Before I had kids, I swore my kids would never sleep in my bed. For any reason. I just wouldn’t let them. End of story. I knew the difficulty of breaking bad habits, so I drew a line and vowed to never start it in the first place. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that getting kids to sleep in their own beds doesn’t happen easily, or overnight. So I came up with a simple trick to keep your child out of your bed and reclaim it for yourself.
I struggled with my kids sleep for a long time, because I hyper-focused on making sure they got enough. I scheduled our life around naps and prioritized an early bedtime. But I soon realized that none of the sleep theories worked for me and my kids.
So I developed my own called, “Do what works until it doesn’t and then transition to something else.”
Part of that involved a phase of rolling over so one of my kids could crawl into our bed and going back to sleep immediately. Regardless of how you feel about co-sleeping or family bed sharing, you might find yourself in this phase and like all phases, it must end at some point.
I’m not telling you when, but I thought I’d share what worked for us incase you find yourself longing to have your own space in the bed again.
How to Keep Your Child Out of Your Bed While You Teach Them To Sleep In Their Own Bed
With kids, nothing happens overnight. Everything is a transition. You’ll find lots of tips online about how to get your child to sleep in their own beds, but you’ll also discover results never happen immediately. You’ll need this simple trick to get your bed back, even if your kids keep coming in your room at night.
First, Set ground rules
Our kids start in their beds and we expect them to stay there, but I pick my battles in the middle of the night. If I didn’t feel like changing their sheets- they came in our bed. If they had a nightmare- they came in our bed for comfort. My limit came when both kids wanted to sleep in the bed at the same time. We have a queen. So I set a rule.
Then when I wanted zero kids in the bed, I set that limit as well. Sleeping while pregnant is hard enough, let alone with a 3.5 year old in my bed making it impossible to roll over. So here’s what we did.
Make their own beds as comfortable as yours
New fluffy pillows. A comforter where their feet don’t stick out the bottom. Some stuffed friends to cuddle. A night light.
Enforce the Limits
It doesn’t matter what stage you decide to set and enforce the limits, it’s not going to be easy at first, especially if you like rolling over and going right back to sleep or your kids have been coming in your bed for awhile. Be as consistent as possible and walk them back to their rooms. I’m sure you’ve heard all the advice.
When It Doesn’t Work- Get Creative
My oldest (he’s 5 now) eventually stopped coming in our room unless he has a nightmare and wants to be close to us. It feels cruel to me to hug him and send him back to his room to lie awake and afraid so I can roll over and go back to sleep.
So when we got bunk beds, I slid the toddler/crib mattresses under our bed. I can pull them out when the kids come in our room in the middle of the night and I no longer have to share my bed space with them. They are still in our room, sometimes both of them, but at least I can get a better night’s sleep. They feel safe and all is well.
Recently I stopped pulling out the mattresses. Kids are resilient. They can sleep on the floor with a blanket and pillow. I’m hoping this encourages them to stay in their beds because we have a third baby on the way and I don’t want to be tripping over them in the middle of the night to take care of her. But if they stay there a little longer, that’s ok too. They don’t come in our room every night. Unfortunately, parenting doesn’t end when your kids go to sleep. Maybe they wake up sick, or afraid, or just need comforted- to know you’re still there. Sometimes they need you even more at night. It’s not always fun, but it’s part of the territory of becoming a parent. There’s no off switch.