Sara McGinnisposted in Life & Home
Is it possible that it’s the size of bed and not how many people are in it that’s the key factor in making co-sleeping work?
All I know is that suddenly my disinterest in having a family bed is weakening after setting eyes up on the cozy monster Kim Constable shares with her husband and four children. Take a peek at the bed she, former rugby player Ryan Constable, 11-year-old Corey, 9-year-old Kai, 6-year-old Maya, and 5-year-old Jack all can snuggle up in:
Obviously, this is no regular bed. It’s made out of one king size bed, one super king and a single — all joined together to make one huge 18-foot bed!
“Before the big bed was created I spent my nights bed running about from room to room trying to get all the children to sleep,” Kim explained to Belfast Telegraph. “I am there for my children 24 hours a day and night. Whether they have a bad dream or want a drink of water, I will be there for them during the night just like I am during the day.”
It isn’t just the bed arrangements that are unusual in the homeschooling Constable household. The bedtimes are, too.
Kim went on to explain they “let the kids decide when they are ready to go to bed and most nights that will be between 10pm and 11pm” when she and Ryan are ready for bed. “We will all go and get our PJs on and clean our teeth and all that happens together as a family. Then we all snuggle down together and talk or read a story.”
She usually goes to bed with the younger kids, while 11-year-old Corey tends to stay up later. If it’s been a busy day the younger ones will tell their mom they’re ready for bed about 8 or 9pm, and “that is okay, too.” Kim will take them up to settle them in bed, and then she and Ryan will go to bed later.
“Corey is a real night owl so he will go to bed anytime between midnight and 3am,” Kim shared, however he will go to bed with his siblings if the family has something scheduled the next morning. “But because we homeschool, he doesn’t have to get up at any particular time unless we have morning activities. So if he goes to bed late, he will maybe not get up until about 1pm.”
“Again I don’t force anything onto my children, I let them set their own pace. As they are homeschooled Corey doesn’t have to be up for a certain time.”
Check out Kim talking about their co-sleeping arrangements with This Morning:
What has the reaction to your giant family bed been like?
“It’s funny because you can’t really appreciate the size of the bed until you see it with your own eyes, but it’s huge! People usually have mixed reactions; they either love it or they hate it! Camps are very firmly divided.
Many people say ‘Oh my goodness, I would love to have this for my family because it would make my life so much easier and we would all sleep better!’ or they say ‘There is no way I would ever do this with my kids. My bed is my bed and I won’t share it with anyone except my husband.’ When friends have seen my bed in the flesh (so to speak) they are usually in awe of the sheer size of it. And quite often they will admit that it looks extremely cosy, even if co-sleeping isn’t something that they’ve ever done.
My experience is that we tend to do what was done with us when we were growing up. Of course there are exceptions (me being one of them!) but for the most part I find that if you didn’t co-sleep with your parents, then you are less likely to sleep with your own kids. Also, many people are against co sleeping because at one point or another they have been squished into a double bed with their husband and child or children and suffered a terrible night sleep. So this is their point of reference. But when you bring in extra beds and make sure everyone has enough room, co sleeping can be very enjoyable.”
How do you handle those who say negative things about the arrangement?
“Parenting tends to bring up very strong emotions in people. We all want to do the very best we can for our kids and we want to believe that the way we are doing it is the best way. So when we see things that are different to how we’re doing it, it naturally brings up fears about our own parenting choices. I understand this and don’t judge it.
When people say negative things it’s really because they just don’t understand it. They make assumptions about how we live and parent, based on their own experience and beliefs, that generally aren’t accurate. But I’ve been doing things differently my whole life! I’ve always been “the black sheep” so to speak, so I am used to people judging me.
After a while you realise that the negativity says more about them that it does about you, and you learn to just smile and move on. I honestly just don’t let it bother me. In fact, it’s got to the point where I love reading people’s comments on social media just so I can have a good giggle. People are so serious! And it always makes me smile. I’m a very lighthearted person and not much gets me down.”
A peek at Kim, Ryan and their four sweeties:
How long do you imagine your family will continue sleeping this way?
“Actually about six months ago I started sleeping regularly in the spare room with my husband, leaving all the kids in the big bed together. I asked them if they’d be happy for me to sleep with daddy in the other room and they said they didn’t mind at all. They all have each other and take comfort in sleeping tucked up together.
Then about 3 months ago, Kai my second son who is 9, decided that he wanted his own room so we moved one of the beds out into another spare room for him. So now it’s only a 12 foot bed and sleeps Corey the eldest, and the two youngest children. Corey seems to love sleeping with the little ones and has no plans to have his own room just yet, although I imagine it will happen soon. If someone wakes in the night they either snuggle up closer to each other, or they come and get into bed with Ryan and I. Or I will go and get into bed with them. We’re very relaxed about sleeping arrangements!”
Anything else you care to share with our readers?
“If you look at 99.9% of the parenting manuals on the market, they are all geared towards meeting the needs of the parents and not the child. They are all about satisfying the parent’s need for control and very few, if any, address what is healthy and optimal for the child.
I think that parents needs are important and if the thought of co sleeping fills you with horror, then you definitely shouldn’t do it. It wouldn’t be healthy for you, or the child. But if you have a secret desire to see what it’s like to bed share with your children, don’t be worried about what society will say, and just give it a try. Nothing is permanent and very few things are irreversible. Rules are made to be broken and if you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.
Making the decision to be more relaxed about bedtimes, sleeping and parenting in general has completely transformed our lives. Everyone is much happier because of it. Your children are only young for such a short time. Make every moment count and you’ll never regret it.”
Seeing as how my kids are 12 and 10 now, and have been sleeping on their own most of their lives, I don’t imagine a mega-sized family bed is in my future. If I’d thought of it years ago, though? We just might have given it a try.
Last year at this time my family of four was sharing a 27 ft. camper together. There was a double bed on one end for my husband and I, and bunkbeds for the boys no more than a handful of steps away. Although we weren’t technically co-sleeping, we were most certainly room-sharing — and I kind of liked it. There was peace of mind I’d never had before being able to easily see and hear them.
But, full disclosure here, there was also farts, snoring, and teeth grinding.
That being said, I do kind of miss it now that we’re back to a traditional house and room arrangement. Seems a little too late for me to get on the mega-bed bandwagon, but perhaps it’s not for you?
Does the idea of an enormous bed change your interest in co-sleeping? Why or why not?
If you’re curious, you can check out Kim’s recent TEDx Talk about parenting here.
This post was originally published in November, 2016.
Ready for more? Check out how one mom of 5, built this ultimate co-sleeping bed:
Photo: Earth Mama Photography