Why we let our three-year-old sleep in our bed — Adventures in accidental bed-sharing

3 year old bday

Beatrice at her third birthday party

It started innocently enough. Adam and I were sleeping in our second-floor bedroom when we woke to the sound of Beatrice creeping up our creaky wooden stairs. I could barely see her in the dark as she shuffled over to our bed clutching her stuffed guys and pillow. She was so adorable — such a big venture for a tiny 2.5 year old, and in the dark! — that we helped her into bed and went back to sleep.

It quickly became a habit. Beatrice really had our number on this one, because as much as we wanted to be firm, it was winter, a cold, unrelenting winter, and the prospect of getting out of our warm bed and walking her back downstairs was unpleasant and it was so much easier to let her climb in bed, roll over, and go back to sleep.

Also, we had both just started consistently, blissfully, sleeping through the night. We were weak.

We were nervous about our accidental bed-sharing situation — would we come to resent it? Would it be painful to undo? But we also both loved part of it as well. Adam was working long hours so extra cuddle time with Beatrice filled up something for both of them. And since I had to give so much attention to baby Blythe, I relished my snuggle time with my big girl.

girls on toddler bed

Blythe and Beatrice playing around in Beatrice’s bed.

So in mutual, silent agreement, we let it continue. We firmed up the parameters a bit — coming up in the middle of the night was OK, but she had to fall asleep in her bed so we could have some time to ourselves. Since Beatrice is a regular Strega Nona audiobook listener at bedtime, we set her CD player to play on repeat for two hours. If she woke up and Strega Nona was off, she could come up.

The real reason I’ve let Beatrice continue coming into our bed every night is because I know that her childhood will go by so fast, and she won’t always want to snuggle with us this much.

So much of daily mothering is correcting and guiding her toward being a big, independent girl, that it feels really good just to be quiet with her. To cuddle her and sit for a moment, watching the room lighten and the day break.

To let her be a little girl who needs her mama. And to let myself be a mama who needs her little girl.

family

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