Yes, Your Kids Will Stop Climbing Into Your Bed. Yes, You Will Miss It.

Yes, Your Kids Will Stop Climbing Into Your Bed. Yes, You Will Miss It.

May 07, 2018

Author: T&N Team

When you have only one child, you think that you are creating their behaviors and habits with your parenting; when the second one comes along you realize that you are just along for the ride. If I’ve learned anything about how we influence our children, it’s that maybe we don’t have as much to do with it as we think—every child is uniquely them and you just get to do a bit of shaping.

I saw this clearly in the sleeping habits of my two boys. My oldest, Jack, was always a very independent sleeper; he slept in his crib from day one. Looking back, we got off pretty easy for first-time parents—no fighting, struggling, or frantic calls to our own parents begging for the magic answer. It was just easy.

But then there’s Cooper, my second son. Cooper needed to be rocked to sleep, and rocked back to sleep if, no, when he woke in the middle of the night. It’s reported that 42% of moms end up sharing their bed with their babies, but when does it stop? Even 45% of moms say that they occasionally share their bed with their 8-12 year olds, is there a clear cut line that I’d have to draw eventually? Both of my boys are extremely empathetic and love hugs and cuddles from their mama, but they are wildly different at heart. Jack is cautious, introverted, and a great conversationalist. Cooper is chaos, calamity, and never misses an opportunity to tell a joke. (Sometimes they are even funny!)

Shortly after moving out of his crib and into his first “real bed,” Cooper began crawling into ours in the middle of the night. I can still remember waking up that first morning with his sweet 3-year old form snuggled against me. It was a lovely moment, of course, but I couldn’t help but worry about the precedent we were setting—like any parent does, a hundred times a day.

Almost every night for the next 4 years, I would wake up with Cooper next to me. He went to sleep fine on his own, but somewhere in the middle of the night he would wake and drag his little body into our bedroom and make a home next to me. Ultimately, this left me with two options. Either I would be sandwiched in the middle of Cooper and my husband, concentrating all night to not disturb either of them, or I would try to get a little space of my own and my husband would end up on the couch. If I could muster up the energy, I would walk Coop back to his room, but most nights we would just bear it.

There were definitely restless nights where I’d lie awake, wondering when it would end. Would Cooper be 16 and still trying to crawl in next to me?

About a year ago, when Cooper turned 7, I started to wake up with him next to me less and less. It still happened, but only once or twice a week. It dawned on me that these late-night snuggles would soon come to an end. What was for so long a source of tension and anxiety as a parent, was suddenly something I’d grown to cherish. I would miss waking up with my sweet baby cuddled up next to me. I would miss him needing me in the middle of the night to get back to sleep. I would miss him choosing me as a source of comfort.

I remember distinctly the last time I woke up with him by my side. I looked over at his not-so-baby face (When did that happen?) and pulled him closer knowing it could be the last time, and it was.

When they’re small, our children rely on us in this all encompassing way, but slowly the tables turn and we find ourselves needing them more than they need us. Needing them to remember that mom’s kisses can heal everything. Needing them to remember that holding hands keeps us both safe as we cross the street. Needing them to remember I’m the one they want to tell all their stories to. My children used to need me for everything—now they only need me to download apps because I refuse to share the password on my phone.

Jack has started cooking for them. He wakes up in the morning and heads into the kitchen to make breakfast for him and Cooper—they used to have to wake me to pour them milk and cereal, now Jack poaches eggs. They used to look to me to entertain them. They wanted me to read to them, play cars with them, push them on the swings. Now I have to ask them to come to the park with me, cuddle up and watch a movie or if they’d like me to read them a story. (They usually say no and then offer to read to me!)

The saying holds true: the days are long, but the years are short. I am at the season of parenting now where I am holding on to every “need” for dear life. While it may seem like your little one will never sleep alone, that you will never get a good night’s sleep again, that you will never get a moment of peace; there will come a moment when you once again have plenty of room in the bed, that you sleep through the night, and that you have more moments of peace than you know what to do with—and you will miss the sweet neediness of having little ones.

Featured Posts