Sunday, December 29, 2013

Co-sleeping: What If They Sleep With You FOREVER?!

I've written a few things about sleep over the years, but as I'm looking through the archives, I seem to have written mostly about what we do instead of bedtimes and not much on co-sleeping. 

We have always coslept with the kids.  From the day E was born, her bassinet became a clothes basket and she slept on my chest.  When she was two and I was pregnant with L, we wanted to prepare her for the baby's birth by getting her out of our bed before L was born.  So we started doing a routine before bed, and I would lay down with her in her bed and nurse her to sleep.  Sometimes this took an hour!  Then I'd sneak away and she'd wake up not long after.  It became a source of frustration for all of us, and we decided that she was clearly telling us that she was not ready to be in her own bed.  So she came back to our bed, and when L was born we slept with both of them. 

After a while, we put both beds in our room.  We had a king and a twin pushed up against each other, so we all had enough room.  Then Z was born.  Right after Z was born, we moved and got new beds.  We have had a double and a bunk bed pushed together for the last few years. 

Technically, the top bunk has been E's and the bottom bunk has been L's.  In reality, we've had all combinations of sleeping arrangements depending on the night.  D has often taken the couch, both because he finds it more comfortable than our bed, because he likes falling asleep to the noise of the tv, and because the kids want to sleep with me.  Four people in a double bed is not comfortable though, so I often move one or two of them to the bottom bunk after they fall asleep.   Or one of them falls asleep with D on the couch.  Or I move to the couch with D after they are asleep.  Or D and I sleep on the bottom bunk until Z wakes up wanting to nurse.  In other words, we get creative!

Then for the last few months, E has started wanting to sleep in her own bed.  I can't say exactly when this happened, but somewhere around 7.5 years old.  Yes, that's right, she bedshared that long. Shocking in western cultures, but completely normal in many, if not most, parts of the world, for most of history.  All of a sudden, she was just ready to have her own space.  She would still fall asleep with me sometimes, but instead of moving her to the bottom bunk, I was able to start just nudging her awake and telling her to climb up into her own bed. 

We are waiting on the possibility of being able to move into a new house.  This will give us more bedrooms and allow E and L to have their own rooms.  E has been really excited about this and wanting to prepare herself for sleeping in her own room.  So she started sleeping in their room (which is used as a play room) on their couch.  She told us she was ready to have her own bed in there.  After a few successful nights, we agreed to move it and we did that today. 

She's so excited!  I tucked her in tonight with her night light and some books.  L laid with her for a while, but then came back to bed with me.  It remains to be seen if this is truly a permanent move for E, but I'm pretty sure it is.  She's getting older and needs her own space. 

So if you're cosleeping and getting flack from people about it, just tell them that you're 100% sure the kid won't be sleeping with you by the time they go off to college.  If you're feeling cheeky.  Otherwise, tell them to mind their own damn business.  Parenting doesn't stop at 8pm.  Kids still need us at night and sometimes all they need is to be able to reach their hand out and know that we are there.  That doesn't last forever.  They grow and change and THEY recognize their own needs for space without being pushed into it. 

Oh and the big question that seems to concern amusing numbers of people..... "Where do you have sex if the kids are in your bed?"  Seriously?  If you can't imagine other places in the house to have sex, you really need to spice up your sex life.  If it's a surface you can sit on or lay on, you can have sex on it.  It's not complicated, people. 

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