As a former teacher, whenever I see articles filled with back-to-school tips, I marvel that what I consider a basic and vital piece of advice is often overlooked: Get enough sleep!
Ideas for easing into the first day of school, maintaining backpack safety, traveling safely to and from school, eating healthy lunches, dealing with bullying, developing good study habits and the like are all important. But, without a healthy dose of sleep, no students day can be as good as it can be. Likewise, droopy-eyed educators can hardly be at their best. Thus, as we think about back-to-school time here, we think about our bedroom environments.
For months now, Jack has been able to roll, crawl and scamper, which has made the fact that he has still been sleeping in Mommy and Daddy’s bed a bit nerve wracking. Momma cannot get much sleep between wake-ups for nursing, tending to the “big” kids and worrying that the baby might fall or crawl right off the “big bed” in the middle of the night. So, I knew moving Jack to his own bed was important.
The Dream and the Reality
Since before Jack's birth, my hope has been to change the Office-Learning Space into a third bedroom space, so Jack could have a safe Montessori-inspired bedroom until he is old enough to move in with Luke, leaving the third bedroom to be transformed again – this time into Nina’s big girl room. That way, I could sleep better knowing Jack was safe. Jack could learn to sleep on his own. Everyone could get enough rest. And, Jack could have the Montessori beginning I so dreamed for all my childen, asleep or awake!
Reality, however, teased that if I waited until I am able to clear the Office-Learning Space in order to make it a bedroom, Jack might be a teenager. So, I adjusted the plan and decided that Luke and Nina’s room could become a sleeping room for all three of our children with a few slight modifications. I could simply take out the dollhouse and play kitchen and put down a mattress for Jack. Then, his independent sleep habit could begin – and Mommy-Teacher might catch a few more worry-free winks herself.
Simple project, right?
Just as I was about to get to it, Jack changed the plan again.
One evening earlier this summer as I was reading Luke and Nina a bedtime story as part of their 5 T’s, I turned to see Jack scaling the ladder on their bunk beds.
Uh oh! Not safe!
As I took Jack down, only to have him head right back for the ladder, I began having visions of him trying to climb up to Luke’s bunk in the middle of the night. I also wondered if I would wake one morning to find Luke and Nina teaching him to jump from the top bunk onto the lower one or onto his sleeping mattress. Scare-ree!
So, my intended small project for reorganizing sleep spaces became a larger one.
A Multiple Day “Mini-Project”
Over the course of several days, I moved everything but the bunk beds out of Luke and Nina’s room into the hall, disassembled the very heavy bunk beds, found homes for pieces of it in other rooms, stopped tripping over the play kitchen and dollhouse that were temporarily housed in the hallway by moving one to the living room and the other to the Office-Learning space and then puzzled out how I could fit the extraordinarily heavy bottom piece of the bunk bed, lighter, but awkward, top piece and two crib-sized mattresses into the kids’ room as their “safe for Jack to explore” beds.
The result? A literal “bed” room. Three beds from wall-to-wall, with a small bureau, a shelf, a book shelf and a stuffed toy bin thrown in for good measure.
Assessing the New Sleeping Space
Now, is our literal bed-room an ideal set up?
No. I can envision many better alternatives, but none that work with the time and budget resources we have.
Is it a move in the right direction as far as my dream of Montessori-izing my home?
Sort of. At least Jack has a relatively safe place to sleep, where he can independently get in and out of his own bed.
Is it working for us for now?
To a degree. Jack is out of Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom and not scaling high places in his new shared bedroom. and, it is such a joy to see the kids slumbering together. However, the slumber does not last through the night. Mommy is still suffering interrupted sleep, ending up going in with the kids for their multiple wake-ups.
Plus, an unforeseen glitch has arisen: Jack has developed an attraction to the window fan that we use to keep the kids' room cool. During our bedtime routine, he constantly crawls from his bed, over his sister’s and up to his brother’s, where he can reach the fan. So, we keep removing him and he keeps returning until we simply unplug the fan in order to damper Jack’s attraction to pushing its buttons. Unplugging the fan, in turn, makes the room get uncomfortably hot as the night wears on, which can make sleep difficult So, I have to sneak back into after the kids have settled, but before their first night waking, to turn the fan back on in order to preclude additional heat-discomfort wakings. (Thank goodness fall is just around the corner!)
Additionally, I learned the hard way – or rather Nina did – that the corners of the disassembled bunk bed can be dangerous. Nina landed on one on her back on one when she was horsing around and got a big, bruised “owie” on her back. I have since jammed a pillow over and around that corner as a temporary safety solution. (Yep, that mushy maroon colored pillow in the photo above is the one! And, while we are talking about bedding, please excuse the riot of colors and patterns we are using. I know they don;t do much to create a peaceful environment, but they are what we have and as we work on night-time incontinence, we find it is difficult to keep matchy-matchy bedding sets on all at the same time. Quick changes, not coordinating bedding, are the current rule.)
Is creating the space a step in the right direction in developing better household sleep hygiene, and, as a result happy, healthy homeschooling?
Yes! In the past few weeks, all three children have managed to get to sleep in their own beds, without a grown up laying next to them, on more than one occasion. Granted, there were complaints and tears, and staying asleep without adult help is a skill the kids still have to master, but, I am happy with one small success at a time.
Yes, for now, I am counting the completion of our new children’s sleeping space as a triumph.
Any tips for magnifying our success with our literal bed-room or with improving sleep hygiene are most welcomed in the comments below! We'd also be glad to hear how others have successfully helped their children master the skill of staying dry through the night. Thanks!
This post is being shared as part of the Organizing Junkie's 52 Weeks of Organizing Challenge.