Co-sleeping can be fantastic. It makes all the nighttime (would-be) interruptions way easier to manage, it lets you know ]your baby is still breathing, and it maximizes the amount of time you can smell their amazing baby heads and feel their soft little cheeks. I was a happy co-sleeping mom for most of my son’s life (literally until a few days ago), so I know why most co-sleeping parents do it. I also know co-sleeping is a sacrifice for many mamas, so there are some things every co-sleeping mom needs to do for herself tonight if she wants to be able to keep on keepin' on all day after she wakes up.
Aside from getting your room or bed ready for co-sleeping, and making sure your baby is wearing some soft cozy pajamas and a dry overnight diaper, there are some preparations every co-sleeping mama should prioritize for herself. After all, a person isn't just born being able to gracefully deflect sleepy toddler kicks to the face. It takes practice. Same goes for figuring out how to maintain your romantic relationship when your normal time and place for sex are occupied by a small child.
Definitely make time for the following tonight, if you want to keep co-sleeping and keep being the amazing mom you are.
Spend At Least 15 Minutes Totally By Yourself
Especially if you're a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) who co-sleeps, sharing a room and/or a bed with your child means being with them pretty much all day. Squeeze in some time to just be alone, so you don't get too sick of your family. (Yes, that happens, yes, it's totally normal, and no, it doesn't make you a bad mom.)
Find Your Good Headphones
You'll probably need them, if you want to watch anything or listen to a book until you're ready to sleep near your already-sleeping child.
Download A Good Book
Notice that I said "download," not "grab." I know from personal experience that the same baby who can sleep through an outdoor festival will wake up if they hear you turning paper pages every couple of minutes. (Also? Lighting problems.)
Even if you're a hardcore dead-tree book fan like me, if you're a co-sleeping mom (and especially if you're a stay-at-home mom who co-sleeps), you'll probably have to download the Kindle app on your phone at some point if you want to read any non-board books before your child goes to preschool.
Practice Defensive Postures
If your baby is mobile, or you're co-sleeping with a toddler, keep an arm ready to block any flying feet or sleepy heads. Better a bruised arm than a broken nose, y'know?
Develop A Patience Mantra
"I will not freak out when my child knees me in the stomach. I will not freak out when my child knees me in the stomach..."
Do Some Core Exercises
Holding all the funky positions needed to successfully co-sleep (or especially bed-share) requires a lot of core strength. Squeeze some side planks into your nighttime routine to get ready.
Test Out All Door Knobs, Floorboards, And Other Things That Could Inadvertently Make Noise When Touched
If you have a baby sleeping in your room before you're ready to sleep in your room, you'll need to go in and out after putting them down to rest. Don't be caught off guard by a loud door handle or anything else. Instead, know the quietest possible way out of your room in advance.
This practice will serve you well in the future, too, once your child is sleeping in their own room. Pro-tip: slowly turn a door knob alllll the way in one direction before pulling the door open, and then slooooowly turn it all the way back the other way after it's in place. Don't forfeit all your hard bedtime work to a loud door.
Find Your Favorite Pajamas
Maximize comfort by wearing the softest, best pajamas you own. You may not be able to sleep in any position you want (especially if you're breastfeeding), but having a comfy layer next to your skin is still awesome.
Make Out With Your Partner Before Bedtime, If Possible
For moms who are in a relationship, co-sleeping forces you to get really creative about alone time with your partner. Squeezing in time to be romantic, that doesn't revolve around your bedroom at bedtime, is a must.
Flop Around In Every Position You Won’t Be Able To Enjoy When Bedtime Comes
Co-sleeping can limit your sleeping positions, since big floppy movements can wake the baby (especially if you're bed-sharing). Shake out all your otherwise bound-to-be-pent-up-and-drive-you-nuts wiggles ASAP.
Sleeping in basically the same position alllll night long can be taxing on your muscles. Limber up beforehand (and after) so you don't get too sore.
Take A Nice, Hot Shower Or Bath
I never need an excuse to take a nice hot shower, but "I'm going to be cuddled close for hours on end with two people I don't want to think I'm smelly" is a pretty good one if I did.
Find A Soft Midnight Snack
Maybe it's because I was breastfeeding, but I always got hungry if I woke up in the middle of the night while sleeping near my son. Then, not only would I have to debate whether I was hungry enough to try to sneak out of bed and get something to eat, if I had something to eat, I'd have to figure out if I could eat it without crunching or otherwise waking him up.
Spare yourself that trouble: find a nice, soft snack, without a noisy wrapper, before you head to bed for the night. You'll thank me later.