But... Where do they all Sleep?
Sometimes people wonder where my five kids sleep. It's a valid question, one I wondered about myself when I was a mom of just two or three kids. I knew I wanted heaps of kids, spilling out the doors, but I did want to know where you put that many children to bed.
The short answer is: together.
But that doesn’t make for a very interesting article so I’ll share some details of the sleeping arrangements of our five daughters. Currently their ages range from 11 down to 3 (but she'll be FOUR in two weeks!). We have two sets of bunk beds in one small bedroom. The bedroom is about 12’x11’. One of the bunks has a double bed on the bottom and a twin bed up top. The top bunk is slept in by our oldest daughter, and the double bed is shared by our eight and nine year old daughters. The second bunk is a loft style bed so it isn’t as tall and the bottom bunk is on the floor. Our five year old sleeps on the top of the loft bed and our three year old sleeps on the bottom.
Some may find this sleeping arrangement quite odd. We have a four bedroom house, so why are all these kids sleeping in the same room? Even when we were in a much smaller house, we have nearly always had a baby in the house so have kept the smallest room set aside as a nursery. Once we have another child, the baby gets moved to the big kid room and we use the nursery for the next baby. It has become a special rite of passage in our home to graduate to the big kid room.
American culture has changed drastically in the last 50 years. Families used to be large and it was common to share rooms and beds with your siblings. However, with the advent of birth control family sizes gradually got smaller and the notion of sharing a bedroom, let alone a bed, with a sibling became gasp-worthy.
I’m a grown woman and I don’t have my own bedroom, nor do I have my own bed. I share with my husband. Why have we allowed the culture to tell us that it isn’t right for a child to have to share their space with their siblings? Don’t get me wrong, I know that siblings fight. I fully understand that it may seem easier in the moment to allow them separate rooms to alleviate the bickering.
However, are we really doing our children any favors by allowing them to go their own ways rather than work out the problems between each other?
I think not.
I grew up the middle of five children (four girls first then my brother as the baby and only boy) and often shared a room and sometimes shared a bed. When us sisters would fight, we would switch bedrooms to be with a sister we liked better that week. While it is somewhat humorous, I think we could have had better relationships if this sort of wishy-washy behavior wasn’t permitted. Please note: I’m not faulting my parents. I think we were a handful! But in learning from my own experience and my husband’s experience (his parents built a bigger house so each of the three boys could have their own room) we are trying to do what we feel is best and right for our children and our family.
One of my goals for my children is that they will have the opportunity to grow up with a household of best friends. For the most part I feel like we are succeeding in that effort. Certain siblings don’t always get along, it’s to be expected. However, I think they make more of an effort to get along knowing they have to go to bed together at the end of the day than if they could just go their separate ways and avoid any conflict. When children go their own ways it may feel more peaceful in the moment, but they also aren’t healing the relationship. That long-term relationship is much more important to me than the fleeting peace of separating two sparring sisters.
So all five girls sleep in the same bedroom. This encourages strong sister bonds. It also doesn’t allow for a clique between two sisters to form so strongly that the rest are kept out. For sure, some of the girls are extremely close, closer than others. But sleeping in the same room allows all five to bond together. It’s not uncommon to hear the oldest sister telling stories to the younger four. To hear them share confidences before they sleep is a joy. Some nights they get too crazy and we have to go in to tell them to calm down and stop talking and go to sleep. The punishment is always to be removed from the room. No one wants to sleep alone.
But where are all their clothes, you might ask? As I mentioned previously, we have four bedrooms. Our once guest room/play room/catch all room is now officially a dressing room. All five girls have their own dresser, and a section of the closet for their dresses. I try to be reasonable with the amount of clothing each child owns.
Each girl also has her own hamper for her dirty clothes with helps me with keeping the laundry organized and orderly. It is a system that works well for us. None of my girls are interested in fashion (yet) and so we don’t have the problems often associated with girls.
When sister six comes home from China she will be in the nursery. It will feel good to have a little one in there again. As silly as it may sound to many of you, our home feels strange without a little one in the nursery. We look forward with joy to the day that room will be filled once again.