Thursday, 20 February 2014

Making The Best of Musical Beds

Those of you who read this column last month will know I have been trying to move the three-year-old into her own bed, for the first time ever. It wasn’t easy, but patience paid off and she now happily sleeps there. Every night. Til morning. Its something like a miracle, and happened almost without trauma in the end. You see, first I played the waiting game, lying quiet in the long grass. Then I said idly one day, ‘Maybe if you don’t want the room, one of the boys will like it.’ Suspicious pause. ‘No, that is my room and I will sleep there.’ And she has ever since.

When all else fails, I recommend appealing to the basest instincts: sibling rivalry and territoriality.

The trouble is, nature abhors a vacuum. So do the inhabitants of a four-bed semi-D. When little B moved out, she created the conditions for my husband to move back in. This is the first time in almost a year that the poor man has been able to go to bed, in his very own bed, with his very own wife (I should clarify, for his sake at least, that we are not one of those couples who believe in separate beds; this was a move born of necessity only). But it hasn’t been easy. When I say ‘almost without trauma’, I do mean ‘almost’. The trauma, such as it has been, was mine.

When you are used to sharing a bed with a cute little toddler, re-entering the world of adult co-sleeping is very tricky. A grown man, who snores, hogs duvets and takes up an adult amount of space, is a very different proposition to a sweet little cherub. Even her habit of lying sideways across the entire bed at first seemed endearing in comparison with the giant form now beside me. 

The first night, I missed little B terribly, and barely slept because I checked on her so often. I also kicked my husband viciously every time he moved, and hissed ‘stop that!’ at him. I held on to the covers for dear life in case he wrest them from me, and when he did start to snore, I elbowed him furiously in the side. Secretly, I longed for B to wake up and decide to be scared of foxes, so I could reverse the swap and switch bed mates. With typical contrariness, she slept like an angel.

‘I’m sorry,” I muttered in the morning. ‘I’m just not used to you.’ He looked a bit withering. And bruised. After that, I settled. I rediscovered the joys of a large, warm, solid figure beside me, someone to chat to in the middle of the night if I feel so minded, and we even reached an accommodation over duvets. All good.

There is another problem though. The heat-seeking missiles that are the two older boys regularly torpedo themselves from their own beds into ours in the middle of the night. When husband and I were a divided force, this worked out ok. One of them would thunder into him in the spare room, the other could take his pick, and no bed had more than three people in it. This seemed like a pretty good result. Now though, because we are once more united in the marital bed, that’s where everyone heads. Which can mean five people on a disordered night. Which is ten elbows, ten knees, ten feet, God knows how many toes. And still just the one duvet. Clearly, like the complicated formulae I was never good at in school, there is more than one possible permutation here. Perhaps I’ll move into little B’s room…?    

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