Parenting is unpredictable. Things you think will be huge issues go over without a peep and things you think will be of no consequence whatsoever turn your whole house upside down. Transitioning the girls from a bed and a crib on opposite sides of the room to shared bunkbeds falls into the latter category.
It’s not that I didn’t think there would be issues. Transitioning Mazzy from a crib to a toddler bed was an absolute nightmare, so I shouldn’t expect anything less from Harlow— especially since she was pretty content in her crib and probably wasn’t ready to give it up.
Also, let’s be clear. I still believe bunkbeds is absolutely the right decision for the room (check out the room makeover here). It’s a huge space saver, it looks great and the girls love it. Maybe if the room was the size of Beyonce’s nursery, I would choose separate beds. Or if the girls had separate rooms entirely, that would be better. But neither of those are really an option.
A lot of people have asked if it is a pain to make the bunkbed and change the sheets. The answer is yes. But it’s not that big of a deal because a) Harlow is a tiny little person and just pulls back the corner of the covers to get in bed. To make Harlow’s bed in the morning, you just pull that little corner back up. And b) Mazzy doesn’t like using covers. I thought this would change once we gave her a real bed with a fluffy duvet, but no. She prefers to sleep on top of the covers; therefore her bed is made even when she is sleeping in it. Unless there is some kind of accident (in which case, I’m like— just get in my bed and we’ll deal with it in the morning), we only have to fully make-up the beds when we wash the sheets about once a week.
Others have inquired about the danger factor. Does Harlow climb up? Does Mazzy try to jump off? We have not found this to be an issue. Harlow got competent at the ladder after one day and then lost interest. I don’t think she’s ever gone up when an adult wasn’t in the room. Mazzy is a pretty cautious kid and has never tried to jump.
Getting up in the mornings has been much better too. Since the switch, the kids wake up later. I don’t know why, they just do. And these are kids who woke up between 5:30 and 6am for the past five years. Now, they get up at a very heavenly 7am.
Mazzy’s dresser, which you might remember is behind the bunkbed in it’s own little nook, has been a blessing as well. In the old room, the girls shared a dresser and their clothes were often all mixed up. Now, Mazzy will wake up and change herself before leaving her room. This is awesome, except that it means she puts together some truly horrific outfits— but I’ll take budding independence over innate fashion sense any day of the week.
The area that has fallen completely to shit is our bedtime routine.
In the olden days (i.e. the days when Harlow was still in her crib and Mazzy was sleeping only a couple feet off the ground), they would brush their teeth, I’d read them both a book in the glider chair, and then I’d turn out the lights. Mazzy would get into bed and I’d hold Harlow as we’d all sing a bedtime song together in the dark. On the last line of the song, I’d lay Harlow in her crib. Then I’d usually sit back in the glider and chat with them a little while they were both in their beds. Sometimes we’d tell each other the best part of our day, sometimes we’d exchange jokes, sometimes I’d make up a story— this portion of bedtime routine has changed many times throughout the years, depending on request. When it was over, I’d say goodnight and leave the room, both girls sleepy and content, usually whispering “I love you, Mommy” on my way out.
It was a little magical and I prided myself on all my hard work (sleep training, etc.) to get to that magic.
What I didn’t realize is that my time in the glider chair was key to the whole going to bed process— namely, because the glider was in the middle, belonging to neither of them. It was Switzerland. So I could sit there and talk or rest and they could quietly zone out until I left.
Now, if they want me to stay in the room after books, I must choose between lying in the top bunk and the bottom bunk. This is like choosing which parent to live with after a divorce— you can’t win. I almost always choose the bottom because Harlow would FREAK THE F*&K OUT if I chose otherwise, and that always seems unfair to Mazzy. As a result, Mazzy often wants to stay with us in the bottom bed, which just means that everybody is up and nobody is relaxing AT ALL. In fact, Harlow (particular little person that she is), usually gets annoyed if Mazzy is crowding her in bed after she believes her big sister’s bottom bunk time is up.
I’ve tried letting the two of them sleep in the bottom bunk together (it’s way less crowded once I leave), but that seems to mean they will play forever and ever and ever until I finally come back in and demand Mazzy go up to the top. Mazzy will often complain that she is “too tired” to go to the top which is is a total crock because then she will sing and play and wreak havoc for the next two hours if I let her stay on the bottom.
Harlow, as much as she loves getting in her bed, throws an absolute fit whenever I say it’s time for me to leave. Usually I’ll try to appease her by lying there for a few minutes, but as any parent can tell you, five minutes is met with demands for five more minutes and even if you’ve been in there for 45 minutes, it is never enough.
At the very least, it has not occurred to Harlow yet that she can get out of the bed on her own, so, for the past few weeks, Harlow has been screaming bloody murder every night when I finally leave them both on their own. First for me, then for Daddy when that doesn’t work. Then Mazzy starts screaming that Harlow wants us, which we can plainly hear and it all snowballs from there. Requests for water, one more hug, a lost stuffed animal, etc. etc. etc. from both kids. And Mike and I are both guilty of being incredibly inconsistent in what we are willing or not willing to do once lights are out.
A lesson I thought we learned a long time ago but apparently need to be taught again.
I know the answer is to just cut them both off completely. Read my book and get the hell out of there, no matter what they do.
But I always liked that time in the glider, playing Switzerland, relaxing and talking to my girls at the end of the day as they drifted off to sleep on either side of me, safe in the comfort of their own beds.
Transitioning is hard. For everyone.