In an endless sea of parenting style choices, I’m solidly on Team “Do What Works For You And Your Family As Long As No One Is Being Hurt.” (Won't exactly fit on a jersey, but some folks benefit from the extra clarification, so.) Personally, I'd much rather figure out what works for me and my family than follow a rigid formula that doesn't. But that raises a big question: if you're not sticking to a script, how can you tell if your parenting choices aren't working for you anymore? When it comes to things like co-sleeping, or breastfeeding, or anything else outside the realm of "things I have to do so my kid doesn't die," how do you know when it's time to switch things up if you are no longer following the parenting template laid out in a book, or by your own parents, or by your friends?
For me, a lot of it comes from listening to that sinking feeling inside that just starts blaring like a siren once part of me has figured out it's time to move on, even if the rest of mind or my heart haven't quite caught on yet. That's definitely how I realized I needed to start weaning my son after nearly two years of basically being a La Leche League poster mom and baby. Basically, I realized that breastfeeding was starting to be a thing I dreaded instead of the cozy, sweet experience it had been before. I'm having a similar experience with bed-sharing. After months and months of being the best sleep solution for me, my partner, and our son, he's gotten a lot bigger and we are just no longer about that thrashing sleepy toddler life.
It can be hard to change a thing you've been doing for a while, or even for the entire time you've been a parent. There's so much guilt, and confusion, and worry that making a change could permanently affect your relationship. However, kids are pretty resilient. As long as they're being cared for by happy, healthy parents who are honest and supportive about the changes we need to make, our kids are usually OK in the end.
Or so I'm hoping, because now that I've had exactly one single taste of what it feels like for my son to sleep through the night in his own room, I am not going back and nobody can make me.