As I drove my daughter and her friend to dance class the other week, she said something I thought she’d be completely embarrassed about.
‘My mother crawls into my bed and asks to sleep with me,’ my daughter told her friend, as blasé as if she were asking a question about social science. ‘Or she’ll ask me to sleep with her.’
‘Oh, that’s so sweet,’ my daughter’s friend gushed. ‘I wish my mom would crawl into my bed with me.’ This coming from another 14 year-old? I thought it was only my teenage daughter who still liked sleeping with me and didn’t mind how much I still like sleeping with her.
There are a million stories about the pros and cons of co-sleeping with babies and toddlers, just as there are a ton of parents asking for tips and strategies to get their children to stay in there own damn beds in their own damn bedrooms. But there’s no information on, ‘I Would Rather Sleep With My Children Than My Spouse. So Get Out Of The Bed, Dude!’
I am neither here nor there when it comes to the philosophy of co-sleeping, or attachment parenting. I’m more interested in why and what happens when it’s Mommy who wants to sleep with her school-aged children at night, long after the children have been sleep trained. What happens when it’s mommy who will kick her partner out, without a second thought, so her child can sleep beside her, in the marital bed? What happens when it’s Mommy who sneaks into her children’s beds, after they are fast asleep? I’m THAT Mommy.
I would rather sleep with my two children over any man (especially a snoring one.) Does Holt’s father’s feelings get hurt when I say, ‘Oh, I already told Holt he can sleep in here. Sorry!’ Or, ‘Rowan and I are having girl’s night. So she’s sleeping in here tonight.’ Well, yes. What adult likes to be kicked out of the California King Size bed, with the good sheets, to go sleep in a kid’s bed with stiff and itchy Superman sheets?
‘That’s the fourth time this week I haven’t been able to sleep in the bed,’ Holt’s Dad complained after I had already promised our son that he could sleep on ‘Daddy’s side of the bed,’ yet again. There are many, many times I’ll whisper in my son’s ear, ‘Do you want to sleep in mommy’s bed?’ Or, I’ll text my daughter, ‘Can you come sleep with me?’
I know I sound like a desperate mother, screwing up her children by my (seemingly) neediness. I’m not. I don’t have to sleep with them. I just sleep so much better with them, now that they’re older. I love sleeping with them, even if they don’t need me to sleep with them, or even ask me to sleep with them. Yet neither one of them says no to me when I ask, like I’m the child and they’re the softy-parents. Often they don’t even know that I’ve picked one of them up and brought them into my room, because they are already asleep.
While it seems like every other mother in the world is asking how they can get rid of their kids at night, I’m ecstatic to sleep with mine, since both are at ages where they don’t thrash around, smacking me in the face with one of their limbs.
But, mostly, sleeping with my children is so super calming, better than any sleeping pill or meditation app I’ve tried. When I’m holding my children’s hand, as they sleep, it helps my brain slow down. Tickling my son’s back, while he sleeps, shuts my brain off. He is now the perfect size to spoon and it’s delicious. When I sleep with my daughter, we intertwine our legs. Or we sleep ‘back-to-back,’ so our backs touch all night. This physical contact brings on pure happiness, where my heart bursts with joy instead of my heart beating because I’m panicking over something.
Author Eckler and her son, Holt, sharing the Marital Bed. It was Mommy’s idea, as always.
You may think that a 14 year-old would hate sleeping with her mother, but she doesn’t. In fact, this article (unfortunately for me) titled, ‘The Dangers of Co-Sleeping With An Older Child and 6 Strategies to Stop It,’ says, ‘Recent studies indicate that near epidemic proportion of children are co-sleeping with parents today…a surprising 45% of moms let their 8- to 12-year-olds sleep with them from time to time.’
More and more parents are sleeping with school-aged children, because their children are anxious. I sleep with mine because I’m anxious.
Dr. Kate Roberts writes, ‘More and more I see families in my private practice who come for help with their child’s anxiety. They present with a child who is worried about life, in clinical terms a child with generalized anxiety. The child fears many things including: Being alone, what others think of them, how they will perform, and trying new things. Often when I probe deeper I learn that for many of these children, more nights than not, they are sleeping in their parents’ bed and into their double digits years.
My children don’t expect to sleep with me. They aren’t anxious about going to bed, or being alone. They aren’t scared of the dark, or worried about life and trying new things. There’s no deeper probing than that my children wake up, to find me sleeping beside them. Good morning! They don’t even realize I’m there.
Since I spend so little time with them, I do consider sleeping with my children to be bonding time. But since I couldn’t find any research about other mothers sneaking into their children’s beds, or, ‘Mother’s who Kick Their Partner’s Out Of Bed For the Children Because They Want To,’ I figured I’d search, ‘Benefits of sleeping next to someone you love.’ Because, well, the ‘someone’ are my children, and I love them.
‘It is believed that when you have someone next to you at night while you are sleeping, the nerves in the body begin to calm down, the blood pressure is regulated and the mind is at ease,’ this article states. So whether it’s your husband, your cat, or your child, there are benefits to sleeping beside someone. Experts state that it is also healthy. ‘This is because when both the bodies are in contact with each other, the brain sends signals to the rest of the body, telling you to relax.’
Even though Dr. Roberts says, ‘As a result of co-sleeping into later years, children today are less self-reliant. Many preteen children don’t yet know how to be alone at bedtime and thus they lack self-reliance…They do not develop a healthy internal locus of control putting them at risk for low self-esteem,’ I call B.S. My daughter goes to overnight camp for weeks. My son’s self-esteem is just fine, thank you very much. The are both self-reliant.
Oh, and that warmth you get when you cuddle with your children, which is so yummy. So which one will it be tonight? I do know who won’t be sharing my bed tonight – the other parent in our family. Sorry (not sorry!) I just can’t help myself!
Do you ever sneak into your children’s bed? And, honestly, would you rather sleep with your children or your spouse?
Tagged under: sleep disorders,kids sleeping,family and relationships,better sleep,sleep tips,kids in the bedroom,bedroom as sanctuary,stress and overtired,adult sleep,calm anxiety,sleep routine,co-sleeping,sharing a bed,sleeping in separate beds,sleeping in the same bed,tired,kids sleeping anywhere,master bedroom,sleep advice,going to bed,how to get kid to sleep in own bed