There are quite a few so called ‘controversial parenting topics’ I have tended to steer clear of writing about in the past; breastfeeding, controlled crying and discipline to name a few. But today I’m going to go there…I’m going to talk about co-sleeping.
We’ve never really done the whole co-sleeping thing in our house; it’s not that I’m against it or anything, it just that it doesn’t work for us. I’m a really light sleeper and we all know what sleeping with a kid is a like- knees in your back, getting hit in the face, snoring in your ears, being squished right to the very edge of the bed…I end up getting no sleep whatsoever! Our son doesn’t get up during the night and come to our bed and he doesn’t ask to sleep with us; I guess maybe because it’s just how it’s been from the start. We never had him in bed with us as a baby and he was in his own room from about three weeks of age. He did however go through a stage recently where he wanted me to sleep in his bed with him. I was in two minds about it. He was going through a lot of changes- finishing day care, starting kinder and I got the feeling he just needed that extra comfort. But I knew once I started it would become a habit and habits are hard to break. I wanted him to sleep easily and to feel safe but I also wanted my own time of an evening and time with my husband…I didn’t really know what to do!
I remembered a story I saw on Sunrise a few months ago about a family who all sleep in the same room. I guess the story was unique because the couple had something like six or seven young children. They had a king size bed in the middle of their master bedroom surrounded by three bunk beds. My first reaction? That’s crazy! So I turned up the volume to listen. Turns out the family had recently returned from a year long trip. They had spent the past twelve months sleeping in very close quarters in a caravan and when they returned home being separated at night was causing major anxiety in the children. So they came up with the solution of co-sleeping to the extreme and it was working for them. Having that many children they also found that when they were all in separate rooms they had to get up countless times during the night and everyone was suffering from lack of sleep. Being in the same room, everyone started sleeping through the night or if any of the children did wake they were easily settled with a quick cuddle. It all kind of made sense. Of course Kochie asked the question I’m sure you’re all thinking (I know I was), if they were sharing a room with all of their kids how did manage to be intimate? “Well there are plenty of other places to have sex then in the bed” they answered. Good on them I thought!
So I tried to just stop worrying and go with the flow. I began to lay down with my son to get him to sleep each night and then would slowly creep out once he was asleep. Of course then he started waking in the middle of the night wondering where I was so I would crawl back into his bed at some ungodly hour of the morning and he would sleep while I would lay there awake, hanging over the edge of the bed. I tried to just go with it, really I did, but it just wasn’t working, in fact it seemed to be only making things worse. So I talked to him about it and explained that his bed just wasn’t big enough for the both of us and Mummy wasn’t getting any sleep. There were tears and I did feel bad. We made a compromise and for the past few weeks I have been sitting beside his bed and holding his hand until he drifts off. If he wakes during the night (which seems to be getting less and less frequent) I do the same. It seems to be working…for all of us.
I guess my whole point is that you’ve just got to do what works for you. Sometimes that may take a bit of trial and error to figure out and that’s ok. I think this applies to everything in parenting. If you want to co-sleep, do it, if you don’t then don’t and don’t judge others for the parenting choices they make- we’re all just trying to figure it out and do what we think is best.
What are the sleeping arrangements like in your house? Do you co-sleep, bed hop or do you have a strict ‘sleep in your own bed’ policy?