Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Our Miserable Little Family Secret

Have you ever touched your knee to your nose while holding both arms behind your back? And held that pose for eight hours? I have. I do. Every night. Why? Co-sleeping. My wonderful nightmare.

A while back I was reading a fellow blogger's article where she discussed 5 parenting truths when your kid has the flu. She discussed poop color, puke and other gross flu related happenings.

You might think I'd feel sorry for her, but I didn't. I was jealous. Why you ask? She also said one of the truths is that you must sleep in your child's bed to care for him or her, contortioning yourself into uncomfortable, miserable positions.

Only when her kids have the flu? I pondered. My kids need me to sleep with them, in my bed or theirs, Every. Single. Night.

Well. I was jealous. I haven't been able to feel my right shoulder, walk without my back popping, or get the crook out of my neck in two years, since my third child joined the roost.

It takes hours literally hours for my children to fall asleep alone each night. We've tried bath routines, reading books, taking away TV and iPads, allowing TV and iPads, bribing, pleading, screaming, spanking and even ultimatums. Nothing works. We are definitely The Nanny material. 

Only when we sleep with them do they fall asleep quickly.

The benefits of co-sleeping are no secret. Co-sleeping babies and children can have less anxiety. They are often better behaved in school and have higher self esteem. They generally have better emotional health and are more comfortable with affection. All of these statistics can be found on various reputable websites. I would argue also that because of co-sleeping, our family as a unit is closer. The kids all love and care deeply for one another, and know how to better comfort each other when we parents are busy or away.

But let's not kid ourselves. It. Is. Miserable. The kids might enjoy snuggling up to mommy and/or daddy at night, keeping them warm and making them feel safe and secure. But to this mama bear, this reward has come with a few prices.

1. We look more like a jig saw puzzle than a neatly arranged family. I love cuddling with my kids at night and the emotional affect feels very similar to the emotions I felt when I was nursing them. It's incredible. But it is uncomfortable the next day.

2. For the marital bed, intimacy is impacted. Enough said.

3. Travel is hard. Co-sleeping works okay in our California king-sized bed at home, but it is excruciating when you visit friends or family overnight and you are forced to squeeze five people into a full-sized bed.

4. If one of the kids pee the bed, you either pretend you don't feel it, or you disrupt the sleep of four other people. It sounds disgusting, but I know some of you can relate.

5. Once one kid is up, they all are. So, so much for sleeping in on Saturdays.

Honestly, though, I complain but I am not sure our family would be the same if the kids all slept alone, nicely in their beds, every night. We have a closeness that I am not sure is unique to our family, but it is pretty amazing. Our kids are each other's best friend and care deeply about one other.

I know that soon enough my oldest son will want the privacy and autonomy that his own bed affords. And at that point, I'll probably be sad.

I suppose I should stop whining about our miserable little family secret and start appreciating the few years we have left of it.