I’ve been co-sleeping on and off for nearly four years. It started off innocently enough. My infant would sleep in his bassinet next to my bed, then graduated to a crib that I also positioned beside me. Somewhere along the way, though, he decided "next to me" didn't cut it, and wedged himself between my partner and I in our bed. So it's safe to say that co-sleeping and bed-sharing have not only affected my son, but me, too. And like many others, there are certain weird habits I’ve developed as a co-sleeping mom that other moms with similar sleep situations deal with, too. (And if you don't, just lie to me so I feel better, OK?)
For example, I didn’t need to use an alarm to wake up in the mornings for the longest time. I’m not sure how I managed, but I basically trained myself to wake at a certain time of day. It helps that I work from home, of course, but I swear my body programed some super secret internal clock so I wouldn’t wake my kid up until I absolutely had to. So when I say women's bodies are truly incredible, know that I'm referring to what happens beyond the magic that is pregnancy, labor, and delivery. We have super secret bed-sharing clocks, guys.
When you’re a stay-at-home or work-at-home mom, you appreciate those few quiet early morning moments way more than ever before. But training my body to wake up without an alarm clock and before my child isn't the only side effect I’ve developed thanks to co-sleeping. So if you're experiencing some "weird habits" thanks to your family sleeping arrangements, here are just a few straight-up strange things only co-sleeping moms end up doing:
People can be judgemental, especially if you tell them you co-sleep. They'll either assume you mean bed-sharing, because a lot of people don't know the difference, or they'll think you're somehow "spoiling" your newborn by constantly sharing your space with them.
How your family chooses to sleep shouldn’t be anyone’s business, and it’s not for anyone else to comment on. So if you keep your co-sleeping information to yourself, know that you're not alone. Sometimes, a debate, or even a "teachable moment," just isn't worth it.
Even before my son was born, I often referred to him as my tiny, portable, personal heater. He kept me warm during pregnancy, and even now I will definitely snuggle up close when those unforgiving winter months get brutal.
You won’t have to do this if you co-sleep in separate beds. But if you bed-share, I'm going to go ahead and warn you that "move the feet from your face" is a nightly routine. At some point, your kid will squirm into a weird position where their feet are just too damn close to your head. Spin 'em like a little clock so their heads are back up to 12 position, and all will be right in the bed-sharing world (until they flip around again, of course).
While you should clear your bed of pillows and blankets if you're bed-sharing with an infant, once your kid is older, and especially by the time they’re toddlers, it’s perfectly fine to throw in a pillow or two. In fact, you’ll need those pillows, my friends. They'll be the only protective barrier keeping you from getting whacked, repeatedly, by unconscious, flailing limbs.
Until you’ve got a potty-trained kid (and potentially even a little after), you’ll want to check your kid’s diaper in the middle of the night. When my family bed-shares, all I have to do is reach down and check. If my son is sleeping in his room (which is 75 percent of the time now, praise the sleep gods), I’ll usually wake in the middle of the night just to go make sure it isn’t full.
When it comes to 2:00 a.m. diaper changes, all bets are off. Yes, there might be a diaper bucket around. Yes, the trash can in the kitchen is only about 10 or 15 steps away. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to actually put in all that effort and risk the inability to go back to sleep.
Technically, the whole reason I began bed-sharing with my son was so I could sleep more. But he just looks so damn cute in his resting state, that "sleeping" turned into "staring at my perfect child for hours on end."
People claim they wash their bed sheets very frequently when they bed-share. To that, I say, "Ha!" Not all of us have that kind of energy, or coffee addiction, or money to pay someone else to do our bidding. It’s cool. I’ll keep playing along, too. Just don’t sniff the sheets until laundry day.
It’s like you're a 12-year-old, prepubescent, rebellious pre-teen again. Except instead of having to pretend I’m asleep for my parent’s sake, now I do it for my kid’s. I’m just not always ready to sleep at 9:00 p.m. and when my really wants me around, so I do my best to compromise.
About a year ago I claimed I would no longer be co-sleeping because my son had magically begun asking to sleep in his crib. What. A. Joke. While, yes, he no longer sleeps with my partner and I every single night of the week, he still climbs into our bed a few times a week. Some days I swear I’ve had it and commit to making sure he only sleeps in his bed. But then he gets a fever and I want to be close to him, or he has a nightmare and needs 3:00 a.m. hugs. Whatever. I know it won’t last, so for now I’ll milk these snuggles for all they're worth.
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