Let me start by saying that I know a lot of people think co-sleeping is fantastic including some of my close friends. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and this is mine. I’m not trying to convince anyone to change their view.
That being said, I know some parents who share my opinion and they are afraid to speak up for fear of being negatively judged by anyone who is in favor of co-sleeping. Doing things differently from others don’t make you a bad parent; it just means it doesn’t work for your family.
For a couple of months, my 4-year-old has thought her place at night is in our queen-sized bed and my husband’s position in the same bed is rather arbitrary. She’s said that he should sleep in the spare room. She starts out in her own bed, but comes to ours sometime in the middle of the night. I think she knows she has a better chance of getting to actually stay there if it’s so late that we won’t want to argue with her. I give her kudos on that one. The other night, it happened that we went to bed later than usual and she came to our room earlier than usual, so I got zero sleep. ZERO. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t think straight and ended up taking a half day off work because of it.
For all the people who think it’s cute and cuddly to sleep with your child, it’s not true in my case. It goes along the same lines as thinking that making love in real life happens as it does in the movies when you’re a virgin. Sleeping with a flailing, ever moving 4-year-old is disruptive and exhausting. She gets hot and kicks off covers, making me wake up from being too cold. Elbows, knees, and fists end up jammed against your kidneys. The bed is too small for three people and the occasional visit from our Chocolate Labrador. None of the sleeping (if any is accomplished) is restful or restorative for my husband or me. I have fibromyalgia which causes chronic pain and tenderness all over my body. My usual scale of fatigue is extreme compared to a normal, healthy person even after I’ve gotten a normal night of sleep. Lack of sleep exasperates my symptoms and can often cause them to worsen. Many fibromyalgia patients must stop working due to their pain, but I am the main bread winner in my family, so quitting isn’t an option.
We have tried to let her sleep in her older sister’s room, but she doesn’t always fall asleep as quickly as our 6-year-old, so she’ll start to bug her sister to play. She has even hit her older sister with a pillow until she wakes her up! Her older sister needs sleep to be able to function in first grade, so their attempts to share a bed have now been restricted to the weekend.
I personally have no childhood memories of sleeping in the same bed with my parents. Do I feel like I missed out on anything? No, in fact, I’m happy for them it wasn’t a habit any of us five kids ever developed. I envy their sacred couple space that having a child-free bed at night helped to create. Let’s face it, we parents are all busy people and we deserve a place to rest, spiritually and physically. Shabbat has become my spiritual resting space. We don’t make any social plans apart from synagogue or celebrating at home. I feel empty if I miss it, because something just doesn’t feel right if I’m not celebrating Shabbat. Physically, my body needs that same kind of nourishment that Shabbat gives my soul. For me, that is going to sleep on well-worn sheets and snuggling under a duvet with my husband.
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