Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Family Bed

Over Christmas break we went to a teddy bear exhibit.

When we came upon all the bears in a large bed, Patrick said, "That's how our house used to be!"

Yes, many, many years of kids climbing into our bed in the middle of the night.

We raised our babies with attachment parenting, which nicely flowed into a positive attachment style with our kids adopted at older ages.  Our babies slept in our room, our toddlers came in the middle of the night, and even our elementary-age kids came and slept in a nest of blankets on the floor when scared. Front packs, back packs, and good-old-fashioned-arms frequently held a young child -- even Vu was carried a LOT when he came home at age six.  William Sears, Tine Thevenin, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and Deborah Gray's Attaching in Adoption were CrazyForKids best sellers.

Some of my children's favorite stories have been based on co-sleeping:

Co-sleeping is actually the norm in many cultures around the world and in fact, many would find it strange that American parents sleep in separate rooms from their babies.  I will be the first to admit that attachment parenting takes a LOT of work on the front end of parenting, but I truly believe all that time and investment pays off later with trust and security.  Of course I absolutely recognize that co-sleeping isn't for everyone, there is the need for marriage bonds to stay strong, and there are also various thoughts regarding the safety of sleeping with young babies.  Quite honestly, my own husband wasn't always always a fan of the idea, but I am eternally grateful he supported my belief in the importance, and it became an integral part of our parenting.

Co-sleeping looked different for various kids--they usually started out in their own room before coming into ours sometime before dawn.  Our tiny babies slept in a bassinet in our room, we had the "sidecar arrangement" with one child, and a crib mattress that pulled out from under our bed for others.  Of course, the middle of our bed was the #1 choice.  Patrick often landed at the foot, and Vu came into our room for years due to nightmares.  I even have a memory of a teenager, scared in the night, laying on the floor holding my hand draped over the bed as she slept.  When my kids were younger it wasn't unusual for our bed to look something like this by morning.

We are past the years of co-sleeping, but some of my best memories are waking up and seeing a little innocent face near mine, still dreaming. Somehow I've forgotten all those inevitable nights of a kid laying perpendicular kicking my head, the cover hogs, and yes, even the occasionally bed wetter.

One of my first thoughts after we lost Joe was that I was thankful for all the time we had together, including those sweet times with him as a little one, snug as a bug, cuddling between his Daddy and me.

Attachment parenting and co-sleeping are parenting strategies that have served our family well.  I consider it a foundation of our life in parenting, worth the downfalls, a boost to attachment, and a choice that has left us with a plethora of happy memories, for both our children and ourselves.


Emily Henderson said...

The NICU nurse in me is going to say that room sharing is now the encouraged sleep method. But they do make pretty neat bassinet type beds that connect to your bed, but provide just minimal amount of separation to prevent rolling over onto your babies! ❤❤

Leslie said...

I love this! Our family was similar. Babies slept in our room, sometimes my husband or I slept in a new little ones room until they were comfortable in our family. Once in a while an 8 year old still has a bad dream and we make a bed of blankets right on the floor next to me and he goes back to sleep feeling safe.