Our family accidentally became co-sleepers.
My husband and I never intended to share our bed with our children but we didn't really try to stop it from happening. We don't have any ideological belief about sharing or not sharing our bed with our children. We are simply two adults that just want to get as much sleep as possible. We are desperate for sleep and we hate big meltdowns in the middle of the night. Sometimes that means we let our children sleep in our bed.
The secret is that we actually really enjoy snuggling in the bed with our little ones.
We are total pushovers because not only do we love to cuddle with our kids, we also always say, "They're only little once!" This basically means that they get away with a lot more because we know soon they will be too big and too cool for us. But even though I sort of love co-sleeping with my kids, I also know that I don't get much sleep when one or both of our kids is in the bed with us.
When we first became parents, we tried to keep our son out of the bed.
When he was a little baby, I was actually really scared to sleep next to him. But when Wolfy was about four months old, I started falling asleep during our late night nursing sessions and falling asleep while holding my baby was even scarier than purposefully sleeping next to him, so I started bringing him into my bed.
Then when our son was about ten months, he started trying to have these baby-parties in the middle of the night. He would be up for hours, babbling, laughing, fussing, and nursing. Finally one night at about 3:30 a.m., my husband and I hit our breaking point. We put him in his crib and had him cry it out. I would say that we felt terrible and guilty about it, but I think we were too tired to really have any feelings. I remember it was so hard not to go in and get him but right when he got really upset and I couldn't stand it, he suddenly stopped crying. A few minutes later, I went in and he was deeply asleep. It was like magic. After that, Wolfy slept in his own bed and my husband and I felt like new people.
We were new well-rested people; a married couple with our bed to ourselves. We wondered why we hadn't made our son sleep on his own sooner.
Then just before Wolfy turned two years old, we moved. I always say that when we moved, Wolfy moved right into our bed. I think he might have slept one night in his bed at the "new house." After that, he was always in our bed. All night, every night. We were co-sleepers again. At one point, Wolfy didn't even have a bed in his room. Our bed was his bed and that was it.
Finally this spring, when Wolfy was three and a half years old and we had a newborn baby, we used a sticker chart and got Wolfy to sleep in his own bed and then finally in his room. No tears. At that point, our baby girl was sleeping in a co-sleeper or a swing or in our bed or all three places during the course of a night. As soon as Wolfy was out of the bed, it was like she sensed the vacancy and immediately moved in.
For a while, I accepted that my husband and I would never have our bed to ourselves.
But then our baby girl became even wiser. She realized that since she was sleeping in the bed with me, why not just nurse all night. All. Night. No pacifiers, no snuggling with my husband, no substitutions. Sometimes she would fall asleep and I could huddle with my husband on the far end of the bed but soon she would wake up and freak out because she wasn't nursing. It was an all night feeding frenzy. That's when I knew I had to reclaim my bed or pretty much die trying. Sure, I spent a few more nights being a human pacifier, hoping beyond hope that she would just forget about the whole all night nurse-a-thon. But who wants to give up a personal 24/7 buffet? Finally one night at bedtime, when I couldn't face another night of nursing, I said, "I can't do this anymore. I'm going to have her cry it out." I was really scared. She seems too little to sleep on her own -- not quite six months old.
First my husband tried to put her to bed without nursing. He paced back and forth with her fussing and protesting. There was no sign of her falling asleep in his arms. Finally we clenched our teeth and put her down in her crib. She cried for five minutes. Five minutes! And then she passed out until morning. I'm not kidding. She's pretty much slept through the night in her own bed with very little crying ever since.
The joke's on us, I suppose. At least we reclaimed our bed. I would say it will be this way for once and for all, but you know, we're pushovers. Pushovers who really like to cuddle.