I was sat here contemplating my next blog post with a slight headache and co sleeping neck crick and thinking of our morning conversation with Teddy as to how his hand was bitten off by a dog and it got me thinking into how we have come to bing four in a bed! Team Stein Daddy and I often chat about what happened to us as parents when it comes to many of our newly adapted / lack of our old parenting techniques. We managed to successfully sleep train our eldest son pretty quickly, going from Moses bed to his own bed. He only needing comforting when he was unwell and that would be pretty much a cuddle and then back to his own bed. I think the days of Gina Ford would scare us into thinking this child should never entertain the marital bed or we would end up having a 6 year old in with us (we would come to know years later with number 3 that she annoyingly was right on this bit). Our second baby arrived and she managed to infiltrate our bed for a few months due to sheer exhaustion from us but after a few moths she settle in her moses basket until she too was transferred to her cot. She was the child that we would have to leave to sleep with just a monitor to check on her because, as soon as we checked on her she would wake up and look straight at us, as if to say why are you here waking me up? We preceded to have several years in our thirties of blissful nights sleep after a busy day running around after two very active little ones. Then along came number 3, we were at last outnumbered. A sensitive baby (polite for, he cried a lot!) who we all doted on. He was happiest co-sleeping but would go through periods of settling in his cot for a few hours. As a toddler he slept better in his own little bedroom until the unsettling night terrors came along and he would soon be tip toeing across the landing to find us. Fast forward to our bonus baby Florence, it was pretty clear from day one that this girl could cuddle, she spent pretty much the first 12 months in my arms or anyones arms that could provide a snuggle. Night time was when the games began, we realised that with her snuggly nature we would invest in a snuzpod. This beautiful yet expensive addition to our bedroom became a part of the furniture that Florence refused to acknowledge! Why sleep on there when she could shuffle or roll over to a snuggly boob and a memory foam mattress. Every darn time I zipped up the mesh on the snuzpod she would awaken and not rest until she was cuddled. This then translated to 10 months of cuddles in Mummy’s bed so I could get some sleep whilst Team Stein Daddy was mainly working away. Then we moved and had more space and along came her cot in her shared bedroom….
We thought naively that if they were to share they would be happier with having company. Satisfying Teddy that he’s not alone with his scary dreams and Flo would at last have a bigger space to sleep in. Some nights we had victory and we would wake up after that first night of uninterrupted sleep feeling worse than before (why Is that?) Then the second full nights sleep we would feel totally refreshed like we had been on a spa weekend of dreams. Then bang the third or fourth night back to musical beds as a tooth would be appearing through Flo’s gums or a cold would hit the house. Then there is the fact that these younger ones realise their older siblings need sleep for school and so they know that can lead us a merry dance around the house shushing them until we give in and put them into our beds for that precious few hours of shut eye for everyones sake. They also know that they can cause mutiny amongst Mummy and Daddy in the early hours with grumbled exchanges that are laughed about the next day. The tapping game starts anytime after midnight the attempt to tap one of us and get growled at so that the other parent will take pity on their little tears from said growl and take them in under their wing until they wake up with that familiar crick in the neck from co-sleeping unintentionally.
My recent favourite tap was honestly like tiny hammers tapping through my brain, I think my head was still ringing 2 weeks later! The following night he didn’t dare tap my brain for fear of the yawning growl and the mad banshee Mummy raising her head and so he was found lying on the floor with no cover and head on a cushion. So of course he was scopped up cuddled and kissed into our bed to make him feel wanted again.
I sometimes seek comfort in the fact there are other families who also play midnight musical beds, the breastfeeding Mamas, the parents who have ribs that are busied from little feet poking them in the night and squished faces from little hands that squeeze their cheeks tight to help them sleep. Then there are the ones that have it sussed just like we did with our elder two. We feel inspired that we can sleep train them again and with wonderful pearls of wisdom by my well meaning Mother we set about being strong. We spend a night or two tag teaming putting them back to bed one by one and stroking them until they fall back asleep and punching the air in victory as we go back to bed and sprawl out like royalty. Then after a few nights we get used to the sleep and the wise little ninjas get clever. You see during the day my children run up and down the stairs like herds of elephants yet come midnight they have this amazing ability to pad silently across the landing into our room, lift the covers whilst we’re blissfully unaware and cuddle in, still unaware of the extra company until we hear the little voice declare at 4am ‘Move, I have no room!’ as they’re spread diagonally across the bed. This then leads to more nights of ninja co-sleeping and before we know it we’re back to the shushing in the corridor and giving in for a precious two more hours sleep. So this post is to all those caffeine fuelled bleary eyed parents who still operate confused baby brain with their toddlers and six year olds and I raise a mug of espresso and share some solidarity as we too have tried and have failed and all I can say is, it helped that we invested in a bigger bed with amazing mattress, so at least whilst we sleep like contortionist contestants on Britain’s got talent we are vaguely comfortable albeit sleep deprived!