Everything will be fine, I said. I’m not too old to share a bed with a toddler on vacation, I said. It was everything you would expect it to be and more. Mostly horrible, but with tender redeeming moments.
I like to travel as light as I can. While I pack a suitcase up to the gills with clothes, I don’t like to bring a lot of extra gear. My son is 2 and a half and won’t ride in a stroller for longer than 30 seconds, so I didn’t bring a stroller, and I also didn’t bring a travel bed of any kind.
I knew a few nights stays in a hotel would be problematic, but I thought everything would be fine as long as he slept with me.
I wasn’t counting on sleeping on a skyscraper, the bed height was a little jolting, though very, very comfortable.
Sleeping with my toddler reminded me a lot of this diagram of Baby Sleep Positions from HowToBeaDad.com:
Except for the first leg of the trip I was the only adult, so replace the man in each scene, and mark the entire length of his spot with all of the locations where my toddler fell off of the bed.
The child could not be contained. I peppered the perimeter of the floor with extra pillows and the top covers from the beds.
After picking him up and putting him back on the bed for a third time, I finally just made him a little pallet on the floor between the beds (why didn’t I think of that before?) but he woke up crying a short time later because he was in a different spot from where he started.
I brought him back up into the bed with me so he wouldn’t wake up the whole hotel. But now I’m on the opposite side of the bed from where I started and discover a few pee spots from where his night pants leaked.
I sigh and lay on top of the sheets and cover up with the top cover from the floor. I put a pillow between him and the nightstand so he wouldn’t hit his head on it. In his usual all-over-the-place kind of style, he pushes the pillow so far into the night stand that everything, including my glasses and the room phone, crash onto the floor.
I get up and fumble around and fix that mess and slide him back over on top of the sheets where I was laying.
I continually wake up to check on him and slide him back to the center to make sure he doesn’t fall off the bed again. He doesn’t lose a single wink.
How is this fair? I hauled everybody around in the car for six hours and we had six more to go the next day, why isn’t mom getting any sleep?
We also shared a bed at my sister’s house. It was a lot of the same there, sans the night table, sky-high bed and hard floors. He fell perfectly into the space between the bed and the wall, and proceeded to get comfortable in child’s pose down on the floor while I heftily hoisted him back up onto the bed.
But it wasn’t all for naught.
Since we were in several new places throughout the trip, I laid down with him each night so he would fall asleep. We did share some very sweet moments at bedtime that redeemed everything else.
We laid face-to-face on the same pillow, so close his eyeballs looked as big as the sun. I could see every crease of his lips and the tiny peach fuzz hairs on his little nose.
He laid his hand on the side of my face and smiled the biggest smiles as he settled down to go to sleep. I totally expected him to sneeze or cough in my face or something, but he didn’t.
He smiled big before drifting off to sleep, as if to say “I’ll bet next time you’ll bring a travel bed, won’t you?”
And yes, I definitely will!