The topic this month had me feeling a little anxious and thinking "what on Earth should I say?" But as I began to write, I found myself reminiscing on the first few years of motherhood and those tough days with my babies...
Letting go of our ideals and getting the rest we need... Why we share a bed with our kids.
Sure, we've always had plenty of room for our family of four to have our own sleeping spaces, but for the last two and a half years, we've all slept within the same room. As I typed that, it seems like some kind of dirty secret I'm letting out of the box, but in my heart I know it's been the best option for us.
How we got here was a combination of a toddler with sensory issues that caused really poor sleep (yep, she didn't sleep through the night until after turning 3) and having two kids only two years apart. Looking back, it was silly (and stressful) that we stuck to societal norms and forced our oldest to sleep in her room, even if that meant we often dozed off in a chair in her room instead of making it to our own bed. But that's what we did for two years... Always bringing her back to her room each time she woke up (sometimes 3-4 times each night), never being able to sneak out of her room once she was finally asleep because that child could hear anything! But when our second child was born, I couldn't handle the sleep deprivation. So I began to look into co-sleeping with our youngest thinking that she could nurse her heart out and I could potentially get some rest. My husband stepped in to take care of the toddler while I handled the newborn. Except that he worked a full time job which meant sleep was crucial for himself too. That's when it happened. We ended up with two kids in our bedroom. And they've been there ever since.
While I know there are people out there who co-sleep for several years with their littles, I don't personally know a single one of them. And so, it's often felt shameful, something to hide from family or friends. Those who know us still slip in the occasional “when will Jules stop breastfeeding?” which to me is also a way to inquire about sleeping arrangements seeing as she only nurses around bedtime. Or for example, when we bought our two-bedroom house - up-sizing from the one-bedroom apartment, “so the girls will share a room now?” Even though our friends and family mean well, I am still often questioned about our families choices. I get it… It's different. It's not what they are used to. Heck, it's been ingrained in me even, that kids should have their space, they should not require their parents 24-7, they should be able to spend nights away from us even at a young age. If it hadn't been for my sensitive little girl who wouldn't take a bottle, I would still believe that. Instead, she forced me to think outside the box. To realize there are thousands of ways in which to do something. To understand that it's OK to be different.
Now that I have become more comfortable in my own motherly skin I can say that while some kids are fine being away from their parents, mine were not. And I'm OK with that. They can sleep in our room until they are ready for their own space. Although I'm definitely looking forward to the first time that I can sleep completely through the night again!
This post was written for inclusion in the October 2018 collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series. And if there is a topic you'd like to see us write about, let us know!
Small Family Home -- "Tiny Living with Kids: Sleeping Arrangements" : Finding room for everyone when there aren't enough rooms for everyone.
A Life Shift -- "How We Host a Dinner Party in 590 sq ft" : Why we kick Campbell out of his room - and where he sleeps instead - while we entertain guests in our 590 sq ft apartment.
Tiny Shiny Home -- "Let's Talk About Beds Baby" : I hope I got an old Salt-N-Pepa song stuck in your head. If not, just continue on with your day, but first read this post where I address where we all sleep in this tiny home on wheels!
Deeper Meaning Travels -- "How We Sleep in a Small Space (with kids)" : Living in a small space can be a challenge, but add children into the mix. See how we sleep in a small space in our RV home, with our two children in tow.
Little Bungalow -- "Formerly Known As Den?" : Mulling over all the sleeping arrangement options for our two girls in our two bedroom house.