A sad thing happened to me recently. Alright, maybe it’s not sad so much as it is bittersweet. My son, now nearing 28 months, has decided to go back to sleeping in his crib, all on his own. His shift toward independent rest started last week, when we (finally) began a routine regarding afternoon naps. He has quickly learned that lunchtime is followed by a few minutes of free play followed by grabbing his teddy and blanket and plopping onto the living room couch while listening to soft music. After a few days, I brought him to our room and placed him in his crib and told him I’d be right back. Rather than cry, he simply laid back on his pillow, grabbed his blanket and smiled. That’s when I realized that there were things I was going to miss about co-sleeping.
We didn’t start out as co-sleeping and bed-sharing parents. It wasn’t until my son's 10-month sleep regression hit that I began bringing him into our bed so I could actually sleep. The past few months have been admittedly miserable in that my partner and I are constantly being kicked and punched by our 30 pound offspring. While co-sleeping worked for us, it wasn't all fun and games and, well, sometimes I longed for the days when my son would have his own bed and I could have my own peace of mind (you know, one that didn't involve a tiny flying elbow to the face).
However, now that my kid's back in his own bed everything feels pretty strange. There are things I miss about our old routine; things like him sleeping next to me and seeing his little chest rise and fall and smelling his freshly-washed hair. Turns out, the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the co-sleeping fence, and there will be things you'll end up missing, even if you do end up getting your bed back.
There’s nothing like the way a baby’s head smells. Actually, I’m also quite fond of baby breath, and baby skin, especially right after a shower. Hell, babies just smell so good all the time and now I don’t get to fall asleep with that scent.
Although we don’t have especially cold nights here in Miami, our house’s air conditioner is always cranked to a solid 69 degrees at night (which can feel cold). Having my son around was like having my own personal mini-heater, except much, much cuter. Now that my son has stopped co-sleeping in my bed, it feels just a little bit colder.
Before he moved back to his crib, we would make a game of tossing him into our big bed and having a pillow fight, followed by reading books, doing a shadow puppet show, drinking a warm bottle of milk, and then snuggling to sleep. Yes, I enjoy our elaborate routine. These days I’m lucky if I get a story or two in before he wants to sleep. And he’s stopped taking his last bottle of the day. Why do they grow up so fast?!
All babies wind down from the day in different ways. For my son, it was kicking his legs repeatedly and then babbling a bit to himself, until he finally succumbed to sleep. I enjoyed watching this every single time, but now he mostly does it all on his own.
Truth be told, my husband would often opt to sleep in the guest bedroom when my son and I were sprawled out across the family bed. Sometimes I felt bad, but other times it was just kind of nice to have the extra room (c’mon, what person in a relationship wouldn’t mind the occasional extra pillows?).
Toddlers talk in their sleep all the time, and my son is no exception. There are few things I enjoy more than listening to his gibberish or hearing him giggle softly to himself while he sleeps next to me. I will definitely miss that.
Whenever my son needed me (for feeding or because he woke up from a bad dream or whatever), I was right there. Most of the time, he wouldn’t even wake up because having my husband and I next to him made him feel all that more secure.
This is the best, especially when neither of you have to actually wake up for any reason. More cuddles can often mean happier kids, and in the mornings when I’m still exhausted and need only turn around to do so, I am more than happy to comply.
Nothing beats waking up to a smiling toddler. Even if it meant getting slapped in the face (as he sometimes thought was charming to do), it was still nice to have him be the first face I encountered in the morning (no offense to my husband, who is also quite good looking, but y’all know what I mean about the love we have for our babies). Real talk: kids are the best alarm clocks.