My friend Ann has two boys, Jack, 7, and Daniel, 5, and they both sleep in the same bed with her. She only told me this months after we had met and when we were already quite close. She seemed a bit sheepish about it. I noticed that, so I quickly said, 'So do my boys, they always have. Nothing wrong with that, is there?'
'Well, there is, according to all the mums at school,' she said with a shrug. 'They all tell me I'm making a mistake, that they are too old now and should get used to sleeping on their own. They won't leave me alone even when I keep telling them it is my choice!'
Ann has a full-time job and her husband works away on a two-week-on one-week-off roster. When the kids get out of school they still have to wait two hours before their mum gets home. Then it's tea time, shower and bed. The half hour to forty-five minutes they spend tucked in together under the doona, quietly reading or telling each other how their day went is the only real bonding time they get during the week. Ann cherishes that time in which she feels connected to her kids. Yet, the other mums at school tell her that what she's doing is wrong.
The irony of it is that these chats usually start with the other mums complaining about not sleeping through the night because their five-year-old child has nightmares, wets the bed or storms into the parents' room three or four times a night. Is it a coincidence that Ann's and my children have never suffered any of these scary nocturnal episodes? Dave and Alex stopped wearing nappies at night by the time they were 2, and they've never wet the bed since. They have, through the years, waken up at night, just to feel me lying next to them, hug me, sometimes whisper 'I love you' and gone back to sleep. When this happened, I never fully woke up.
Ann, like myself, has no shame in admitting that her not-so-little children still sleep with her, but unfortunately a lot of parents do. And surprisingly to me, a lot of parents show no shame in telling the nightly battles they fight with their children, whose only sin is to demand their parents' affection and proximity at night.
Some people that don't condone co-sleeping but are not against it either have only one objection: What about sex? Sleeping with your children might be good for them and even you, but it will kill your sex life!
Nothing further from the truth. In fact, you should thank your children for spicing up your sex life. Yes, having children is the perfect time to sneak out of bed when they are already asleep and go somewhere else to have sex. It's the perfect excuse to feel young and naughty and be intimate in different places and at different times like you used to do in the early days of the relationship. The kitchen bench, the shower, outdoors in the bush, in the kids' bedroom... Every day in a different place! Beds are for sleeping in, not for boring once-a-week (if lucky) five-minute quickies. And think about the stories you can tell your children when they're a bit older! Well, that assuming you are open minded about sex and not one of those parents who think withholding information on sexuality from young children is the thing to do. I have told Dave and Alex where they were - possibly - conceived. Alex laughs when I tell him he became a merging of two cells on the couch while Dave was sleeping in the family bed.