Bed-Sharing. Room-Sharing. Co-sleeping. Whatever you call it, it can be a touchy subject. Today’s writing is focused on ONE side of this debate. And honestly, I don’t want it to be a debate at all. I want whatever you choose to be what fits and serves your family best. Today’s story will be about ME. It’s MY story on why I chose to not room-share or bed-share with my sweet kids.
First, I do have to touch on the safety issue. Whatever you decide to do, please know that the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests room-sharing, but not bed-sharing, for the first six months of life. Studies have shown that this combo can cut down on the risk of SIDS and prevent the horrific accident of a baby smothering in bed with parents (When I polled a group of parents, this was the biggest reason many of them said that they chose not to bed-share).
My personal reasons for having my children in a different space were much less focused on safety and more about thriving in all areas of life. I have always wanted to be a mom. I think it is one of the most beautiful names that you can be called. I want to emphasize that it’s ok to want to be a mother, give yourself to that role, and have other gifts, skills, and interests. How does that relate to room-sharing or bed-sharing? Here are a few thoughts…
- Before there was a baby, there were parents. The parents established the family unit, and a baby didn’t make the family. It already existed.
- Before there was a baby, the parents had a relationship that was entirely their own, based on love, affection, trust, and so many other things. I think that this relationship should be valued and nurtured, and that can become difficult if there is no time or space in which to do that.
- Before there was a baby, there was a woman. A woman who was gifted with skills and talents, employed in different ways throughout the day, with her own hobbies and interests. She was a friend, a coworker, a daughter, a sister, and so many other things. She existed before this sweet baby came to join the world.
When my first child, my sweet girl, was born, I ADDED the role of Mother. I added that title, but the other roles I had did not all go away. There is depth to being a person and a mother. Layers and layers of amazing fabric are all woven together. As you read this today, I want you to consider your roles. What titles do you hold currently? What roles do you need to let go of in this season, and which ones should you work harder to nurture? How is sleep affecting those?
When thinking about sharing a sleeping space with my children, and after considering that topic with my husband, I realized that bed-sharing would take away too much from my other titles. Looking back, I see that having my own space and giving my children their own spaces was a way to preserve these other roles that I had. It preserved my sleep and gave me space to nurture and preserve my romantic relationship.
Let me explain that a bit…
How does having our own sleeping space preserve my marriage/partner relationship?
- In my family, our children came from the bond that already existed between my husband and me. I value the relationship that we have worked to create through time and effort. OUR relationship is the foundational building block on which our “family” stands, and I want our relationship to last.
- By choosing not to room-share, I’ve been able to take time and space to nurture my romantic relationship. This, in turn, gives my children security in our family’s stability, and thus security in their ability to grow from that safe space.
- It becomes increasingly difficult to find time together with your partner once children arrive. My husband and I have chosen that our bedroom, and especially our bed, is a space that belongs to us alone.
- In addition, I jokingly tell my husband often that we need to protect our time together because one day our kids will grow up and leave us, and it will just be us again. Have we nurtured our relationship enough to enjoy each other once the children leave? This is usually said in jest, but there is a truth behind that as well. We are choosing to set our gaze long-term.
How does having your own bed preserve my identity?
- I know that I was created as a unique human being. I was created with gifts and talents. Mothering takes a lot of my time and energy (and that is FINE! that’s a glorious endeavor to give your energy to!). But it can be easy to lose myself in mothering alone. The fact that I am able to put my children down independently in their space frees me to use my own space to do things that bring me life while they sleep. I can read a book before bed, take a warm bath, or engage in a hobby. Or sometimes, I need to take those moments to do the necessary things for the day, such as catching up on chores. My space, hands, and mind have a chance to be free at the end of the day to do what I need to do, whether that be chores or self-care. Sometimes moms need physical space to have mental and emotional clarity, and that’s ok!
- My dream job is what I am doing…being a Mom! But I also hold the belief that SO many of us take up the mantle of “MOM” as our ONLY title and drop the rest. It is a BEAUTIFUL name to be called, and Lord willing, you’ll hold that title the rest of your life. But don’t let it be your only title, or the rest of your relationships and inner-self can suffer.
How does it preserve my sleep?
- I am typically a lighter-sleeper, and I know I move around a lot. I worried about waking my baby, and after room sharing with my first, I knew that my baby would wake me. I found it very difficult to sleep soundly with my baby in the room because they’re such loud sleepers! (I know that some moms might sleep better being near their children, but for me, every little sound had me alert and awake).
- Besides being a safety issue, bed-sharing was also a comfort issue for me. Children are very restless sleepers and move all night. Studies have shown that by the time the child is 18 months old, families that room-share and especially bed-share get less sleep than those that do not (including the baby!). Our bed was not quite big enough for a third, and very wiggly, body in the mix!
How does having my own sleeping space preserve all of my other roles?
- Studies show that after a certain age, room-sharing and especially bedsharing causes everyone in the room to sleep LESS. I am a woman who suffers without sleep. I am cranky and get lost in such a deep mental fog. Without sufficient sleep, we suffer in the areas of mental performance, physical and mental health, mood, and focus; this affects all of our other roles! Because sleep impacts all aspects of our life, I was highly encouraged to get good rest. I want to do my best with the roles I have, or at least be awake enough to try. To accomplish that, I needed my own space to sleep well.
- My husband and I chose independent sleep so that we could have enough space to rest well. We say that “three’s a crowd, especially in bed!” This desire to rest well is NOT selfish. Think about airplanes; when explaining why oxygen masks are needed, the professionals encourage us to put on our own masks first before helping others. A mom is central to the family, and if she’s not sleeping well, her entire family suffers. I fall into the category of parenting that believes YES, you should check on your child if they need you, but you can also have healthy boundaries and gently teach them that they sleep in a separate space. Having a healthy attachment doesn’t mean that you respond to EVERY cry. It’s simply not possible and can actually hinder your child from growing. We’ve seen this proven true in our own family, where we all sleep (and sleep well!) in our own spaces and continue nurturing and enjoying each other in the daytime.
Final thoughts and encouragement…
I hope that sharing part of my story has given you some thoughts to consider. I want to encourage you again to do what works for your family and brings your family life. However, don’t stick with a sleep method that you don’t actually prefer, simply because you aren’t sure how to do it differently. Families that often reach out to me are bed-sharing, but it wasn’t out of desire. It was out of desperation! Their child wouldn’t sleep unless with the parents, and now they aren’t sure how to change that. If that’s your situation, I want to encourage you that it’s SO possible to change your family’s sleep habits. I’d be happy to help your family establish new bedtime routines and habits that serve you well. In addition, don’t feel as though what you choose to do today, in the realm of sleep, is a permanent choice. If what you’re doing is serving your family, then keep doing it. If it isn’t serving your family, do something different! Families can and should adapt as their needs and situations change. I will say that it can be harder to go from co-sleeping to independent sleep the older a child gets, but even that is possible to change with consistency.
In closing, I want to encourage you that parenthood is a great calling. It has an eternal impact! You hold that role, but also remember to consider who you are as an entire person. Consider if your family (and the world) can benefit from the amazing way you’ve been created.
I hope you sleep “In Heavenly Peace!” Please reach out with any questions or needs you have about baby and toddler sleep!
Hope is a southern girl at heart but loves to travel and learn about all different types of people and places. Fun fact, she’s lived in three countries!
She currently resides in Louisville, KY. It is her daily challenge and joy to support her husband in his business, care for their precious children, and support tired families through her role as a Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is involved in her local church and in the lives of many families in their city.
Her company, In Heavenly Peace, was created out of a desire to help the moms around her find the peaceful nights their minds and bodies were craving. Hope knew good sleep was possible for them! After having their first child, Hope and her husband were lost, not knowing how to best set her up to grow and sleep well. Thankfully, they were given helpful advice from a special doctor and a friend to establish age-appropriate sleep training habits from the start. Their advice worked practically, and it also gave Hope peace because she had a roadmap to follow.
Hope loves it when families choose to trust her to provide them with a personalized sleep plan. After the plan is given, she often has the joy to walk alongside the family as they follow the plan and see sleep success. “So much peace comes from having a plan…” she says. Let me create that plan for you!
You can connect with her at:
Note: Guest blog posts are shared for informational and educational purposes and may not reflect the official policy or position of SlumberPod Pet (parent company, Dovetail Essentials, LLC), our employees and/or contractors.