Writer and mother Laura Lifshitz explains precisely why she will not be shamed for co-sleeping with her daughter.
Dear Concerned Citizens of Sleep:
I noted your cocked eyebrow, slight mutter or loud vocalisation when I mentioned casually that my daughter slept in my bed last night.
For a second, I thought that instead of telling you that my four-year-old enjoyed a night-time snuggle with her mum that perhaps I had said I let my daughter smoke crack. The sound of your voice when you repeated to me, “You let her sleep in your bed sometimes?” sounded more like I had just revealed I slept with someone’s husband, and not that as a special treat or sometimes just because I miss my daughter, she sleeps in my bed.
Oh, yes, she sleeps in my bed, dear friend, family member, co-worker, random stranger and passersby. Not every day, but sometimes after she’s been with her dad during his parenting time or if she’s sick or just missing her working mum that she only has four nights a week, I invite her to hop in bed with me for the nighttime slumber.
Although I don’t sleep as well when she decides to join me, there is a comfort in having my daughter by my side. It is hard to be an almost-divorced parent who misses parts of your kid or kids’ lives while gone with the other parent. It is hard to be a young child who misses her mother and can’t always vocalise how much she wants her parents to be back together. The special nighttime sleep routine is comforting for us both.
While we are on the topic: “Divorce was the best thing that ever happened to my children”.
When she was a teething baby and I was a nursing mum, I retrieved her from her crib and brought her into bed with me a few times a week for at least three months. Sometimes, it bugged the crap out of me. She latched on and off my breast like she was a smoker sneaking in a few quick puffs on break every two seconds, and I rarely got a great night’s sleep. It was what I had to do, though, and was better than sitting upright in a rocker while she nursed and I stared at the ceiling or my iPhone reading Facebook status updates from other insomniacs and mothers desperately wishing for a night of sleep.
It has been a long time since those nursing days, and my daughter had gotten into the routine of being in her own big girl bed, until darkness started to scare her a bit and Mummy and Daddy separated. Suddenly, she wanted to return to the “womb.” Who could blame her? Her world was crashing as she knew it and the two people she loves the most somehow can’t be in the same place at the same time other than for shared family events and short exchanges and drop-off’s, etc. Asking to join myself or her father to snuggle to sleep is not a crime for any child, especially one enduring stress. If it would help her, why not pat the bed and welcome her in for a night or two a week?
Yet whenever I have even dropped a hint that my daughter has had access to my bed, it’s as if the listener wants to call out an APB to let me know how terrible my life is now going to be since my daughter joined me in bed.
“Now she’ll always want to sleep in your bed!”
“You’ll never get your bed back!”
“She’s a big girl. She can sleep in her own bed.”
“Really? In your bed?”
“We never let our kids do that. Oh no, no, no.”
More on parenting: The 12 parenting truths I’ve learned from this crazy rollercoaster.
In my opinion, whether you do it nightly or sometimes like myself, it’s not going to ruin your kids. My daughter, when she’s 13, won’t be asking to sleep in my bed. When she’s 18, I will have to fight to be sure she’s not in someone else’s bed.