I have a secret. Actually, I have two secrets.
While all of you have been debating whether to co-sleep with your babies, let them cry, or are telling me they’ve slept peacefully and alone since they came home from the hospital, I’ve been surviving … with the help of two sleeping bags.
When there’s a knock on the door I don’t straighten the couch pillows (let’s face it, in my house they’re freakishly straight anyway) – I run to our bedroom and throw the sleeping bags in our closet. Because people can’t know our twins don’t sleep in their beds … ever.
Our oldest three boys were all different types of sleepers. Michael wouldn’t sleep unless I was sitting on the foot of his bed, and if I was able to slip away he’d eventually sneak in our room and crawl in with us.
I knew something had to change before baby two arrived, so we shut his door. He cried. And I cried. And we both passed out at some point. The second night we heard him hop out of bed, walk to the door, shake the handle that I was holding from the other side, and walk back to his bed. We never had another issue, and at 14 the teenager would sleep all day if I let him.
Colin, next in line, would go down without a fight – but once his little brother was born (again, about 18 months later), he’d get out of bed and just want to come sit with us. Even the pediatrician said it was because he just wanted his own time, so we gave him 20 minutes of solo attention and he’d go back to bed without a battle.
Aidan, the last of our first set never had any issues from four months on. In fact, we’d often look up and the toddler would have put himself to bed. Bed was his refuge and gave him much needed peace and quiet in a loud house of three growing boys.
By the time we had the twins our house was free of any sleep issues. The boys slept late on weekends and hated getting up for school during the week: perfectly, groggily, normal.
And then Graeme and Heath were born … and our eyes were opened (literally).
Our house is small, and the twins shared a crib from the day they came home. They should’ve been separated by six months because they were kicking each other – but we didn’t have space to put another crib or bed (we were adding on to the house as fast as we could). We bought bunks with trundles, and put the babies in the same room as our 10-year old, but we were so worried about keeping his school sleep schedule on track that we’d let the twins fall asleep in odd places and then move them. By the time they were 18 months old they were used to falling asleep together in one place, waking up in a bed, and finding their way back to us.
My husband would dutifully let a twin fall asleep between us, and then carry him back to his bed. Repeat with the other twin an hour later. If I didn’t want to be kicked in the face by an upside-down child, I’d sneak away to the couch. Even if one boy had a good night and slept but the other woke up it was the same for us … no sleep.
I don’t know when or how it happened. All I know is one night I was so exhausted that I put a quilt on the floor and joked that I’d sleep there, but instead the twins did. In fact, I slept in my own bed for the first time in months while they both happily stayed on the floor.
Santa Claus helped us out at Christmas by delivering two Thomas the Train sleeping bags. The quilt and blankets disappeared and our secret was neater than ever.
We’ve tried every bribe we can think of – jelly beans, chocolate coins, and miscellaneous Dollar Tree junk. Truth is, nothing is as good as being in the room with us. Apparently, not even chocolate.
Now that the secret is out, judge me. Or, allow yourself to find the good in this secret … that our boys love us so much they want to be in the same room with us at night, and that we love them so much back we’re willing to step over and around them. Besides, you just can’t convince me they will want to sleep in our bedroom on their honeymoons.
We all have our parenting secrets. We’ve all had to, at some point, figure out how to survive. The real problem is we don’t think anyone else does it … and that just isn’t true.
So, get over it. Let your child wear two different shoes to preschool or give them pepperoni and bacon for supper. And stop hiding it. Laugh about it. Compare notes. Maybe you’ll find a solution … or better yet, a friend who will listen without judging. Because trust me, the very people you think are judging you probably have sleeping bags in their closets!