Having kids sleep in your bed is a timeless problem that most parents face. I struggled with co-sleeping and this is what I learned.
To sleep or not to sleep, that was the question, at least in my house. Having 3 children under the age of 4, I faced many little difficulties. One of my biggest struggles was getting all 3 of my pint sized balls of energy to sleep, more specifically to sleep in their own beds.
I had a strict bed time routine which included, bath, books, bed. It all went according to plan some nights but other nights, there was no way to get all my little darlings to sleep in their own beds. And it seemed if one was up, they were all up. I would end up having one, two or possibly all three in my over sized California king mattress bought because of this fact.
Many nights, it came down to me getting a good night sleep or playing the bed jumping game which included a child falling asleep in my bed, carrying them to their bed, them waking up and coming in my bed again, my husband then going to sleep in their bed, and it could go on like this all night.
I tried very diligently to get all this bed jumping under control, imploring tough love, rewards and punishments. I read books and watched Nanny 911 to try to train my little angels to stay in their beds. I spoke with other moms and friends. I had one friend in particular who warned me of the repercussions of co-sleeping including my children never gaining independence and always being fearful to be alone.
One of my kids was particularly found of co sleeping with us. And I have to admit, at some point, we just gave up. If my little cherub had a hard time falling asleep and would come in our bed, we just let her. It was too hard dude, and it really came down to having a good night sleep. I also felt in my heart that she needed it, I did not know why, but I felt it. So we would make the adjustments and this young child of mine, slept more with me in my bed than in her own bed.
Like all moms, I worried. Was I somehow damaging her psyche creating a person who would be co-dependent on others, forever afraid to sleep alone, not to mention function as a whole person? Was I putting a good night sleep before my child’s healthy development? Was I a horrible mother?
Well the answer is a simple and resounding, Nope. I have the benefit of hind sight now that my kids are all teenagers and I can tell you, co-sleeping did not harm them one iota, in fact, I believe it assisted them in becoming independent, trusting, bonded and confident.
Some children require a little more comfort especially at night when their room is dark and the shadows are long. If you have a child like this, I believe, you should give them this needed reassurance that all is good and safe. If co-sleeping is needed, I found that it is compassionate to see this need and meet it with comfort.
Despite what my friend told me, co-sleeping is quite normal and healthy. In the essay Co-Sleeping Around the World , James J. McKenna, Ph.D. writes, “For the overwhelming majority of mothers and babies around the globe today, co-sleeping is an unquestioned practice.” He goes on to state, “Cosleeping is actually more common in the U.S. than most people believe. Parents present themselves as having babies who sleep alone, following the societal norm of the baby in the baby’s room and the couple in the master bedroom, but that is not an accurate representation of what is really happening.”
I am not really sure why Americans look down on co-sleeping and looking back, I spent way too much time worrying about it. It is nice to look back at some of your decisions made as a mother and realize you were right in following your instincts. I felt that my little girl needed to co-sleep to feel safe, I respected her feelings and I met them with love and compassion, not silly culturally biased rules. I knew that she would not be in my bed forever and I was right.
One night she informed me, “Mom, I am going to sleep all night in my own bed tonight.” And she did and that was that. She no longer needed the safety of my bed, she had crossed a thresh hold and I don’t know why and I don’t know how, but she did.
I would like to inform everyone that this little girl has grown up to be a very independent, confident, trusting young lady. I can assure you that co-sleeping with me for that period of time, assisted in this and I am glad I was there to help her through it with love.
I just want to tell any parent out there who is struggling with co-sleeping, it is normal, it is healthy and it is sometimes needed. So stop struggling and just enjoy it. You only have so long to cuddle that little bundle, so relish it while you can.