Posted on Facebook by a Doula Service:
Sleep with your children, hug each other while you can under the covers, do not be afraid of that addiction. Children are small only once, then when they grow up they will find their way and their spaces.
Sleep heart against heart, so much so that you feel their breath, because there is nothing more beautiful than this.
Enjoy their childhood and their company, love them as if the world were going to end today because tomorrow they will have grown up and you will think that you lacked time to hug them.
Sleep this way if you want to, if you can, and if this works for your family.
if this post inspires a deep knowing that there is no way on earth you can pull this off long-term – you are not alone. And the alternative is NOT leaving your child alone in a room while you have a panic attack listening to her “cry-it-out.”
Here is a different reality that I have facilitated for two decades, line by line:
Sleep with your children, hug each other while you can under the covers, do not be afraid of that addiction. — YES! Do not be afraid UNLESS you start to lose your mind to anxiety or depression from interrupted sleep or feel unsafe to drive a car.
Children are small only once, then when they grow up they will find their way and their spaces. – YES. Sometimes children transition on their own out of the family bed and sleep in their own space – but not always. Sometimes children grow up with anxiety baked into the sleep process because they learned, “I can’t sleep unless I am physically connected to them all night long.” That was my childhood story and the story of many children I have helped.
Sleep heart against heart, so much so that you feel their breath, because there is nothing more beautiful than this. — YES. Do this if you find that beautiful. For some of us, there is something more beautiful than this. It is quality, dependable, sleep for the entire family. For many of us, this scenario of children plastered to us all night long feels suffocating and that does not make us bad mothers, partners, or people. Many children find it suffocating as well and become irritated that they can’t find rest either. You can breathe on me, face-to-face, and heart-to-heart in the waking hours.
Enjoy their childhood and their company, love them as if the world were going to end today because tomorrow they will have grown up and you will think that you lacked time to hug them. Yes, enjoy it all. Whatever you choose find enjoyment there. For some of us, probably most of us, life is much easier to enjoy when we get the sleep we need. Love them as if the world will begin every day refreshed with an embodied understanding that sleep is an act of self-care and self-love.
Imagine this reality:
You do not have to miss years of regulated sleep in your home. Your entire family can wake up with enough energy to enjoy one another all day.
This heart-to-heart, intertwined romantic notion of sleep with our beloveds (lovers, pets, children) works for some families. For many of us, this is an idea that simply can’t be realized no matter how much it is idealized. Great NEWS! The human need for closeness can be met in the daytime. An embrace from a resourced and fully present person is more fulfilling than a hug from a sleep-deprived, irritable, mess of a mother. Daytime hugs are enough. Night check-ins and being a touchstone for our children when they need us is enough.
I recommend co-sleeping for the first 4-6 months of life
After the newborn phase (the symbiotic stage of life) we do NOT have to be enmeshed with our children 24/7 for them to internalize a secure attachment.
Here’s the deal, it goes by quickly and we will wish we had more time with our little ones no matter how we managed sleep in our home.
My children just left to go back to college. I miss my son’s embrace and his long, soulful gaze. I miss my daughter’s head on my lap as I stroke her hair and scratch her back. No matter how much we talk when they are away facetime doesn’t offer the same sensation as their physical presence, touch, or the vibration of their laughter in my body and in my home. I also sleep better when my pack is under my roof so this will be a transition for me. But I will sleep well again knowing they feel confident and safe in their college experience so far away from home.
We had it all. We have enjoyed a ton of physical affection, bedtime togetherness, and pillow talk. We have enjoyed breaking all the bedtime rules to celebrate the end of school or a vacation where we shared a room. We also enjoyed going back to our own nests upon returning to the routine. None of us have ever missed keeping each other up all night long.
For those of us who can’t do this here is the truth – we don’t HAVE to sleep this way in order to raise the secure autonomous people our children will become.
Some grownups need their sleep to function in the real world. Many women need regulated sleep for a functioning thyroid and functioning relationships. And for those of us who do, we don’t have to feel like we are depriving our children of anything to get it.
If you DO feel like you are depriving your child or yourself then by all means sleep this way. Surrender your body to this process. Just know that if you ever have to change to maintain your family’s wellbeing there is a middle way.
“It helps to be strongly attuned to our own inner rhythm – to know what your needs are, and to convey this to your family so they learn to respect your needs, too. Ongoingly sacrificing your own needs for the child’s can create inward anger within both of you.” –Magda Gerber, “Dear Parent: Caring For Infants With Respect”