The idea of co-sleeping or laying down with your kids before they fall asleep was a non-negotiable hell-to-the-naw for my wife as we were discussing the possibility of having children. When we did reproduce- we stuck to our guns- 6 weeks of age was old enough to be out on their own and in their own cribs.
This is the point where some would disagree and have some ancestral or emotional development-based argument as to why I am wrong- let them. There is enough pressure on parents to do everything right as it is.
When my son was less than a year old, he got to point where he just wouldn’t go to sleep at night. We had to keep a hand on him in his crib or gently bounce the crib mattress- for him to go to sleep.
There were times, while leaning over the crib rail with an arm that had lost feeling, a back in knots, with tears running down my face, all the while pleading with a higher being to just let him go to sleep. With the voice of Samuel L. Jackson reading “Go the F%&k to Sleep!” playing over and over in my head, I still didn’t pick up my baby and place him in bed with me nor contort myself to cuddle in a crib. My bed is my safe place I like my sleep!
Then there are arguments like: “they grow up so fast!,” “I just love they way they smell,” “they need to feel safe.” Yes, they do grow up fast. This fact can easily be noticed when their legs are arms are flailing in my bed ‘like a drunk Octopus looking for it’s car keys!’
I don’t know about enjoying the act of smelling the sleeping child beside you bit, but mine were only worth smelling before ‘the new baby smell’ wore off and after baths.
To the final argument, I do want my kids to feel safe. They can do this from behind the closed doors of their bedroom and from within the rails of their bunk beds.
Don’t get me wrong, when I hear crying or a call for help, I go. I am sympathetic to the cause of nightmares and ‘scary things’ in their rooms.
We do get to cuddle, just mostly awake. Occasionally, one will sneak in and under the covers, but only with me knowing that we are just minutes from the alarm going off.
There is a lot of pressure placed on new parents to have a plan, to set routines, to let the baby decide, use organic, etc. it is not my wish to demean the parents that co-sleep, lay down with, or even those with teenage children still insisting on sharing their beds. Each parenting team should decide what is right from them and their children.
As for my wife and I, we wanted our children to be comfortable in their own rooms and beds, we wanted to set up the idea of boundaries and routines and bedtime is one of the few tasks that occur each day and we were determined to make it as smooth as possible- even if it means trying again the next night- parenting can be hard enough- why do it without enough sleep?