The one tip I needed to rest easy as a new dad

If you're going to share your sleeping quarters, it's a good idea to make sure everyone fits. Consider this key piece of advice before it's too late.

in bed with kids

New dads would be familiar with the flood of advice that comes from all quarters in the early days of parenthood. You learn to smile and take it on board, but the best lessons are inevitably the ones you learn yourself.

As a dad to three little angels aged 10, eight and almost six, I’ve received plenty of tips over the years, but there’s one that sadly never arrived as I was about to dive into fatherhood for the first time.

It’s a lesson I had to learn myself, and as a service to any new dads reading this I want to pass it on.

So, don’t even muck around here – go and buy a king size bed!

While your new arrival is safely nestled in its bassinet or cot right now, I can give you an ironclad guarantee that at some stage during the first five years of their life he or she will spend a fair chunk of time coming into your bed and anything smaller than the king of beds just won’t cut it.

My wife and I had vowed to ensure our kids remained independent and stayed in their beds no matter what, and initially our philosophy worked for our eldest.

At two years of age she tried to come into our bed, but she was so cooperative that she always went back to her own bed without complaint. The dream child.

Our next two kids? Not so much … and screaming matches with your children are never fun, ESPECIALLY at three in the morning.

Holding your ground and not allowing your kids to come into bed with you is great in theory, but those kinds of reasoned discussions you have with your partner don’t hold much sway when it’s cold, dark, and your child will not relent until they are safely tucked up in the bed with you.

So, if you do give in – and you’re rolling with a queen size set-up like us – what is the solution? I’m afraid it’s not good news, dad.

Life Insurance 300x250

It’s a simple equation… child comes in, you hop out. Over the past six years, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time either sleeping on the couch or in my child’s single bed.

It’s like I’m 16 years old again – my feet hang over the end of the bed and there’s no room to move. It’s as awesome as it sounds.

It’s only rubbed in even more when you walk back into your bedroom the next morning to find your child snuggled up comfortably next to mum… IN YOUR SPOT!

While my middle child is now well and truly past the phase of jumping into her Mum and Dad’s bed, my youngest is still randomly coming in. He’s six, and there’s no sign of abating.

Maybe the kids colluded with each other? “What’s one way we can constantly remind Dad that it ain’t just he and Mum in the roost now? I know, let’s take his spot in the bedroom, each and every night”.

It’s like some sort of baton handed down in a ritual from one child to the next.

Fortunately, I’m past the ‘every night’ phase now, but it still happens probably two to three times a week. This means that two or three nights a week, I’m either on the couch or in his single bunk bed … not so great for a 45-year-old back.

I can hear what you’re saying… “Why not just go get a king size bed now?” That’s all good in theory, but when kids arrive priorities change, and a king-sized bed at this stage of our lives is a luxury we can’t afford or justify.

The months before your first child arrives can be your last chance to treat yourself. You’ll get this well and truly once it happens to you, as your kids become your life. For the most part, you become a champion at being selfless.

“Should I go spend $2,000 on a king size bed, or put it towards karate lessons for the kids?”

Karate lessons every time.

To rub salt in the wounds, I got a recent insight into what life could have been like, sleeping on my brother’s king size bed on a family holiday to the US. Surface aside, I may as well have been sleeping on the MCG it felt that spacious.

During the trip, my son spent pretty much every night coming into our bed, but on a king size we all fit comfortably and none of us even noticed the presence of an extra body.

It inevitably led to a better sleep, and a happier mum, dad, and six-year-old son.

If only I could have smuggled it home…

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