled. No parent enjoys a constant barrage of requests for more, more, more. At the same time, every parent enjoys it when their children cooperate and work together. When they speak up for each other. When they create a strong sibling bond.

For now, as night falls around me and I make the best of the sketchy wifi here at the cabin, I’m just happy to sit and listen to it from the other room. While I listen, I think that this is something that I’ll remember years from now. The way that they would lie together in that queen bed in the second bedroom at the cabin, talking and giggling and keeping each other up. Working together to milk every last bit of fun they could from this hour, this day, these last weeks of summer vacation. Building a bond and creating memories.

It really is sweet. I just hope I still think so tomorrow morning.

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  1. Oh my gosh, I totally had this experience last night. My oldest was at a friend’s for a sleep over and her middle sister was upset because neither of them can sleep alone. Their youngest sister sleeps best alone and cannot fall asleep with anyone else in the bed, but as the middle sister was crying about sleeping alone, I thought I’d give it a go and let them try to sleep together. Wow, disaster. Took forever for them to get to sleep. And if it was possible, I think the fractured sleep made them wake up even earlier than usual. Grumble grumble.
    christy’s last post … Save Seeds, Save the WorldMy Profile

  2. Lovely post! My daughter is 5 and my son nearing 2 and so I’m just beginning to see the inklings of this. And as for that fun fact about bed size meaning nothing when sharing it with a toddler, I had to laugh as I am always in the final 6 inches of our king sized bed 🙂
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  3. Having Emma and Hannah sleep together wasn’t what we planned – it’s just how they prefered to roll. From almost the start they shared a room – Emma moving to a big bed when she was just 14 months old. It was when Hannah was just 1 that we took off the side rail from Hannahs crib so that Emma could easily crawl in and Hannah could easily crawl out. It was almost instantly that the crib was no longer used and Emma’s single bed became the sleeping destication of choice. So we got rid of the crib and the single bed and moved the girls into a queen. That worked great. Each night they would curl around each other, comforting each other in the night if they awoke.
    Then we moved to bunk beds – a single on top and double on the bottom. Sleepovers happen more often now and we fifured that sooner or later one would move to the top. We were wrong. When kids sleep over it’s everyone on the bottom bunk still. All the stuffies and extra things end up being stored on the top bunk. Each night, the girls curl themselves around each other. Emma will be 8 in a couple of weeks and Hannah’s coming 7 shortly after.

    Emma has asked for her own room – but she still wants to sleep with her sister each night!

    Some times it’s a giggle fest and it’s frustrating. But mostly it’s sweet and comforting for me to know that each night no matter how hard the day was they have each other to curl up against and feel safe and loved. The bond that they have developed over these years of co-sleeping will be virtually indistructable. They may fight like cats and dogs but at night they collapes on each other like a litter of kittens.
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    • I was skimming a kids’ book at the library about a little girl in Africa, whose mother was Canadian. When the mother told the children that she slept in her own room growing up, the kids all wondered what she’d done wrong to receive just a horrible punishment. I know I prefer not to sleep alone, so it doesn’t surprise me that many kids don’t like to, either. The truth is I actually wish mine slept well together, because it might keep them from crawling in with me. So far no luck, though!

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