Welcome back to Thursday, as Jodi at The Noise of Boys and I take turns with our True Tales from the Pink & Blue Trenches series. We’ll pick a topic each week about trying to figure out just what is the difference in raising boys (hers) and raising girls (mine) and share our thoughts with you.
This week, it’s my turn here at Home on Deranged to discuss the magic that our toddlers can conjure when it’s bedtime. Amazing how quickly such a little person can find big ways to turn a night upside down. (To see Jodi discuss how her boys are little escape artists when it comes to sleepy time, see last week’s post here.)
Ah, yes, bedtime. That magical time when you can drift off to sleep and dream of faraway lands and crazy adventures that lead you to be the leader of your own kingdom, beloved by all and adored by strangers.
Unless, of course, you have toddlers around. In which case, it’s a journey into finding out just how many ways you can contort your body to fit the 1-foot wide sleeping space you’ve been allotted by the world’s tiniest bed hogs. Yes, I have become the accidental co-sleeper.
When we started this parenting journey, we never consciously – or actively – set out to be co-sleepers. My husband and I were perfectly happy to drift off to dream in our queen size bed, each with a comfortable amount of room to sleep in pretty much any position we desired.
In fact, when we were both still working, we never had Annie in the bed with us. If she woke up during the night, I usually took her in the living room and stayed with her until she went back to sleep, returning her to her crib and myself to the comfort of my quilt-covered cocoon.
But then we moved in with my dad for a few months, and since space was at a premium, her bed – rather, her playard – was at the foot of ours. I can remember nights hearing her cry and looking at the foot of the bed to see her tiny little head peeking at me. It was just easier to take her out of there and put her in the bed with us.
When we finally moved into our current home, she loved her room, and, for the most part, slept through the night. When Leelou came along, she, too, stayed in the playard next to our bed, so if she woke, I could pick her up, soothe her a little, and put her back in it.
But a funny thing happened as they got older. They moved on their own. Once Annie got transitioned to her toddler bed, she became quite adept at getting out of her bed, walking down the hall to our room, opening the door and coming right on in.
I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve been awoken by, “Mommy?” in the tiniest little whispered voice. Sometimes I don’t even hear her, I just sense her staring at me. And it usually scares the crap out of me.
As Leelou moved into her own room, she would occasionally wake, and since there is a full size guest bed in her room, I would just crash in there with her. Except I wouldn’t wake up and move her. So we wound up sleeping in the same bed. Then I would hear Annie crying for me, wandering around the hall, and then everyone was awake. So I gave up staying in Leelou’s room.
At some point, with one squirmy baby and one bed-hog toddler, we decided a queen size bed wasn’t cutting it anymore. We went up to the king size bed, and it initially seemed huge. But a funny thing happened. Our daughters grew.
The long list of toddler sleeping positions is well-known and frequently documented: they lie sideways, with their head at your head and feet at his head; they lie in the opposite direction of you, so their head is at your feet and their feet are in your belly; they lie in a diagonal position, touching both parents at once while simultaneously taking up more of the bed real estate.
For the most part, Leelou sleeps through the night, opting to stay in her own comfy space. She is a hard sleeper, and usually doesn’t even want to get up in the morning. Annie, on the other hand, since potty training started, gets up almost every. single. night. At first, it was just to go potty. Now, well, I really don’t know why. Although she has repeatedly commented that she likes our bed better. Yeah, me, too.
We get lucky sometimes, and have a two night streak where they both stay beautifully ensconced in their beds. It’s pure bliss when I wake up and realize that I have not had to hang on to the side of the bed like a drowning man clinging to a life raft. I actually had the room to stretch all the way out and allow my limbs to relax.
Then there are mornings like yesterday, where I wake to find Annie curled snugly against my leg, head at my feet, sleeping soundly. And I have absolutely no idea how she even got in the bed. I really have no memory of her coming in the room. Sure, I could return her to her bed, but then I’d have to get up. And mama ain’t having none of that.
Perhaps if we’d planned better or discussed how we would handle what to do when our babies wake up in the night, I might not be the accidental co-sleeper that I now find myself to be. But then again, I wouldn’t have gotten all that deliriously delicious cuddle time. Or heard the giggles of my girls as they wake. Or seen them sleeping on their daddy’s chest.
Eh. I’ll sleep later. You know, after they have kids of their own.
What about you? Were you an accidental co-sleeping parent, or even a purposeful one? Did it make a difference in your overall parenting style, or did you just go with the flow? Share it with me in comments, because I’m always looking for advice!