5 Reasons Co-Sleeping Didn't Work For Us

by Joanna McClanahan
BraunS / Getty Images

I’ve never understood why they call it “co-sleeping” when my kids are the only ones who seem to get any sleep that way.

I loved co-sleeping with both babies — for a little while. It worked great while I was breastfeeding because I could just roll over and feed them. No getting out of bed or having to put on pants. I could rest while my baby nursed, safely swaddled beside me.

But then they grew up, started moving more and more in their sleep, and eventually I stopped nursing. The moment I had my boobs back to myself, I wanted my bed back too.

Our kids both transitioned to cribs in their own rooms and eventually into their own queen-sized beds. My husband and I each snuggle up with one of our two kids. We read them stories and cuddle with them until they fall asleep. Then we do the Friends Hug ‘n Roll routine and sneak out to our own bed where we can have some well-deserved freedom away from them.

Here are five reasons co-sleeping never worked for us:

1. Sleep

I’ve heard some people say that co-sleeping is the only way they get any sleep. How? When you’re constantly being poked, prodded, and pushed off the bed? Personally, I have a tough time sleeping when I’m constantly being woken up by a limb to the spleen. Not to mention every time I roll over onto a warm spot, I wake up to figure out if it’s wet or not. And sometimes I’m so tired, I just throw a towel over it until the morning. (Don’t pretend you haven’t.)

I get little to no sleep as it is, so the sleep I get needs to be decent quality. I can’t be woken up a hundred times a night and still function the next day. There’s just not enough coffee in the world to help that. Believe me, I’ve tried.

2. Space

I work from home and am surrounded by small kids all freaking day. They’re always touching me with their sticky hands, or wiping things on me, or trying to press their butts against me. They like to sit, stand, or climb on me. In their minds, I’m some sort of human jungle gym.

By the end of the day, I am officially touched out. Sometimes I just need somewhere to lie down without anyone touching me — a brief moment to have my body and mind all to myself. A place where I can relax, breathe deeply, and not have to worry about anyone’s nasty feet on me.

3. Safety

Assuming that you don’t co-sleep on a couch, or take Ambien, I think co-sleeping is generally safe for kids. But once babies outgrow the love-to-be-wrapped-like-a-burrito stage, they immediately begin training to become UFC mixed-martial artists.

It starts with a few harmless, but annoying slaps to the face as they roll over. Then eventually they get you with a closed fist to the jaw, followed by a swift kick to the kidney. You will wake up battered and bruised from your own children. Until one morning, you wake up struggling for air because they have somehow rolled their entire tiny body onto your face.

4. Sanctuary

I have to share my food with my kids. They get to decide what shows we watch and what music we listen to. My bed is the one place that’s still my own. And I don’t feel guilty about it.

My bed is my sanctuary. I’m writing this from my bed right now. It’s where I like to get things done, or be still and enjoy some silence. I can listen to whatever music I want; it’s a Kidz Bop-free zone.

5. Sex

Parents who co-sleep are always saying that they find “creative” ways to reconnect. Where? I’m not very limber anymore, and our pantry’s not that big. And shower sex sounds fun — in theory. In reality, one of us would probably end up in the hospital.

The minions are always around, which means the only time we really get to ourselves are those rare moments when they’re both sound asleep behind closed doors.

Look, I’m all for everyone making the decisions that work best for their families. As long as you’re all happy and healthy, your parenting choices really aren’t anyone else’s business. But if mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy. And this mama is a whole lot happier when I get all of the above.