No Place to Lay my Head

One day recently my son Jacob, who is almost four now, was telling me where everyone sleeps. According to him Hannah sleeps in Hannah’s room, Jacob sleeps in Jacob’s room and Daddy sleeps in Daddy’s room. Then I asked him where I sleep, and he looked confused. He had no idea how to answer the question – and I can understand his confusion. Years of co-sleeping have blurred the issue considerably.

Serious boy
Jacob doesn’t know where I sleep

The truth is there is no single place that I sleep. When one of my kids wakes up at night and needs me, I crawl in with them. This is why I got them double beds as toddlers. I didn’t relish the idea of trying to squeeze myself into a car bed with a two-year-old, as I’d heard many of my friends had done. When it’s really hot out and my husband Jon wants to have the fan on and the window open, I go to sleep in Jacob’s room, where it is more than a little too warm but blissfully quiet. And sometimes, it really does happen that I get to sleep in my own bed with my husband and no children all night long. (Dare to dream!)

In Jacob’s mind, all the other members of our family have a room of their own, and I just drift about between them. Sometimes it really does feel that way. I am a woman without a country. I have no single place to lay my head. I go where I am needed, I get enough sleep most nights, and I try not to overthink it.

There was a time when I never would have dreamed of sleeping any place other than my own bed, beside my own husband. In the early years of our marriage we would argue most every night about the temperature (I like it hot, he likes it cold) and the sleeping conditions (he likes the fan, I like it quiet). Not once did it occur to me to sleep someplace else. I would have viewed that as a sign of marital discord. And so we compromised, and both of us were unhappy, and I could rest easy knowing that if my husband and I were tossing and turning, we were tossing and turning together.

Time changes things, though. Two children and various sleeping arrangements and some major furniture purchases later, I’m much less fussed about where I sleep. I no longer consider it a necessity that I sleep beside my husband all night, every night. The truth is, really, Jon likes his space when he sleeps anyway. He’s never been one to spoon, preferring not to touch me at all while he slumbers. And yet, our marriage survives. The difference between sleeping on opposite sides of the same king-sized bed or sleeping down the hall from each other is largely academic, and I don’t think it signals imminent marital meltdown.

Is it unfair that with four people in my family, I am the one who doesn’t get a room to call my own? Maybe. Mostly, though, I just think it’s a pragmatic reality. My goal isn’t fairness, it’s sleep. I’ll do whatever I can to get the most sleep for the most people in my family. If that means that my preschooler can’t tell you where his mom sleeps, well, I can totally live with that.

What about you? Do you find your sleeping arrangement changing from day-to-day? Does it bother you, or do you accept it? I’d love to hear!

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  1. Charmaine says:

    We also have unconventional sleeping arrangements. At the moment, my 18-month-old sleeps in bed with me, with my oldest (8yo) sleeping on a mattress beside us. We sleep in what we call the ‘big bedroom’. My husband sleeps on a foldaway cot in my oldest’s room, even though there is an empty double bed in there! (My 8yo moves back and forth between the two rooms – the past few months he’s been with me.)

    Before my toddler was born, I slept in the ‘big bed’ by myself with my husband beside me on his cot. My son at that point choose to sleep in his room on his own. A year or two before that, he slept in my bed with me and my husband.

    My husband does not sleep well in bed with someone. I had a hard time accepting that at first, but really, having him well-rested and happy is *so* much more important than sleeping in the same bed together, especially when, like with you guys, there wouldn’t be any cuddling action happening during sleep anyhow. πŸ™‚

    At some point the bed I’m sleeping on will need to be replaced and at that point we are considering buying two single mattresses and putting them on a king size bed platform. We’ve slept on arrangements like this in hotels, and my husband thinks it’s OK. On the other hand, the arrangement we have works really well, so we may not bother changing it. πŸ™‚

  2. Kale identifies his room as his and our room as Daddy’s room, but when you ask Kale to get something from the office (our third bedroom that is the craft space / office / library / sofa bed for guests room) he corrects me and says “you mean YOUR office?” Apparently i do not sleep, I just work all the time. πŸ™‚
    Jen’s last post … Kale turns fourMy Profile

  3. my big dream is a room of my own, my own bedroom not just workspace. like you, i don’t see it as the dissolution of a marriage if the partners sleep separately. i need my nighttime peace, and with the onward march of perimenopausal sleep disruptions I need a sleeping arrangement which Suits Me. however, mr ebb is the reluctant one. he’s unwilling to let me sleep free πŸ™

    i’ll get my bedroom one day … soon
    pomomama’s last post … midlife monday: how?My Profile

  4. It is the same here….I sleep wherever it will work and hubs does too…though it really pisses him off more than I…he is still of the old school where our room should be OUR room and his kingdom and all that. Me…I just want a place to sleep in comfort for a few precious ours. I actually LOVE going to sleep in the one of the kids beds when they are hogging our bed as it is a room all on my own….silence.

  5. Love they way you said “My goal isn’t fairness, it’s sleep.” AMEN to that! For a long time after my kids were born I was such a light sleeper. My husband would get annoyed and say we never “slept together” anymore…yeah, that went over well. Sleep is a commodity when you have little kids. My husband and I would be like two little kids comparing who got more or less…or, often, none. Bottom line: you sleep where you can and when you can.
    Meliss604’s last post … Being β€œgreen” with your green. Is sunscreen a place to go natural?My Profile

  6. The first year of being a parent, I slept in my bedroom, and the baby slept in her bedroom. I thought it wouldn’t be otherwise. Then we moved to a new area, first into a 1-bedroom apartment. Soon our 18 month old was climbing out of her crib, so we bought her a toddler bed. She began to sleep in our brand new king bed (I warned my husband that she would sleep with us if we bought a king) and 18 months later, she is still sleeping in our bed. We’ve been living in a 4-bedroom house for almost a year now and haven’t tried to get her to sleep in her own bed. We’re expecting a new baby in December and I’m beginning to see that it’s time for her to sleep in her own bed. Really hard concept for her to even understand though because our bed is naturally her bed… or so she thinks!
    Rebecca B’s last post … Two hours post dreamMy Profile

  7. Sleep is a little less exciting now in our house. My girls have always shared a room and almost always shared a bed. They have a bunk bed with a double on the bottom and a single on the top. We bought this for them after they outgrew the single bed they insisted on sleeping on together, even though there were 2 beds in the room. My kids are like kittens. They sleep well piled next to each other. Which works in our house.

    We have always had an open door policy too. Our bed is always open if need be. I however, will be sleeping in my bed, so if they need me, they need to come to me. And they need me very little. They have each other. If one gets scared in the night, they other is there for comfort. At first it bothered me that they were in the same bed all the time. Now I see the sweetness in it. The bond they have because of their proximity is amazing. Of course, they are regluar sisters who fight like cats, but still, they sleep like kittens.

  8. These days, we all just end up together in the biggest bed!
    Rachael’s last post … At the Natural Parents Network: Who Enjoys My Company?My Profile

  9. I love this post Amber, and all the comments! Makes me feel less “odd” about our seemingly unconventional sleeping arrangements. I share a king bed with our sweet 8 month old boy while my husband sleeps on the couch, either solo or smooshed next to our four year old who sneaks beside him because she is lonely in her room. If she and/or the baby slept more soundly or solidly I’d share a bed with both kids, but that’s unfortunately not the case. Shortly after my son was born I’d start in bed with the baby as my husband with our daughter, and then like clockwork they’d wake right after one another and we’d switch, then switch back again. My friend calls it Family Ping-Pong, you wake up and everyone’s in a different spot. You do what works for your family; more often than not it doesn’t look like a television commercial.
    Dana’s last post … Birthday Party How-to GF StyleMy Profile

  10. I used to feel the same way, that not sleeping next to my husband NO MATTER WHAT meant that our marriage was doomed. Not so much anymore. Although I do miss it, my husband isn’t big on touching while sleeping anyway. I am cozier spooning my toddler or, rarely, spread out in my own area. Some of the best sleep I get is lying on the couch while my 2 year old nurses and watches Sesame Street. Who knew!

    Also, I think it’s a sweet notion to be a woman without a country in this setting. πŸ™‚
    Janine’s last post … Sunday Link LoveMy Profile

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