The Secret Co-Sleeping Circus

Today I woke up to the sudden jolt of a foot on my face. Literally, a small, cold, wiggly little foot, planted directly on my left cheek. Last week I fell asleep with two small hands cupping my face. Oh, yeah…the co- sleeping life. We didn’t choose it; it kind of chose us.

We lasted about two years before our son, who is now four, started sleeping in our bed. But, then came the crazy day he climbed out of his crib, ran out of his room, sprinted into the living room and started playing right away.  He didn’t even stop one second to look at our shocked faces and jaws on the floor.  We were both like what in THE heck just happened? 

Once he could get out of his crib, we thought a gate would work.

Nope.

So we stacked another gate on top of the first gate.

Success!

Or so we thought. Ok, so he was no longer able to get out of his room, but here’s what he could do (and often): Cry. Scream. Kick. Yell. Babble incoherently. All of this translated into us not getting any sleep.

Ultimately, after many different strategies and failed attempts to get our son comfortable with sleeping on his own, we gave in. I had never envisioned us being co-sleeping parents, but the bottom line was, we all (desperately) needed sleep. 

Sweet, sweet sleep.

And obviously our boy felt more comfortable with us, so that’s ok…right? Right? We came to terms with the fact that we were officially, yet secretly, co-sleeping parents. It is not that we were/are necessarily ashamed of it, but we prefer not to advertise it. It’s definitely nice to avoid the, “Oh, he sleeps with you? In your bed?” responses and the wide-eyed looks that are a mix of sympathy and “What the heck is wrong with you?!”

I enjoy co-sleeping with my stage-five clinger, but I definitely do not fault those who choose not to do it. 

In fact, I always have a twinge of positive envy, like, “Way to go, guys! You’re really doing it!

It must feel fabulous to have extra space and quiet time…and sex. I hope all of you non-co-sleeping parents are having tons of mind-blowing sex!

But seriously, I like co-sleeping with our toddler because he’s our little best friend, and it’s nice knowing he’s safe. When I wake up in the middle of the night and his head is on my tummy, or he’s snoring away next to me on his Ninja Turtles pillow, I feel so blessed to have this beautiful boy with me.If he’s sick, we can keep an eye on him.If there was ever an emergency, he’s with us. 

Before falling asleep, he even entertains us with many stories about a character called “Paco the Taco.” Yep, no idea where that came from, but hey, tacos.

Anyways, the obvious drawbacks are that intimacy is affected, things can get a little cramped and we worry a little bit about what awaits us down the road. With our son and dog in the bed, it’s like a little circus some nights; a nice mix of toddler ramblings and spastic movements, followed by doggie growls (I swear I’ve even heard him sigh) and hasty repositioning, both triggered by the toddler.

And it can be a little scary at times. 

Around midnight the other night, my son rose up slowly in the bed and started counting. With emphasis. With his eyes shut.

“One, two, three, FOUR, six, ELEVEN, two, three, five, ONE.”

Then he dropped down and instantly fell asleep.

This little counting show illuminated we definitely need to work on his numbers, but hey, a little midnight practice is good, right? Slightly terrifying, but good.

Undoubtedly, we know this co-sleeping won’t continue forever, just like breastfeeding faded and diapers ended. It will go on until it doesn’t, and before it is considered, well, creepy. I know he’s not going to be walking across the stage the day of his high school graduation, still stuck in the stage of sleeping in our bed. As I’ve heard before and expressed myself, I know these times won’t last. 

So I cherish them all now. 

Even if it means I wake up tired or with the occasional back pain or a kink in my neck or drool on my face; it’s all worth it. Extra snuggles and big belly laughs and Paco the Taco all totally make it worth it.

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4 Responses to The Secret Co-Sleeping Circus

  1. Robert March 29, 2017 at 2:32 am #

    Just wanted to say this article put a smile on my face One of only a few in last few years as you see I lost my boy at 16 in Feb 2015 after a short 7 weeks with Lukemia treatments and mold Every parent ( lets all hope so ) loves their child but I honestly believe it’s the formative years that actually form more then we realize Our society has become one that’s always worried about being politically or socially correct. I fully understand when Andree says they were secretly allowing it Today there is just something about it that says it’s wrong or would even imply there is something wrong morally with the parent. Or just a ” your making a big mistake ” type of thing
    I also understand the realization that you don’t know how it will all transition one day and God knows I also understand the need for good solid peaceful sleep
    Let me say the smile this article gave me was from the memories it produced Almost the same scenario and let me tell you how it all turned out.
    Robbie was by his God given nature a loving boy but I honestly believe sleeping with us enhanced many very positive things in his life. He was always a very secure boy in a time when life even for children seems to be moving so fast Sleeping with us created a far far deeper bond It does this naturally. I remember the pure joy of holding him while he slept peacefully sound can the attempts to make him sleep in his own bed. I would encourage anyone to use the time in bed to sow good things into them. With my son I started reading to him. There were the normal children’s books. It not for long Robbie liked life and we didn’t baby him although that’s not to say he wasn’t loved deeply I remember a time I had thought he had fallen asleep and then suddenly the little guy sat up in bed, looked at me and with very pronounced facial and lip expressions said, Eee Eee Ahh Ahh Oooo , smiled and fell back in bed curled up under my arms as I laughed at him and he fell peacefully asleep. I have many memories as the years added onto each other of reading every father son book I coukd think of Books like Moby Dick and How the West Was Won and his favorites were the Tom Sawyer and Advevtures of Huck Finn Every night he looked forward to maybe half a chapter Then a simple prayer out loud built more character in my son then I see anywhere in other boys. Thats all I did but it meant the world. Robbie was very secure as a young teenage boy and always seemed ahead of those his age. We believe that came from the amount of quality time he was with us. Notice I didn’t just say quality time I said the amount of quality time. Today it’s popular to believe it’s not how much time one spends with their children it’s that when you do to somehow make that quality time. I think the quality comes from the quantity as that’s what our kids need.
    I won’t keep rambling other then to say as far as the transition away from it don’t worry it will happen naturally. There will come a time when you can begin to mention to him that he can start to sleep in his own bed whenever he wants and at some point he will want to. Be sure he knows whenever he does that that won’t change the bedtime stories or you tucking him in etc Yes it will seem like he may be sleeping with you when he is alittke too old but remember boys don’t mature as fast as girls but the time will come when you will know it’s right and if you push just alittke and make sure he knows the things that make him feel secure will remain If it’s painful then in my opinion it’s pushed too hard. In my opinion I wasn’t going to allow him to be molded by this choice only to tear him from it because suddenly I think it’s time and he needs to obey. I didnt make it about that. The entire time was a bonding and a trust. A love relationship where I never stopped being his father and him my son but that also meant he trusted me and he could. I’m. It sure how old Robbie was before he made the jump. Maybe 8 I’m not sure We did it together It wasn’t traumatizing for him I instead laid in his bed read the stories. Talked and prayed and would lay there until he fell asleep Important the first few times to not rush getting out do it doesn’t teach him to be anxious nightly about you leaving. There is a balance between what we call good parenthood choices and loving our kids. It seemed natural to allow him to sleep with us then to fight him to do so by himself. I’m sure many will disagree and that’s ok All I kmiw is theoughout more of history then not entire families slept together Yes out of necessity but also out of what was natural. Children naturally want to be near their parents when they sleep It’s not natural it’s our formed society that says good parenting is to seperate.
    Anyone that knew my son knew how great a person he was. I’m not saying it was all a result of him sleeping with us but I am saying that facilitated a bond a love and quality time that did
    Lastly let me say this. There is absolutely nothing that in any way guarantees life You are Not guaranteed your children will out live you There is nothing that guarantees anyone tomorrow
    You have heard it said the only two things that are guaranteed is death and taxes. I believe that is correct regardless if you ever give it any thought
    Our lives have been shattered by the loss of our son The world needs more young men in it like him. Young women need secure real young men to love and care for them Why my son I may never fully understand but my advise is to not take them for granted. I have only ONE regret I live with as my heart is crushed missing my boy and that’s not dragging the bed mattress out on the back patio on one of the star filled nights as Robbie often wanted to do As painful as that one thing is I can honestly say I have NO other regrets. I sowed into my boy. I loved him as a father and a man. My son gave me reason to want to be the man I wanted him to be No career no business no amount of money is worth any compromised time with your kids If you lose one one day you will know exactly how true that statement is
    I’m sure there is always a need for wisdom as in everything including letting your kids sleep with you. If your out of control and your kids are walking all over you then you have bigger problems that may be complicated by such a choice. With mixed families and step parents great wisdom should be used as we do live in a sick world and chances should never be something we do with our kids
    My experience and life was not like that and I’m veey thankful

    • Andee Bookmyer
      Andee Bookmyer March 29, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

      Robert, thank you so much for reading and for also sharing your story and experiences. I am so very, very sorry for your immense loss. I loved your insights and life lessons to all of us parents. We have no guarantees, and life is short. Thanks again for taking time to respond and enlighten.

  2. Sherri May 8, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

    I love this article and the response from Robert, who I send heartfelt blessings to for his loss. What a lucky boy your son was Robert, to have you as his father and mentor.

    I also let my children sleep in my room when they need/ want to. It’s definitely a bonding time. I have a teenage girl and a pre-teen boy. At their ages this doesn’t happen a lot, but when the time arises, that’s when I know there is something more going on inside their worlds and I let them bring it up or not at all. I do make them sleep on the side or at the end of the bed on either a blow up mattress or just on blankets – however they can make it more comfortable! ha To them, It’s knowing that mom is there and the comfort of it. For me, I sleep better feeling such bond and they sleep much better too. So much is going on with both of them between school, sports, jobs, friends, activities, etc. that I have no problem spending this kind of time with them – just being together is priceless and Robert is exactly right – it’s the quality of time spent, however chosen to do so. I know as time goes on, it will cease as they become young adults, but for now, I will cherish these moments forever.

  3. Andee
    Andee May 12, 2017 at 9:39 am #

    Thank you so much for reading and responding, Sherri! We will cherish these moments forever indeed. I appreciate your kind words toward myself and another reader (Robert), as well as reading about your experiences and what resonates with you as a co-sleeping parent.

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