Am I Cruel Mummy? Boy #1 thinks so.

>> Tuesday, 5 February 2013

I don't want to come across as Cruel Mummy but...

I don't let my children sleep in the marital bed.

Does that make me nasty?  Boy #1 thinks - sometimes - that it does.  Mainly he thinks this when his younger brother waves the fact in his face that twice in the last 4 months, he (Boy #2) has snuck in - unnoticed by me, I might add - in the small hours and managed to stay put until morning.  Smaller than his brother by 2 years, Boy #2 took advantage of my natural defense against the freight-train style snoring from the other side of the bed; namely that of shifting as far away as possible from the source of the noise and clinging there, albeit still asleep.  This of course leaves a Boy #2 sized-space down the middle of duvet, which he exploited on these two occasions before bounding back into his own bed at dawn and trumpeting his victory to his furious older brother.

Siblings.  Don't you just love them?

We've been had reasonable luck with the Boys' sleeping patterns so far.  Certainly whilst they were still tiny we suffered the 1 / 3/ 5am wake-ups for breast and bottle feeding, the pacing backwards and forwards rocking a seemingly inconsolable baby in our arms wondering if we were ever again going to get a full night's rest, and the rushing in at 2am to calm a child shouting in their sleep.  In fact, now I come to think of it, that last was almost a nightly fixture for 4 long years; Boy #1 did it from ages 2 - 4, and then just when he stopped, Boy #2 clocked in with his own version until he hit 4 himself.  But nowadays they are good; they go to bed when we ask them to, and they don't wake up much before 7am, which personally - needing my own sleep - I call a result.

Even from the first, when they were only tiny scraps, I was never any good at co-sleeping with them.  At the beginning it was quite simply that I was worried I - or Husband - would roll over and squash them.  And yes, I know instances of this are extremely rare, but try telling your exhausted hormone-buzzing just-given-birth psyche that at 3am.  It just didn't work for me; I would lie there, rigid with panic, unable to sleep myself, next to a gently snoring husband and baby.  So we put each of the boys in a cot next to our own bed - and then after a couple of months, moved them into their own room.  Then, when they were toddling around, they were just too restless when asleep, both of them capable of moving from one end of their cot and back again  between checks, to convince me it was a good idea to have them with us.

And so we settled into a routine where they slept in their beds, we slept in ours, and everyone had a good night's sleep.  I saw no reason to change that as they got older.  Sure, we have Sunday mornings when they bounce all over us and put toes cold from half an hour of playing with toys before we wake up onto our warm hands and legs, but as for spending the night in the same bed - well, I just don't encourage it.

Don't get me wrong, if they're ill I will get as close to them as I can, and if I'm not actually sleeping on their floor I might as well be for the amount of time I pop in and out of their room to check on them.  But aside from the fact that I operate much better when I've had a proper night's sleep myself, it's always seemed to me that Husband's and my bed is just that; for Husband and I.  There is one room in the house that belongs exclusively to us, and I want to keep it that way.

I don't think that makes me a bad mother.  Despite what my son might say...


Home Office Mum 5 February 2013 at 09:45  

Well after several seriously disrupted nights I know where you are coming from. And I agree that I sleep a lot better when they're not in my bed. If my husband is here, I tend to say no to them coming into our bed as it's just too much of a squash. But when he's away (which is often) if they want to come in (one only) I let them. Usually it's because they're unwell or just need extra cuddles. As long as they don't sleep right next to me, I'm fine.

The one thing that I do think when I am gnashing my teeth about not getting enough sleep because of them in my bed, is that I really don't have that much longer before they wouldn't dream of doing something as uncool as snuggling in bed with mummy. So I'll take it while I can.

Clare Taylor 5 February 2013 at 10:24  

You're right of course HOM - but I exact my affection tax in hands held whilst crossing the roads or snuggles on the sofa etc....

MsCaroline 5 February 2013 at 13:41  

I always allowed them to get in with us in case of nightmares or if they weren't feeling well (no vomiting.) However, it didn't happen too often, so I never felt like it became a problem. Of course, the bedroom suite of furniture we had for the first 16 years of our marriage was a big Victorian thing that had been a wedding present for MrL's great-great-grandmother. Despite the fact that the furniture was huge, the bed frame was so small it had to be enlarged to fit a double mattress (second-smallest size in the US) which meant that the two of us fit perfectly (less so when I was pregnant) but 3 was always a crowd. With our usual impeccable timing, it wasn't until both boys were too cool to sleep with us that we finally broke down and bought a king sized bed. Oh, what I would have given to have had that when they were small....

nappy valley girl 5 February 2013 at 14:33  

I'm similar - never been into co-sleeping, except when they are ill or have had a nightmare. The boys sort of know not to come in to our bed in the night, because they'll be put back.

But I do love it when they come and snuggle in bed in the morning (as long as it's past six...).

Muddling Along 5 February 2013 at 17:12  

I find mine tend to need to come in to snuggle when we've got out of kilter and I'm away too much with work - guess they are making up for lost time

That said we have trained them to be good bed partners - any silliness or wriggling and they are despatched back to their own beds. Only way it works is if we can all get a decent sleep together (and the plus side is that Littler is like a little snuggly hot water bottle that doesn't go clamy in the night)

Iota 6 February 2013 at 09:49  

Only in the case of illness or nightmares...

Daughter is like a radiator. It's impossible to share a bed-space with her. We should probably find some way of harnessing her night warmth, and saving on heating bills.

Expat mum 6 February 2013 at 22:41  

I've been very lucky with my kids as far as going to bed is concerned and I have never let them sleep with us. My middle child had nightmares for two years and would come into our room, shaking. At first I would bring him into bed, but just as I was falling back to sleep, he would ask to go back to his. Very soon I would just walk him straight back to his own bed and stay until he was OK.
I feel bad though because we didn't even have them on our bed in the mornings, but I blame that on the fact that the Ball & Chain got up earlier than they did and was already downstairs.

nuttycow 13 February 2013 at 16:44  

Not having kids, I don't know if I'm allowed to comment but by initial thought is "hell no". For many of the same reasons you mention, I just don't think I could sleep with small children in the bed. I find it hard enough with the adult kind ;) (although, granted, possibly for different reasons!)

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