Why we Cosleep
I have blogged before about the mechanics of our cosleeping arrangement and how we make it work and briefly touched on why we do it but I felt like I could come back to it today and expand a bit on our why.
Yes, cosleeping is easier in my opinion than trying to sleep train an infant in a room next door or across the hallway. It does regulate baby’s biorhythms to help improve their sleep and help guard against SIDS due to irregular breathing patterns.
But above all, for us, it is really about fostering a culture of connection with our kids.
Of late, my style and rhythm of parenting has changed dramatically. I have slowed down substantially and begun to open my mind a lot to trying harder to see my kids as actual people with valid emotions and experiences and you know what? It’s not easy to do. I realized something as I lay with my kids tonight while they struggled in a new way to get to sleep this evening… in just about every way, our culture (at least the one I grew up in) has conditioned us to see children more like pets than humans. We try to train them like animals… we try to silence their inconvenient and annoying sounds… we expect so much out of them and we try to mold them to us more than we are wiling to do the work of discovering who they are becoming and helping gently guide the blossoming forth of their separate self.
When I got married, I found myself feeling truly free to be myself for the first time. I have been a HARD. CORE. people pleaser for as long as I can remember. I literally felt like my life was not ok when someone close to me was unhappy about something I believed I could change about myself. I am honestly impressed with how much of myself I did know and was comfortable with by the time I got married when I look back on it, because my husband’s genuine love toward me and whoever I needed to be/ become was so transformative, it almost feels like I didn’t know myself at all before I married him. The reason I point it out is because it was in the free space of not having someone place their own expectations on me that I felt truly free to become the best version of myself that I could be.
I am not saying I don’t have expectations or boundaries for my kids… I am saying I am observing them before creating those expectations and being flexible about them because these are small humans and they are BECOMING. But something I realized today is that our culture is embedded with expectations of parents to kind of… ignore their kids. I grew up going to public schools full time, the most I saw my mom was for dinner and at bed time and we coslept til I was 9 or 10 at least. She worked HARD. She worked a lot. And a lot of our connection was built in car ride conversations and bed time chats and the fact that I was her only… But I realize I was conditioned in a culture where parents DON’T spend most of their time with their kids and they are venerated as suffering martyrs for wanting a different life but then those of us who get that life are actually dying inside because all we want is a stinking break… I don’t even know almost any mothers who are just content in their motherhood— not SAHMs looking for a break or working moms wishing they could be home. But for me, today, it hit me that I get to connect with my kids day in and day out. I DO get breaks- I have child care on a regular basis now and my nanny is the MOST amazing addition to our family, but I am also changing. I spent several hours with my kids today and they weren’t the model of perfect behavior by any stretch… we talked through whining, hitting, and coloring on the walls, but we also had dance parties and played with bubbles and Annabelle took on the helper role with a level of maturity that seems to be bubbling up from inside of her more and more every day. But what is different is I am no longer offended at their “bad” behavior- I am learning to listen to it and look for the need to be met…
If my husband comes home from working and seems tired and snappy, my instinct isn’t to silence his emotions, but to understand and offer assistance where I can. His feelings are valid, he works friggin hard. I am learning to see my kids’ feelings as valid too. They don’t generally hit each other with no motivation behind it… they don’t usually throw tantrums just because (although, let’s be real, I have had my share of mysterious meltdowns so why should I judge them if they do??)When I take the time to get down to their eye level and try to name and understand their feelings, often that is enough to help bring resolution to the problem.
Tonight I laid with them in bed for a good 30 minutes longer than I would normally spend getting them to bed because for some reason, they weren’t getting to sleep by their normal time and both of them were just not ready or able to drop off like they usually do. At first, I didn’t like it… I was afraid I would fall asleep and miss getting work done, but then I remembered it isn’t really about me right now. For some reason, both my kids really wanted my presence at bed time, more than usual so I stayed with them until they were both asleep. And in the long run, I think that is where connection gets built and one day I will see how it really pays off.