Good evening, Persephoneers. Well, as is almost tradition now, I’m in my pyjamas as I write. But given the hour, I think it’s quite a reasonable state of dress to be in. Or perhaps it is that my mind is somewhat preoccupied with the idea of sleep. Indeed, both caregiving and parenting are experiences that can at times disagree with the concept of sleep. So for tonight, I thought I would spend Parenting (Part 2) regaling you all with the epic tale that is our journey with co-sleeping.
This is something that came to be part of our parenting, both through how we wanted to parent and also through the needs that caregiving and mental illness presented us with. From a parenting point of view, co-sleeping was something that simply made sense to us. It seemed natural to have Juniper Junior close to us.
The caregiving aspect was that disrupted nights would hinder what I could do in the day. Given that Mr. Juniper wasn’t in a position to give a lot of physical support, and given too, that I needed to be able to support him both emotionally and physically, exhaustion was not something I needed. And so co-sleeping meant night feeds and soothing could be done without ever getting out of bed. I’m also someone who needs sleep, preferably nine or ten hours, if I can. So consistently having to get out of bed was a much greater disruption to my sleep than the same need to wake if I could stay in bed. On the stress side, co-sleeping also meant that we were close and any crying could be swiftly seen to. In short: co-sleeping was a low-stress and sleep-friendly approach to night times and that was fantastic.
There was one aspect where Mr. Juniper’s mental illness meant we had to make adjustments to co-sleeping. Co-sleeping itself can be done safely but that means following safety guidelines and one of the primary guidelines is not to co-sleep if a parent is taking medication (especially sleep aids). This meant that Juniper Junior never slept between Mr. Juniper and I at night. It simply wouldn’t have been safe. So we used a bed guard, and Juniper Junior slept between me and the guard. This adaption didn’t prove to be a problem, and it was simply something we had to do.
Our time co-sleeping was three years. Around Juniper Junior’s third birthday, we moved his cotbed into his room and the peaceful nights continued. Before this, he continued to sleep in our room, but not in our bed. It was from around eighteen months old that he moved into his cotbed and away from us. We did for a short time try getting him to sleep in his room, but the evenings proved too stressful for all involved. He wasn’t ready and we’re a household that appreciates the impact of stress. When we did move him into his room, the transition was smooth from the first night. We waited until he was ready.
That in itself, the idea of waiting until he was ready, was very much something influenced by my caregiving. In being with Mr. Juniper, I have come to appreciate more than ever the differences between guidance and force. We could guide Juniper Junior through the transitions involved in going from our bed, to his bed in our room, to his bed in his room but we weren’t going to force him through those transitions. Force can work, I don’t doubt it, but by waiting until Juniper Junior was ready, neither did he have us wrapped around his little finger, nor was he distressed by an action he wasn’t yet able to cope with.
And for tonight, this where I’m going to leave the Caregiving Parenting Saga. Goodnight Persephoneers.