The Problem With Bunk Beds

Do your kids have bunk beds? If so, I am pretty mad at you right now.


*deep breath*

About six months ago it became very apparent that The Goon Squad was getting too big for their toddler beds. If one stretches out they should not be able to touch the headboard with one’s head and the foot board with one’s feet. I have long children and they continue to grow. It was time to get regulation sized beds.

Being the egalitarian parent that I am, I asked them what kinds of beds they wanted for their big beds.

Eventually everyone agreed on bunk beds.

Now, before you ask, they each have their own rooms and yes, I know how expensive bunk beds are, but the grandparents got together and got each child a bunk bed for Christmas.

Yes! Two sets of bunk beds in my house. We now have the capacity to sleep ten – thirteen if you count all of the couches, fourteen if you are willing to sleep between Gabe and me.

These are serious pieces of furniture. They aren’t those reddish metal framed bunk beds that were super popular about 20 years ago, no. These are wooden behemoths. They take up 80 percent of each room and I’m pretty sure we can never move again.

Ian’s bunk bed had a desk and bookshelves built in. Claudia’s is a full sized bed on the bottom and a twin on top. Her bed doesn’t have a ladder. It has stairs and the stairs double as drawers. It is one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

I can’t even get a good picture because there is nowhere in the room that I can stand and get the entire thing in the frame.

(Oh! I just figured out the reason I need a fisheye lens.)

Just picture this but with more wood and black bedding with pink skulls on it.

In a smaller and messier room. With a board blocking the front of the top because I bought pillow top mattresses not realizing it makes the child even with the top of the railing and therefore in constant danger of rolling over and falling five feet onto a pile of Barbies, Littlest Pet Shop and Polly Pockets.

And the bottom isn’t a cute daybed. It is a full sized mattress covered in stuffed animals.

Whatever. It is really, really hard to put sheets on the top OR the bottom and I spent far too long looking for a picture that resembles her bed to not put this one up there.

Seriously, I called the furniture store AND Trendwoods and this is the closest either of them could come. I think it would have been less of a hassle to go out, get a full time job, earn a few pay checks, go to the store, buy a fisheye lens, clean Claudia’s room, take some photos, upload them, find a good one, edit it and post it here.

Back to my issues. Why didn’t you people tell me how difficult it is to put sheets on a bunk bed? I think my children learned three new bad words as I attempted to change the sheets, and they still ended up looking like crap.

I will pay you $ 20 to come over and change my kids’ sheets because I am going to have a nervous breakdown and if I tell a therapist that I totally lost my shit because I physically could not change the sheets on a bunk bed they will laugh me out of the mental hospital.

The moral here. Bunk beds are cool, but they are evil –  like cigarettes or pointy goatees. Only buy them if you have an Au Pair or an Alice. And for the love of God, don’t get them until your child is 100% night trained and promises to never vomit in their bed again.

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  1. I have Bito put his sheets on his top bunk. Seriously. That way I don’t have to do it, and I don’t care if they aren’t quite snug on the corners. It’s his problem!

  2. My oldest son has a bunk bed. I get the shakes thinking about having to change the bedding because seriously, delivering that boy was easier to me than putting a damn sheet on his bed. I have no tips. Just silent screams.

  3. I am embarrassed to tell you how infrequently I change the sheets on mimi’s top bunk because it is such a pain int the @ss to get up there.

    And holy crap, I think this is just about the longest post you’ve ever written! 😉

  4. ks grandma says:

    Life’s short. Get them a sleeping bag & make the beds when you are being photographed for house beautiful. Or when they move out.

  5. Changing sheets?

    I have no idea what you are talking about.

  6. I just made my kids split up into different rooms because I was so tired of changing the sheets on the top bunk. My son is now sleeping on a futon frame with a mattress thrown on top. He’s happy to have his own room, and I only have to change the sheets on the top bunk when we have company(which is very, very rare!).

  7. I now feel sorry for my Mom, who definitely changed my bunkbed’s sheets many times. I also feel badly for you because “vomit in their bed,” is one of the worst things I have ever read in my entire life ever OMG.

  8. My mother warned me about this. Seriously, the other day when we were considering configurations of our girls’ new beds (stackable) in their room.

    We opted to keep them unstacked for now, which means the room is basically all bed. But I don’t feel like dealing with the sheet changing thing until we are way, way out of the bedwetting danger zone.

    Also, I worry that at 4 they’re too young for it to be safe. Do you worry about this?

  9. smart aleck says:

    What about using only flat sheets? Or is that the worst idea in the universe? It has been awhile since I have been in person with a bunkbed, but I thought that could be easier than elastic…

    And much easier to strip the beds.

  10. What do these cleaning people do, anyway?

  11. My twins share a room and they each have a loft bed (picture top bunk with nothing under it). Under them we got them ikea desks cause they neeeded them lol. Anyhow, they are like 6th tall and I cant change their sheets, since hubby is over 6th tall its become his job. To make it easier though we only use the flat sheet and comforter

  12. My girls have bunk beds and I hate the dam things. For this exact reason. I have no good ideas. Although, I’ve seriously considered making mine sleep in sleeping bags on top of their sheets. But I haven’t gone that far yet.

    I do love the kind with the wooden drawers. My brother had those as a kid. My kids is wooden and can be separated into two beds. Which I think I want to do this summer.

  13. First jealous of your bunk beds.we have had bunkbeds and i agree they should come with someone who makes the bed. I have found it much easier to pull the mattress almost completly off the bed to make it. it is crazy

  14. Oh, yeah, bunk beds are of the devil. We have a full bed over a full bed (with no ladder) and the sheets thing is a nightmare. I make my kids help me with the top bunk. I pull from the bottom and they distribute the sheet up top. I can manage to do the bottom bunk by crawling into the bed.

    I’m intensely jealous of the drawers though. That’s awesome.

  15. Oscar got a bunk bed last year (he sleeps on the bottom) and yeah, the sheets are a bitch.

  16. WE had those, but my kids then changed their minds. Considering how much I HATE making beds, adding the bunk was not such a big step. It’s also why I pay a housecleaner to change the sheets. I remember my SIL getting my son a new set of sheets for his birthday, then asking if she could make his bed – now that was a gift :) Good luck. I will confess my kid usualy sleeps on the comforter so we went for quite a long time w/o changing it.

  17. Totally MY fault for not telling you! what a shithead I am. Let me impart this little gem of a story though. Bought my kid a loft bed from Ikea, said RIGHT ON THE BOX do not move after you put this bed together. I’m a rebel so we moved 3 or 4 times and by the end the bed was held together with carpenter’s glue and hope. The best part was one night he leaned OUT of the loft bed and vomited
    If you want to change the sheet on a top bunk take the mattress off the bed, put the sheet on on the floor and pop the mattress back in.

  18. At first glance, I LOVE the beds. My two will be separating this summer into their own rooms and I’ve been lamenting the loss of my guest room. This LOOKS like such a good idea. But…I remember when I thought I was going to have a breakdown just changing the sheets in their cribs because of all the bumper pads. I would curse and mutter so much that my husband would always come rescue me (he could hear me over the monitor with my foul language). I feel the same way about pillow cases on MY OWN bed. I just hate that chore.

  19. top sheets as bottom sheets, no top sheets as top sheets, a bath every night, comforters and Derek.

    Derek was MIA tonight and I got Ethan to help. He sat on top of the sheet while he tried to tuck. Blond. I could feel my stitches rubbing against the bed as I leaned over. It went right to my top ten worst parenting moments in a millisecond.

  20. I never thought about it since I don’t have kids or bunk beds but I hate putting sheets on period. So I can just imagine. I think I’d make the kids go without sheets. They’re overrated. Heck. Make the kids sleep on the floor. Back in the day, kids had to sleep on dirt grounds. So really, carpet is good. It’s a step up.

  21. Here’s my trick: I take the mattress completely off the bed, put 3 or 4 fitted sheets on it, put the mattress back on the top. Then I just take the sheets off one by one, wash them and put them away, then when it’s down to the last sheet I repeat the process.

    You’re welcome.

  22. I am so relieved to see all the comments saying they just don’t change the sheets, because I *hate* this job, and my kids’ bunk beds aren’t anywhere near as “serious” as yours.

  23. I asked my mom the same thing & I tweeted it at the time too: Why didn’t anyone tell me how hard it is to change sheets on bunk beds. Sorry I didn’t warn you. We took the boys’ bunk beds apart when Robey broke his arm & they’re staying that way now.

  24. OMG. Just read Kate’s comment. I do that with the crib mattress, but NEVER thought about it w/ the bunk beds. How could I not have made that leap? GENIUS.

  25. Don’t you have a cleaning crew that comes occasionally? Barring any midnight accidents, just let them change the sheets. I can’t tell you the last time I changed Will’s sheets, and he just has a normal twin. (Scratch that. I think it was over a year ago when we moved his bedroom.)

  26. Oh shoot, sorry. Should have warned you. There are two solutions: 1.never change the sheets. Damn the vomit. 2. two words: sleeping bag. Also, put all the crap on the top bunk and make the child sleep on the lower. The sheet putting on still sucks, but at least you won’t fall off while rasslin’ those suckers into place.

  27. ah ha! I was feeling dumb for buying my 6 year old twins captain’s beds (technically “mate’s” beds since they are lower than captains) instead of bunk beds. Now I feel wise and wonderful! Especially since, coincidentally, there was puking in one of the beds last night!

  28. The set you showed is absolutely beautiful. We have not gone with bunk beds for the simple reason that I do not trust the boys not to try to make a contest out of jumping off the top bunk like some kind of high dive.

    I hadn’t even thought about changing the sheets; already a PITA because their twin beds are in the corners.

  29. Sarah. I feel it is my duty to point out to you that you are totally spoiling your children by supplying them with fresh sheets. Seriously? What is the point? Just let them get all stiff and crusty. . I’m thinking change them bi-annually?

  30. Ha ha ha.

    I just take the mattress off…replace sheet (yearly)…put mattress back on…no need to go to the gym!

  31. Darn it! I was hoping that one of your genius readers had a tip I could use. I hate hate changing his sheets. I do it but not nearly as often as my conscience would like me too!

  32. We got the 3YO a loft bed when he outgrew the toddler bed (and to convince him that he was a big boy and therefore needed to stay in his big boy bed instead of wandering to my room to kick his icy feet on my back all night).

    Anywho, I’ve pretty much given up hope on the neat bed thing. I keep the fitted sheet on it and then just keep the blankets loose and untucked. He doesn’t like the flat sheet anyway, preferring the soft blanket directly on his skin. That way I’m only folding two blankets and not having to scramble up a ladder each day to appease my neat-freakiness.

    Hope that helps. Good luck!

  33. I’m sorry. I didn’t tell you about the bunk bed sheets problem because I was blocking the horror from my mind. The barked knuckles, strained back, the pinched (on my wife) boobs – all blocked from my mind.

  34. First: An egalitarian approach to parenting? I don’t understand.

    Second: I can think of five different ways I would hurt myself if I tried to climb into/onto a bunk bed to change the sheets.

  35. If I changed them more than once every year or two I might have remembered to warn you! OK, we change them more than that, but not much. You have to use fitted sheets, flat sheets won’t stay in place.
    Top bunk: climb on the bunk, do the corners by the wall, then pull the sheet towards you as you crawl off the bed, then put the other corners on, repeat in a year!
    Also, it may be harder since you have pillow tops.

  36. I used to love bunk beds when I was a kid and now my children love them as well. They are a bit of a pain to change the sheets if you lived in a cramped space.

  37. i had the same thought last week as i put sheets on my son’s top bunk for the first time. i’m pissed off my aunt didn’t tell me how hard it was to put the sheets on before she gave us the damn bunk beds.

  38. You were in my house last night weren’t you? I loathe changing the top bunk most of all. Last night I had to change the bottom only. Why? Because the dog crapped in it. Yeah, our house rocks.

  39. $20 is not nearly enough.

    Based on the bedding, you should call these punk beds.

  40. I make my husband do it, because it totally BLOWS!!!

  41. No joke — we just started seriously talking about doing bunk beds for our girls yesterday, so this is very timely. I was feeling all gung-ho about it, but you’ve given me real pause…


    “I came to Sarah and the Goon Squad, and I learned something!”

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