I recently read that more and more spouses are choosing to sleep in separate beds and not with each other.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 23 percent of couples report sleeping in separate beds and intend to continue doing so.
Is this a good idea? I think it’s a bad one, and can offer a personal story to illustrate why.
When our fourth child was born, our “older” children were 2½, 5 and 6 years old. Talk about perpetual chaos.
After a few peaceful days in the hospital, I was sent home to the trenches. It wasn’t my first rodeo, but it was definitely the hardest homecoming of the four.
Paul took as many days off as he could, which wasn’t many and certainly not enough. My parents helped out as well, and I truly don’t know what I would’ve done without them.
Still, all mothers know the bulk of the work — with the newborn and the “older” children — falls squarely on their shoulders.
It wasn’t long before sleep deprivation set in as I was up at all hours with the new baby or the others, who suddenly needed me more than before their baby brother arrived.
And I knew that even when Paul didn’t get up with the baby, he wasn’t getting much sleep either.
For the record, I was completely responsible with coming up with the idea of Paul sleeping upstairs in our spare bedroom, which would hopefully one day be the new baby’s room. After all, why should both of us go through the day exhausted?
I reasoned he would be more energetic to help me when he got home from work if he had an entire night’s worth of sleep.
I don’t really remember how the conversation went, but I do remember there was no resistance from him at the thought of getting an entire nights’ sleep.
So after getting the three older children off to bed, Paul headed upstairs to his sleeping quarters — sans baby, bottles, diapers, etc.
The first few nights were OK. I didn’t have to leave the bed while nursing the baby in the middle of the night. In fact, I turned the television on and watched “girl” shows at 2 a.m.
I think I even ate a few snacks while watching television and marveled at the roominess of the bed.
Paul did feel better on those mornings when he headed off to work. After all, everybody feels good when they have seven or eight hours of sleep. Not that I remembered what that was like.
After that first week, an odd thing began to happen. I started resenting Paul and his cheerful, well-rested self. I didn’t like how he seemed happy at night when he headed up to his peaceful lair.
I imagined him smiling as he went to sleep. Enjoying the white noise of his fan as he happily dreamed about things other than crying babies, fighting children and endless loads of laundry.
Women who have just had a baby must be dealt with carefully, especially ones that are dealing with a brood of little ones who are extremely needy.
It wasn’t long before I brought up my grievances. Luckily, this wasn’t Paul’s first rodeo either.
I don’t remember what he said, but he agreed we should go back to sleeping in the same bed, no matter how sleepless the nights. I immediately didn’t feel so alone.
When parenting, there really has to be an “us against them” sort of bond. If not, I’m convinced “they” win the battle.
Thankfully, our experiment with sleeping separately ended well, but I am curious if others are making it work.
The National Association of Homebuilders is reportedly expecting to build an increasing number of new homes with two master bedrooms.
In fact, one report I read said that in the future, 60 percent of new homes will have two master bedrooms. What do y’all think?
Send me an email. I always love hearing from readers.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.