A Guest Post by Anna Cole
My son is 18 months old and most nights I end up falling asleep in his room with him. I’m enjoying our closeness and don’t particularly want to stop sleeping with him (I know at some point, he’ll be pushing me out all together!), but this arrangement means I’m sleeping away from my partner. If I had the choice, I’d love to get a larger bed and have us all co-sleep, but my partner goes quiet when I mention it and seems to be against this idea. I’m not sure what to do to bring us all together, and I’m worried that resentment will build.
What can I do?
What To Do When A Partner Doesn’t Want to Co-Sleep
Dear Loving Mama,
You are incredibly smart to reach out for help around this issue. It’s beautiful to hear of the joy you get from your bedtimes with your delicious little 18-month-old. It can just feel so right to have your little one fall asleep with you right there keeping them warm and safe, and it can, on some nights, be a fast-track to feeling close and connected in a special way.
Approaching A Partner Who Doesn’t Want to Co-Sleep
But I think you are right to be concerned about your partner ‘going quiet’ whenever you raise the idea of co-sleeping. You mention your desire to be as close as you can to your child before he ‘pushes you out of the room’, but I wonder if your partner’s quietness might show that he is sitting on feelings of already being ‘pushed out of the room’ by your evening pattern of falling asleep next to your child, rather than him?
My hunch is you are right to worry that resentment could build. This great article on partnering well in parenting has some good ideas about how you might thaw his quiet into a meaningful communication about what co-sleeping means to you. Your partner might be wondering if you will still have an intimate life as a couple if your child co-sleeps, or if he will ever have you to himself if you do buy a larger co-sleeping bed. For the health of your partnership, these things need some air-time before you go ahead and buy that bigger bed.
You might also think about what co-sleeping looks like in the long term. In my experience, and that of many parents I know, on some nights the joy of connection can be replaced with your own resentment if you feel like you’ve made a rod for your own back as you lie there willing you child to sleep so you can finish that email you’ve been trying to write all day, or just to have a moment of adult time to unwind before the next day begins. For most children, once a pattern of co-sleeping is established, it may be years before you child will voluntarily opt for that to change.
Go well dear loving Mumma! Your child and partner are so lucky to have you caring and thinking so well about this.
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Meet the Instructor – Anna Cole
Anna Cole, PHD, is a Certified Hand in Hand Instructor based in the UK. Anna runs in-person parenting classes in the London, Brighton, and South East area. You can connect with Anna on Facebook.