Sleep is hard to come by lately. The problem began when we established the family bed. Sure it’s nice to snuggle with the kids, and they love it too. The trouble is, as the kids get bigger, the bed stays the same size.
The winter was no help. Obviously the kids desired the warmth of body heat, since they kicked off their blankets, and our house is old and drafty. Plus the steam registers clang and hiss like teakettles, which woke up the baby, Joey, in his crib. He screamed and screamed, and I was so tired of that.
I used to rock him and put him back in the crib. But Joey is not a good sleeper. Never has been. He has only slept through the night a handful of times in the 13 months of his life. The rocking chair is as worn out as I am. So he ended up in my bed instead.
Then my daughter, Lainey, age 6, joined us too. She first climbed into bed and claimed the heater woke her up. When in fact the heaters hadn’t run for an hour and the baby hadn’t cried either. Lainey just didn’t want to be left out. And so the co-sleeping began and remained the norm for several weeks.
And the kids were the worst bed hogs. Lainey slept diagonally, and Joey was all spread out. I hugged the edge of the bed and my wife clung to the foot of the mattress. Awful. We woke up every hour to reposition, and the morning came too soon. I needed lots of coffee, lots.
I wondered, “What’s the simplest (aka laziest) thing I could do to fix this situation?” Maybe our king-sized mattress just wasn’t big enough. So, I took a mattress off my daughter’s bunk bed and put it on the floor of my room.
Problem solved? Nope. Lainey wouldn’t sleep on it. She claimed she was scared at night and needed to be as close to us as possible. Being in the same room wasn’t good enough. My wife ended up sleeping on the bunk mattress.
I remember looking at my bed one night, seeing my wife on the floor and thinking, “My good lord. They’ve taken over.”
So I had to fix things again. The baby didn’t know any better, but Lainey could be reasoned with. “You’re afraid of the dark, Lainey?” I asked.
She nodded sheepishly.
“In first grade? Gees, Lainey, I knew a kindergartner who wasn’t afraid of the dark.”
“Me?” Lainey asked.
“Yeah, you. What’s the deal?”
“It’s just not fair that Joey gets to sleep with you guys!” Lainey cried.
“We can’t do this anymore!” I pleaded. “No one sleeps! This doesn’t work. There’s no room! It’s over. You have to stay in your bed. Period.”
“But, but, but,” Lainey stammered.
“Or no TV for a week!” I threatened.
Lainey cried and cried. But she stayed in her own bed that night and the next morning claimed she felt great. I even heard her brag to a friend that she had conquered her fear of the dark. Of course, the next night, guess who climbed into my bed again?
So please, the message is clear. Do not co-sleep. Don’t do it. Some argue that families have co-slept for centuries, that it gives the child a sense of security and belonging. And each family is unique. But for me, sleep trumps all. Nobody is happy without it. I say co-sleeping is a lazy habit and it will come back to bite you.
We had to start all over, especially with Joey. It’s hard work and progress is slow. But things will improve eventually. In fact, last night, we kept the baby up late, fed him late and get this: Me and the wife in bed alone— all the way from midnight to six! Heavenly. But who knows what tonight may bring.