Beds, Boundaries, and Beyond

For the past couple of years, my daughter, Miss O, has slept in my bed most nights. At some point, I just gave up the pretense of having her go to bed in her own bed because she worried the “thieves” would get her when she would shift from her bed to mine in the middle of the night.

It was all fine until about a month ago when three-year-old Mr. D became aware that his seven-year-old sister had the privilege of sleeping in my bed. Then he demanded a spot too. Okay – fair is fair.

I experimented with trying to put pillows or blankets to separate them so they wouldn’t kick each other which worked, more or less, but then the bed was even more crowded. No problem – I’ll just go sleep in the guest room.

That worked for a couple of weeks until one night when I melted into the bed after a long day thinking about how great it was to have the bed to myself – until 3:21am. Mr. D’s Pull Up had leaked and his sister let him in on the secret of where I was sleeping. We got it all fixed up and they both climbed into the guest bed with me.

The next night, Mr. D wanted to sleep in the “new bed.”

A-ha!” I victoriously thought “I just got my bed back.

And I did – which felt luxurious. I was there for several nights alone until the kids clamored to sleep in my bed again so we are all back together again. Somehow all this practice has made it work better.

This game of musical beds has made me think of boundaries. Prentice Hemphill says “Boundaries are the distance at which I can love both you and me simultaneously.” The maddening thing for me about boundaries is that they aren’t one size fits all. Every person has to determine their own boundaries and communicate them which makes them seem like the work of a lifetime.  

Researcher and author Brené Brown describes a great a-ha moment in her life when she asked another emotions researcher, Marc Brackett, whether resentment was in the anger family of emotions. He replied that they weren’t – resentment is part of the envy family – and often a result of not drawing good boundaries.

There’s a picture of me at about age three sleeping with my blanket on the wood floor outside my parent’s bedroom when we lived in the Philippines. The way I heard the story is that my parents didn’t want me coming in so they locked the door. My mom said my dad was firm about no kids in their bed so he could get his sleep and I can relate to that – even as I draw my boundary differently.

Because my boundary in this area is all about time. Bedtime is bedtime and there’s no fudging it. And then my kids know they have to stay in whatever room they are in until wake-up time. It’s a boundary that is my life-saver as a single parent and I don’t bend on it.

Last night as I was falling to sleep in my bed listening to the rhythmic orchestra of my two kids breathing, I felt the sweetness of the proximity. I know that this phase ends because I’ve heard it so many times from other parents who often say it with a note of wistfulness.

So I’m okay with this arrangement. Somewhere in this continually swap is a balance of reassurance based on closeness and a good night’s sleep. Most nights we get some of each.

At least I was okay with it until the cat jumped on the bed the other night. That crossed my boundary. We need rest and reconnection, with no side of resentment, so I kicked her off. The cat can continue to sleep on Miss O’s bed – because none of us ever sleeps there. 😊

(featured photo from Pexels)

70 thoughts on “Beds, Boundaries, and Beyond

  1. Amidst all the movement…feline and the kiddos…here’s hoping mama gets some good sleep every now and then! But…as I say that I also remember. Snuggling in the way you describe can be one of those short term, blissful phases in parenting. Ahhh…but I’m with you. The cat can find other accommodations! 🤣😘🤣

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I love the Hemphill quote.

    My granddaughter came into her parents bed almost every night – so much so they swapped out the queen bed for a king. They needed room but wanted her to know she was always welcome if she needed them. She thanked them for buying “us” a big bed. Two days later, all on her own, she now sleeps in her own bed all night most nights. Your boundaries are framed with love. What more can we ask of ourselves?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. What a lovely story you’ve shared about your granddaughter. That’s beautiful. And your question – what more can we ask ourselves if we’ve framed our boundaries with love? Wow, that’s worth highlighting. Thank you, Maggie!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Wynne, what a good and loving Mom you are 🙂💕 And you are right about the wistfulness: I remember those single-parenting days – and oh, those precious snuggles – as if it were just yesterday. I still sleep in my adult daughter’s bed when I go visit (she doesn’t have a spare bed yet). I love occasionally having her so close again. These days will pass: you’ll be glad for all the nightly shenanigans you put up with. I loved this post. And I’ve copied the quote: “Boundaries are the distance at which I can love both you and me simultaneously.” That is BRILLIANT!!!

    Liked by 5 people

  4. “…falling to sleep in my bed listening to the rhythmic orchestra of my two kids breathing, I felt the sweetness of the proximity…” . . . one of the sweetest sounds of ‘borderless’ parenthood I so miss Wynne. Thanks for the memory.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Lovely post Wynne. I can’t relate to what you describe… the nearest wasting to share a single bed with a full grown German Shepherd in my teens – but she used to hog the bed. I must have been unique as a teenager, getting up early

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m laughing about your comment, Brenda. I used to have a Mastiff and I made the mistake of sharing the bed once. It’s hard to have boundaries with pets on the bed and I adore my pets. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wynne, I love that you do what works for your tribe, and that you must have a huge bed! I was raised in a very different environment and time, and experienced strict “bed rules” I have only dabbled in the co-sleep concept, but mostly when the kids were babies- which now is a huge no-no. You know your kiddos better than anyone, but are you sure there’s no room for the cat? 😉

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hee, hee, hee, Deb. The cat is a wanderer at night so I’m not up for making sure she is getting out.

      You make a good point about the different environment and time when we were young – yes, the ethos has changed, it seems, in so many ways.

      Do you want a cat? 😉 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sweet. I am a little concerned, however, when a proper man inevitably finds you ahead of schedule. Imagine the scene: two adults, a life sized bear, and two kids. Jammed up,!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I hope you’re getting some decent sleep, Wynne! It sounds like a very sweet setup. It’s true; you have to do what works best for you and yours. My husband and I sleep with 2 Chihuas. One is a bed hog at a mere 13 pounds in a king sized bed!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s so funny about your 13 pound chihuahua! It’s not the size of the dog but… Isn’t that how that saying goes? And I love you sweet wishes on getting some sleep – I’m doing fine. Plenty of beds to choose from if I’m ever feeling restless. Hope you are feeling well these days! ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s good that you can rotate beds if needed! 😍 We’re on spring break right now, and it’s been much needed. My husband and a friend drove up to see my in-laws in CO so I’m spending some time with my mom and the pups. Will Ms. O and Mr. D have spring break soon? Take care!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, I’m so glad you are getting spring break. We just had mid-winter break a couple of weeks ago so we have 4 more or so before spring break. Enjoy your mom and your dogs!! And I hope your father-in-law is healing well! ❤ ❤ ❤


  9. 4.5 years the second kid came into my bed every single night. I’m still traumatized. Then, after it finally ended, they got a puppy. ‘Not on the furniture’ commands were ignored.’ At least keep him off the bed’, I demanded. Nope.

    I find it difficult when everyone presumes everything in the house is to be shared equally all the time. And as much as I enjoyed doing some (not all) co-sleeping arrangements with the girl child in the early years, it affected me deeply later when they continued to suppose what’s mine is also theirs. It didn’t help that the house was small and there wasn’t even a corner for me void of their intrusions – I’m just saying, it was a struggle to set boundaries later, when they were more adept at comprehending about individual needs.

    My suggestion here, not that you asked, is to maybe choose a night or a select few where there is a compromise. They get to have a sleepover with mom once in a while but the rest of the time it’s important to respect mom’s privacy, too.

    I wish I had thought of this then… 😀

    Good luck! And enjoy their little tiny squishy bodies as long as they’re still that size!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you make really valid points Claudette, especially as someone who has come out the other side and grown some real life, long term wisdom in this case. It’s so hard to know what will work and what won’t and that speaks a lot to trial and error and knowing your family dynamic as well.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. This is a really good suggestion and viewpoint, Claudette. That boundary of what mine is not yours for the taking is important to me too. Great food for thought. I’m so glad that you have managed to get some privacy and a room with a door some times! ❤ ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello.
    What a heartwarming post! It’s important for parents to understand and communicate their boundaries with their children. The musical beds game sounds like a fun way to navigate through it.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What an insightful comment – I like how you highlight the boundaries, Michelle. Of course, when we communicate ours, we’re also teaching that it’s okay and how to set them so it’s a good education for the kids too. Thank you for adding this to the discussion!


  11. “Boundaries are the distance at which I can love both you and me simultaneously.” I hadn’t heard this before, but it’s brilliant and so lovely. I can’t relate, but I imagine the challenge of balancing your your own needs and those of your children, and it sounds like you’re identified a great system for your family, during this season of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I grew up when sleeping in bed with your parents wasn’t a possibility. It just wasn’t done. Whether I’m better or worse off for it I cannot say. I am glad that you do what makes sense to you. That seems sensible.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Me too, Ally! It just wasn’t part of parenting when I grew up and I can’t say either. But you are right – doing what makes sense to each of us is probably the best we can do. At the very least, it’s good for a blog post while I work it out… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I love the play on words with Bed, Bath and Beyond – Wynne.

    The musical chairs of bedtime is an interesting one and I will fess up that we still co-sleep with T as it helps ensure a good night sleep for all. I keep telling myself that he won’t be co-sleeping with us when he’s 16, so let’s check in on this one day.

    I had quite the laugh at the visuals in my head of the kids following you from one bed to another. I do feel this is a phase they will be both outgrow, so I hope you you enjoy the time together for now! 😊💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love how you pick up what I’m laying down, Ab. I was quite amused by my title..and now I know I’m not alone. 🙂

      Can’t wait for the check-in when T & O are 16. Hilarious! It’s a deal. And yes, we’ll enjoy the time together for now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Sleep is so very important to overall health – do what works best for y’all! “The maddening thing for me about boundaries is that they aren’t one size fits all. Every person has to determine their own boundaries and communicate them which makes them seem like the work of a lifetime.” – Indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Wynne, I play musical beds all the time, but luckily, it’s only the cat that joins in–my kids are grown. I’m all for doing WHATEVER gets me to sleep the quickest and for the longest stretch of time. Make your own rules!

    Liked by 1 person

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