My Favorite Thing…Sleep

I’m a horrible cuddler.

Let me specify. When I first go to bed at night, I can’t do the falling asleep in someone’s arms thing. I need my space. Sorry, honey!

So it’s a bit unusual that one of my favorite things has been sleeping with my kids. In our bed.

Uh-oh! I’ve likely unleashed some parenting judgment. The clicking of the tongue (tsk tsk), the gasps of horror that we bring the kids into our bed…

I’ve heard all about ruining my child’s ability to be a long-term, healthy sleeper. That they need to learn to sleep, wake, and fall back to sleep again by themselves. And I totally get it – it’s valid. I’m throwing a different perspective out there anyway.


Let me explain that our toddler has never been a good sleeper. Never. If you’ve ever experienced a bad sleeper, you’re probably already nodding your head in understanding. To those parents – hopefully, this post will remind you that you’re not alone and to not feel so bad about bringing them into bed with you at times.

Thank goodness, his sleeping has improved. He naps beautifully! Sleeps soundly for a good two hours, wakes, rolls out of his bed, and simply walks down the hall to reunite with his family.

But nighttime can be a different story. In my blog about choking out weeds, I shared how my toddler has vivid dreams, often of trivial conflicts. He talks in his sleep, and his dreams wake him with distress at times. Being jolted from sleep 3-4 times a night was just too much for us parents, so we’ve learned to be flexible. He always starts in his own bed, but he may not always remain there.

It’s funny…when he has his toddler tantrums during the day, my method is to leave him in his room to calm down and work it out for himself. He comes out when his tantrum is over, saying, “I’m done, Mama.” It’s not always quick, but he gets there. My hubby, on the other hand, tells me I need to console him, distract him, and he’ll calm down easier.

Different methods – I’m not sure which is better, but I do feel differently at night about the whole “let him work it out himself.” And yes, we have tried the crying it out thing. It worked…not so much.

There were times I could feel my frustration meter skyrocket when he woke at night. I blame it on sleep deprivation. Even if I didn’t show it, I could feel it. There were grumblings under my breath of Just. Go. To Sleep! and Please God, help him stop crying! I’d try to stay firm about him remaining in bed. But he could feel my frustration, too, and that just caused more crying.

At 2 am, you want a quick fix. How can I remove this head-pounding wail, avoid my 8-year old from being disturbed, and return the household to sleepyland as quickly as possible?

Hence, the decisions at times to pull him into bed with us.

The good thing about his sleep-talk is that he also sleep-listens. When he wakes from a dream lying next to us, we can lull him back to sleep with ease. Sometimes it’s as simple as answering him, “No, your brother isn’t in the room anymore, so he can’t take your toy car.” Wallah! Dream-conflict solved, and he’s back to sleep.

Honestly, I’m not worried about our toddler’s future ability to sleep on his own. When my oldest was a toddler, he slept with us now and then. And he’s the best sleeper of the family now! Out like a light the entire night. The only time he wakes is if he has a nightmare, which is seldom. When it happens, though, one of us doesn’t hesitate to lie down with him. I want him to know we’ll always be there to help, comfort, protect him, if need be.

Let me assure you we did not sleep with our newborns. The risk of rolling over onto them was too scary. But the odds of us harming our toddler is null. There’s a greater chance of him hurting us.

We’ve been kicked, whacked, shoved, poked, head-butted – I even got a puffy upper lip once from an elbow at just the right angle. 🙂 Some nights we’d wake at the risk of leaving the very edges of our King-sized bed while our toddler slept sideways between us – head in the crook of my side and feet digging into hubby’s back. BTW – What’s bigger than a King? A California King doesn’t cut it. I need more width, not length. Does anyone make an Emperor bed?

By being flexible with the sleeping, I truly believe we’re meeting his need at this stage in his life. When he wakes in the middle of the night feeling upset, he needs consoling. If lying between mom and dad offers him the comfort he needs to return to a peaceful sleep, I’m okay with that. He won’t be asking to do that when he’s fourteen, so I know it’s temporary. And along the way, I hope it builds confidence in him with a strong support system of love.

     Praise be to the God and Father
     of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
Father of compassion and the God
of all comfort, who comforts us in all
our troubles, so that we can comfort
those in any trouble with the comfort
we ourselves receive from God. 

                                       2 Corinthians: 3-4

I’ll be honest, having him next to me is one of my favorite things. As a baby, my oldest used to nap on my chest on his tummy. I’d lay there with a physical feeling of peace. My body would feel relaxed, warm, and still. Nothing in the world felt more peaceful than his little body’s soft breathing. It was pure comfort. I missed that with my youngest – he just didn’t sleep like that with me. But I’ve learned that he, too, feels peace sleeping near us.

The other night I avoided frustration over his cries by reminding myself that I’m the person he relies on to comfort him – he needs me for this, not to lay down the law in the middle of the dark night. So, when he calmed a bit, I asked how I could help him.

  • [Me: Did you have a bad dream, sweetie?]
  • [Him: No.]
  • [Me: Are you upset that you woke up and still feel sleepy?]
  • [Him: Yes.]
  • [Me: What can I do to help?]
  • [Him: I want to go in the big bed with you and Dadda.]
  • [Me: Why do you want to go in the big bed, honey?]
  • [Him: (in his sweet, groggy, sleep-filled, small voice) Because it’s my favorite thing.] How can you say no to that? 🙂

Mine too, buddy! Come on – I’ll carry you!

Side note: I don’t blame my sleep deprivation on kids alone. Most times, it’s just my brain that refuses to shut down. When I woke one night at 1:00 am, resulting in insomnia, I laid there actually writing this post in my head. I resorted to getting up to write it down before I lost my thoughts. So I have my own sleep troubles at times. And no, my parents did NOT let me sleep with them. 🙂


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