I Don’t Let my Kids Sleep in my Bed

I didn’t realize how strange this was until I was recently talking with some friends. Most mothers I know, at some point, have slept with their children. I seem to be in the minority of moms because I never had my kids sleep in my bed.

When my oldest son was born, he slept in a crib or pack-n-play from day one. Same with my youngest son. When they were toddlers and awoke in the middle of the night (which, admittedly, was rare), I hugged them and tucked them back into their own beds.

Related: We need to stop shaming moms for co-sleeping—and research shows why

For some families, co-sleeping is the only way for anyone to get any sleep. And for many parents, co-sleeping is an enjoyable bonding experience. Not for me. And part of my motherhood journey has meant honoring my own boundaries—one of which is nighttime is for me.

Not everyone shares this disdain for co-sleeping—my husband included. In fact, when our kids were younger, anytime I went out of town, he and our kids would have a slumber party in our bedroom. They’d sleep cuddled up in our queen bed, arms intertwined and snoring away. When my husband went out of town, however, I fiercely protected my bed.

Some might call this selfish; I call it setting healthy boundaries for myself. I knew that I needed sleep to be an engaged mother the next day. I knew that I needed those precious few hours of “alone time” to recharge. And in those early days of motherhood when I was constantly touched out, I needed the physical space.

Just because we are mothers doesn’t mean we can’t have boundaries, especially when those boundaries help us be the good moms that we want to be, the good moms that we know we are.

Quite simply, setting this motherhood boundary made me a better mom.

I didn’t really think much of it, but over time, I’ve realized just how strange it is that I have never co-slept with my kids. When I heard about moms who loved snuggling up with their toddlers, I wondered if something was wrong with me. When I read about the benefits of laying down with our kids until they fall asleep, I worried that I wasn’t being a “good mom” because I set this limit.

Whatever your boundary is, accept it. Acknowledge it. Stop apologizing for it.

Over time, I’ve realized that this was just that pesky mom guilt sneaking in again. Oh, how mom guilt loves to make us fret, doesn’t it? With time and age—not to mention the fact that my kids are incredible sleepers—I stopped fretting and worrying. Just because we are mothers doesn’t mean we can’t have boundaries, especially when those boundaries help us be the good moms that we want to be, the good moms that we know we are.

It was never really about sleeping with my kids; it was about boundaries and telling that pesky mom guilt to take a hike. Because it will always be something, right?

Whatever your boundary is, accept it. Acknowledge it. Stop apologizing for it.

Maybe you love snuggling up with your child at night. If so, go for it. Maybe you have an early bedtime or you have a playdate limit or you say “no” to weekend activities so you can decompress with your family. Whatever your boundaries are, respect them. Own them. Be empowered by them, not ashamed of them. Because you are doing what it takes to be the best mom you can be.

Related: Why I Share a Bed With My Baby

So whatever your mom boundary is, shed the mom guilt about it. We are mothers, not martyrs. And we should feel empowered by, not guilty about, setting boundaries that help us be the best mothers we can be. When we set these boundaries, we aren’t just taking care of ourselves, we are teaching our children valuable lessons about boundaries, body autonomy and healthy relationships.

We are showing them that their wants don’t take precedence over others’ needs. And we are showing them that it is possible to love them with all of our hearts while also respecting ourselves. And in doing so, we are showing them how to love and respect themselves too.

essays, Sleep

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