In my almost five years as a mom, I’ve been lucky to avoid most of the controversial issues that pit parents against one another. I received mostly positive reinforcement and reactions over my decisions to breastfeed, stay at home, use discipline other than spanking, return to work part-time, wait an additional year to send my son to kindergarten and avoid processed foods.
Obviously, I’ve met those along the way that disagree with me and my methods, but for the most part, they’ve been respectful of our differences.
Respectful, that is, except for the issue of co-sleeping.
My husband and I have co-slept with both kids at some point. Our son and the two of us in our bed, or one of us and our son in his bed. Me on the couch with our daughter, or her in the bed with my husband, or even all three of us in our queen size bed when she was a days old newborn. My son was just two years old when my second baby was born, and had stopped napping. It took my daughter eight weeks to sort out the difference between night and day and she wanted to nurse approximately every 27 minutes. Having her in the bed with us was the only was I got any sleep.
It worked for us, but when people found out we were co-sleeping, the reactions were definitely negative. One person called it “unnatural.” Someone else said “weird.” I also heard “gross,” and “unacceptable.” One person went as far to tell my husband that under NO circumstances should our son be in our bed. Plenty of people have offered their advice for how to “get that kid out of your bed.”
They are two and four now and I’m still no closer to understanding why so many people have such a problem with co-sleeping, or why they think we do it reluctantly instead of purposely.
There’s more. I wish the detractors would understand one simple thing: co-sleeping doesn’t have to be an all or nothing deal.
My family are what I call part-time co-sleepers. We do it when it works for us, and we don’t do it when it doesn’t. If one of the kids is sick or not sleeping well or needs comforting, we share a bed. If my spouse or myself need some space or the kids are happy, healthy and sleeping well, they sleep in their own beds.
They do share a room, although they are in separate beds and I do feel that that has helped make our choice to part-time co-sleep easier. Room sharing has it’s pros and it’s cons, but that’s another post.
Each morning, when my son wakes up, he comes down the hall and if I’m still in bed, he climbs in with me and we snuggle. It’s my favorite part of the day.
More often than not, these days the kids sleep in their beds in their room, but the frequency of co-sleeping has waxed and waned over the years.
Part-time co-sleeping has been the perfect way for us to find balance between two extremes. On one hand, I like to sleep sometimes without little feet digging into my ribs and having the kids in the bed with us all the time is too intrusive. On the other hand, making my children always sleep away from us, in their own beds and ignoring the benefits of co-sleeping is an idea that makes me uncomfortable and isn’t the right choice for us either. By choosing the middle ground and doing a little of both, we’ve arranged things so our number one priority is met–everyone is happy.
How do you feel about part-time co-sleeping? Has it worked for you?