Kids sleep with parents. I know I did. Whether they’re sick or having bad dreams or simply fall asleep during a bedtime story, there is something irresistible about allowing the little ones to sleep in bed with you. Lots of parents take it a step further and practice co-sleeping—meaning there are little beings sleeping with you all of the time. I’m sure there are cultures—probably in colder climates—who swear by this. We decided that as appealing as the idea might seem we weren’t ready for the drama involved in getting the kid to eventually sleep in his own bed. You only have to watch Supernanny one time to discover that this is problem number one with bad parents. Often there are six year olds still sleeping with their parents. We also figured that intimacy between us would already take a hit with little kids in the house, we surely didn’t want to compound it by having them in bed too.
Lately we have found that our son is ending up in our bed a little more frequently. I think he has managed to sleep with Daddy and Papa, three out of four nights in the last week. In part he has been sick and his congestion has made it difficult for him to remain asleep. So he wakes and cries out waiting to get the okay to get out of bed. Then he gets down out of his toddler bed and trundles over to our room dragging his blankets. And like magic the moment he snuggles down under the covers in between us, he is out. The other night Darrow laid him down and when I kissed his cheek, I realized that he had already clocked-out. It was almost instantaneous.
The problem with sleeping together is that he’s not a good co-sleeper. I have written before on this subject. After a few minutes there is the first slap usually on my head, then there is a kick and the covers at some point go flying off. They he flips and spins and slowly but surely nudges me closer and closer to the edge of the bed. We might settle down for a good sleep, maybe an hour or so, but eventually it’s–whap, smack and I am awake again. Sometimes I pile up all the pillows on the side of the bed so he doesn’t roll off and head to the guest room to sleep.
The other night after I got over his cuteness and there were the first couple whaps, I determined that T was going back to his room. At the first snore, I reached down and scooped him up with his blankets and carried him back to his bed. He woke and said, “Daddy come.” Meaning he wanted Darrow to come with us and kiss him good night again. We kissed him and put him down in his bed. That worked until a few hours later when he started crying again. Again he trundled over and we were all in the bed together again. I got another hour or so of sleep, but it wasn’t a particularly restful one.
At some point this morning as we heard our son calling for us, Darrow said to me that the next night we were “gonna do battle.” It’s hard on me, on us, because the lack of sleep begins to pile up each night. The thing is, he is okay with waking up throughout the night because he gets his big fat, juicy nap everyday at day care. I don’t have that luxury. So while I love the notion of sleeping with our little guy, the reality of it is just impossible.
So last night after we expressed to each other how utterly exhausted we were, the battle lines were drawn. He wore his fire engine jammies, and we read in order: A Train Goes Clickety-Clack, Thomas the Tank Engine and the T-Rex, Kitty’s Cuddles and finally, that perennial favorite Blue Train, Green Train. Kisses on both sides of the cheek, two blankets and off to bed with you. He slept the whole night without a peep.
You worry about setting precedent; you worry about creating expectations; you worry that neither he nor you will ever have a descent night’s sleep again. Then life takes its unexpected turn. Peace, calm, everyone sleeps. You will not be one of those parents on Supernanny, instead he will get up on occasion and climb into your bed, but most of the time, as always he will sleep through the night…..and so will you.