Dear tired Me,
You will spend a full night in your bed again. A full, uninterrupted night. Spooning with the love of your life. Fingers intertwined.
Tonight is not that night.
You have four kids. Set realistic expectations for yourself, and start accepting what your heart has already has embraced—that you need sleep at night, and your children need you. You will one day get more restful sleep when your kids are sleeping away at college, or in their own apartments. And you’ll miss those tiny arms around your neck at night.
For the last seven years you have been co-sleeping. Co-Sleeping was never the plan, but when fatigue got the better of you, you chose “the easy way.”
You tried “the hard way.” There were tears—from you and from your child. You decided that no one needs that kind of pressure. You learned to trust your instincts. You arrived at co-sleeping after your fair share of struggles. Now there’s no shame in your sleep game, because everyone is actually getting sleep.
Now, you must let it go. I need to stop losing sleep over it. It works for us, and this is key. We all have to do what works for our families.
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Tonight you will sneak up the stairs hoping you won’t startle those little sleeping heads, praying that they all stay asleep. And just as you’re settling to sleep, you will hear the familiar call. And you will answer it.
Tonight, like every other night, you will be too tired to settle and soothe bending over the cot. Because...achy back. So instead you will bring the little one into your bed.
The middle of the night isn’t a time for parenting. It’s a time for survival.
Tonight you will not be wearing that silky little number that’s been gathering dust at the back of the wardrobe. No. You will wear whatever you can grab to be ready for the midnight ambush—baggy, comfy, warm. It seems, the middle of the night isn’t a time for being sexy these days. But one day we’ll bring the sexy back.
Tonight, as your child settles soundly and happily next to you—his little arms wrapped around your neck tightly, breathing softly—you will feel whole with happiness and love.
Tonight, when your 3-year-old wakes because his bed isn’t nice and comfy, he is too cold, he can’t sleep, he saw a monster, or because he simply needs a hug—you will know in your heart, this too will pass. When you’re in the thick of it—wondering if your nights will be like this forever and where you’ve gone wrong—hang in there, and know you’re not alone. There are many mamas in your same spot, with similar thoughts.
We’re all in this together.
Tonight, when you end up in the spare bedroom sandwiched between two little boys, you will feel like a champion. Because of all the love around you. Sweet, soft and snuggly love.
Tonight you will accept that the “stay in your bed” reward chart that you hung up for your 3-year-old has failed you. At 2 a.m. he doesn’t care about all the stickers, presents or bribes in the world. At 2 a.m. when he wakes up alone in his bed, all he cares about is not wanting to be alone. All he cares about is being warm and needing cuddles.
Tonight, you are ready for whatever may come your way: ear infections, night terrors, vomiting bugs, bad dreams and high temperatures. Regardless of how tired you are or how many curse words run through your head, you will give those mama hugs.
If you are unsure about your sleeping arrangements or feel that whatever you are doing isn’t the right thing, know this: Accidental co-sleeping does not equal failure. It’s easy to feel like you’ve failed at parenting if you let your child sleep with you. But you aren’t failing. Co-sleeping helps us all get better and more sleep. Co-sleeping has helped us through the early stages of breastfeeding, through terrible teething bouts, sickness, separation anxiety or whatever has gotten thrown our way.
When you wake up tomorrow morning feeling a bit achy and tired from having been sandwiched, you will look at your children and hope that they will know how deeply they are loved, and that they will grow up to love others selflessly, just like you did. No matter whether they were in their bed all night, or snuggling up with you in mom and dad’s bed.
Trust your gut. Show yourself lots of kindness. And in the morning, always chase your coffee with a large chocolate chip muffin.
The kids will be fine and so will you.