A few years ago my family was on the Today Show. They had published a question online in regards to co-sleeping and my wife had responded to it. Within 48 hours there was a camera crew at our house doing an interview. If you do happen to watch the video that is indeed my family. It was a few years before I began staying home full time.
I decided to dig up this little family gem because every so often someone I know will ask me about the pros and cons of co-sleeping. It has been nearly three years since the interview so we have had the opportunity on some level to see how it has played out, at least in the short term.
For us personally it was never a conscious decision. To be honest I think that it initially was the result of our oldest baby having colic. Pure exhaustion set in and thus the baby slept with us. Deep down it never really seemed like an issue in our household and we were rather surprised to find that it was such a hot topic with people at large. At one point my wife worked for Public Health while they were waging their propaganda against co-sleeping and a number of the nurses contacted her privately after viewing our interview telling her they in fact did the same thing and admired us for speaking about the subject.
All three of our children slept in our bed as infants and toddlers. All three of our children now sleep in their own bedroom. None of our children made a fuss over the transition to their own bed. And though the “expert” on the interview would like you to believe otherwise my wife and I enjoyed all the perks of a loving relationship. . . . did (do) we ever!
Our two youngest who are 3 and 5 years old still occasionally stumble into our room at the most obscene hour of the morning but once again it really is not an issue. Sometimes we do not sleep comfortably due to it but our children are seeking us out for a reason. Whether bad dream or simply wanting to snuggle we are there for them and I believe that it is important for a child to know their parent is available for them.
I can only imagine that the whole issue is rooted in some sort of long forgotten puritan past. Why else would it seem logical to anyone to put an infant or toddler in a lonely crib so that they can cry themselves to sleep? There is a bizarre notion in our cultures fabric that affection and massive amounts of love are in some way harmful. I do not think that one would need to read a report or study to come to the conclusion that it may be setting the early foundation for many of society’s ills. It may not be farfetched to acknowledge that the apathy we have toward our own children may in turn be visited upon us a country when they reach adulthood.
It is important to love and hug. To take naps together. We are mammals and it is normal as a species to sleep in close vicinity to one another. Our children are all healthy independent types and yet are never afraid to seek us out if needed.
I look back on that time period and realize that I had some fantastic moments with my children as the crickets chirped outside of our window. My son and I developed an ongoing story about a young boy and his flying lawnmower. This young child, who happened to have my sons first name, and his flying mower visited a giant in the sky, a massive bear in a blueberry patche and my son was always the hero of the story. (See the amazing art attached to this article, wink wink).
It also seemed that all the big questions arose as we settled down to sleep.
“Why does bigfoot sound like a woman screaming?”
“How does Santa get in the house if we don’t have a chimney?”
“I can smell ice cream on your breath, how come I didn’t get any?”
That is not to say that we did not have a scary moment or two. With my oldest daughter I did think that I had rolled over onto her one night but it turned out she was just a really heavy sleeper. She still is. Good luck moving her from the couch to her top bunk. Personally I find that when one becomes a parent you experience a different type of sleep anyway. In some peculiar way you are completely aware of your surroundings even though you are tip toeing through the daisies.
My desire is not to convert you one way or another but simply point out that social norms come and go but deep inside you know whether or not you are doing the right thing for your child. For your family.
Here is the interview. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21134540/vp/43984891#43984891
Tobias Whitaker also blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad .