I am lying in the dark, listening to my son’s breathing becoming heavy with sleep as he drifts off to a world I cannot see. His chubby hand rests protectively over my face, as my own fingers rhythmically stroke his silky soft hair. Gently kissing him on his soft, warm cheek, I breath “I love you” into his ear, before climbing out of bed to head downstairs for the evening. I know that in a few short hours I will be back in bed, snuggled up between my little angel on one side, his daddy on the other.
Some people gasp in shock when they hear that at two and a half years old, not only have my son and I never spent a night apart, but he is still not even in his own bed. Even more shockingly, they discover that it is not an ongoing battle between the three of us, but a conscious choice. We don’t even have a bed in the room we call his “bedroom.” We haven’t tried and “given in,” we are simply happy with the way things are.
So why have we chosen this unconventional path? The reasons are numerous.
When we first began co-sleeping, we talked frequently about when we should stop. It was a big source of stress: thinking about it, trying to keep in control of the situation. When he reached one year old, an age we had had in the back of our minds to move him to his own bed (though still in our room) we realised that none of us were ready. Things were going fine, we were all settled and happy and when we really thought about our reasons for kicking him out, it really came down to one simple point :
Because society demands it.
The final push for me was realising that I had my husband’s full support in continuing as we were. Knowing that there was no way I was going to climb out of bed numerous times a night to attend to our son, he could foresee his nights becoming very disturbed as he was roped in to helping with the night time duties.
As far as we could see, there was entirely no benefit to moving him, and a huge list of reasons not to do it, such as less sleep for all of us, missing him immeasurably, and perhaps most importantly, letting go of the incredible connection and bond we had forged from sleeping together as a family. From that moment we let go of trying to be in control, and simply enjoyed the present. We knew he wouldn’t want to stay in our bed forever, and that one day he would feel ready to move in to his own space.
It is a child’s job to fly the nest, not the mother’s responsibility to push him.
In Japan, co-sleeping is the norm and children will often sleep with a parent up until their teens. Rather than being psychologically damaging or holding them back, the security and connection co-sleeping brings with it, actually enables children to feel more confident in themselves. It is not unusual for these children to display what typical westerners may consider a very surprising amount of independence in their daily tasks.
Bed-sharing is how the majority of families in the world sleep, and from trying it myself, I can easily understand why.
So when people ask in shock, horror and occasionally disgust why we haven’t moved him out of our room, or even our bed, I simply reply with a smile:
“Because we are happy as things are.”
Did you choose to co-sleep with your child? How do you feel it affected your connection as a family?
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