I Never Thought I'd Let My Kids Sleep In Bed With Me

And yet, here we are.

Beautiful mother and daughter sleeping together in bed. It is the evening and there is lamp on. Mom ...
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Once upon a time, I had a long list of things I’d never do as a parent: iPads at a restaurant, snacks before meals, and Nerf battles, just to name a few. But at the tippity-top of that list was the ultimate no-no for me: letting a kid sleep in my bed.

Now, before you call me mean or unsympathetic to my child’s middle-of-the-night plight, this decision was made for their own good. Because other than those adrenaline-infused newborn months, I am a mother who needs an adequate amount of sleep to behave appropriately. Much like my son gets hangry when he hasn’t had enough snacks, I get an adult version of that when I haven’t had enough sleep. But somehow, some way, my almost-five-year-old third born little spitfire has made her way into my bed — and I have no idea how to make it stop.

My first mistake was getting in the habit of letting her fall asleep in my bed. We didn’t do this with any of the other kids but since everyone has a different bed time and she’s the third kid and blah blah (I suck), here we are. We put on a show, give her some water, sometimes top her off with a little #allnatural melatonin (don’t you dare judge me) and a while later she is gone-zo. Once it is time for us to get into bed, we make a quick pit stop at the toilet and then it’s straight to the comforts of her stuffed-animal filled bottom bunk. Who would ever want to leave that?

Her, at around 1:15 am, that’s who.

Right as that amazing and necessary REM sleep pattern starts to kick in, I hear the footsteps start down the hallway. Most nights I play dead, something I learned in the depths of sleep training when my boobs were no longer a necessity. So she makes her way over to my husband's side and before I know it, she is right smack dab in the middle of us. Sometimes I don’t even hear her come in. I just feel a little knee wedged into my lower back and know my dictator has arrived.

And honestly, this would all be fine if the three of us slept well together. At this point with four kids my motto is most always, “whatever works!” But because my little cherub demands to sleep with her knee in my back or head on my hair, it’s a pretty sleepless and uncomfortable evening. And we try to bring her back into her own bed, several times a night in fact, but no matter how deep a sleep she is in upon transfer, she always makes her way back with us.

So as I lay there sleepless I do one of three equally unproductive things: curse the entire world and all it’s made of for my exhaustion, dive down a rabbit hole of guilt and regret for poor parenting decisions I have made that got us here, or furiously google for a solution to all of it. And as you can imagine, none of these things are helpful.

So, what do I do? I am not great at decision making in the deep hours of the night, after all. Who is? Hopefully it’s just a phase, like everything else that rattles me one day and is gone the next. Maybe eventually, without any real parenting strategy or prompting, she will just stay in her bed all night. There aren’t many teens still sleeping with their parents after all. So for now, I think I will try to channel the feeling I will have when she moves on, when I’m longing for what now feels impossibly suffocating. I will breath in her cheese-puff/toothpaste breath on my pillow, nudge her knee out of my back, and soak in this brief moment that I know I will long for eventually. More coffee and less complaining. It’s only a phase, after all.

Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.