Sleep is a huge waste of my time. Not everyone’s time, mind you, but certainly mine. Spending 1/3 of my life unconscious deprives me of valuable hours that I could spend being awesome. In fact, you should be just as upset that sleep is depriving you of more me. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who should sleep more than they already are, because their being awake isn’t benefitting any of us. Regardless of all that we, as humans, require a considerable amount of sleep to function at our highest level and to be generally healthy. As such, I make sure I get a significant number of hours in every night.
Most parents will tell you that having a baby means giving up sleep for anywhere between 6 months and 23 years. My wife and I gamed the system early on with a simple rotating feeding schedule, battery powered swing, and co-sleeping. From the first week we were both getting at least 5–6 consecutive hours plus additional hours after that. In general, we felt pretty well rested for being the parents of a newborn. It wasn’t long before we phased out the feeding schedule and, shortly thereafter, the swing. Notice that I didn’t mention the co-sleeping.
Frankie Four is just about to turn 18 months old and has slept every night of his life in bed with us. Every night. All of them. Granted, I’ve traveled a bit for work so some of the nights were just he and Lisa, but he’s always slept with one of us.
He’s had a crib since birth and has been asleep in it, but only for a few daytime naps, never at night. It was so underused that we converted it to a toddler bed early just so he could crawl in and out of it for fun. Today, it sits in our bedroom, acting as a holding pen for stuffed animals, spare blankets, and sometimes clean laundry that goes unfolded for days ̶s̶o̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶w̶i̶f̶e̶ ̶b̶e̶t̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶ ̶h̶e̶r̶ ̶a̶s̶s̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶g̶e̶a̶r̶ because it’s tough to stay on top of household chores when you have a toddler.
We didn’t intend to co-sleep for the length of time or in the manner that we did/still do. In fact, we bought a co-sleeper that attached to our bed so Lisa could breast feed then roll our fat little baby back into his own space. Frankie wasn’t having it. As far as he was concerned, our space was his space. I have no idea where he got ̶m̶y̶ that sense of entitlement. From day one, unless he was in the swing, he’d only sleep on or adjacent to us. Most of the time he slept with his lips attached to Lisa’s boob, which I think we can all agree is the best way to sleep. Or be awake, for that matter. Take that Ambien.
When he’s not attached to the boob he finds some position that doesn’t inhibit my comfort or sleep at all. He’s a very considerate little guy.
Co-sleeping gets mixed reviews in the parenting world which I totally understand. Before we were forced into embraced it, I considered it some hippie bullshit that women who didn’t shave their pits and named their kid Featherbreeze did. Being lumped in with those yurt dwelling shroom eaters horrified me, but once I burned all of the dreamcatchers hanging in that imagined world, I bought in. Ever since, having Frankie Four in bed with us has been one of the most gratifying aspects of fatherhood. And today I am the greatest at co-sleeping just as I am the greatest at all other aspects of parenting. As such, I’ve listed 5 of the potential problems that can arise from sharing a bed with your child, along with my solutions. However, because you’re not me, you’ll probably screw it up and damage your kid, so I take no legal or moral responsibility for anything you do.
1- BED SHARING WITH AN INFANT IS DANGEROUS
Experts say not to share a bed with an infant if you are overweight, drink, smoke, take sedatives, have long hair, use blankets or pillows or sheets or a mattress, shit yourself at night, light fires in bed, sleep with a live alligator, watch Downton Abbey, create vision boards, think Trump “makes a lot of sense”, live in a home that had wheels but is now on cinderblocks, have too many sister-wives, think Tupac is alive, have a sword attached to the headboard, watch WWE, or are just plain stupid. Also, don’t sleep with an infant in your bed. Just don’t. Yes, I did. No, you shouldn’t.
2- NO MORE SEX
You realize that sex is what got you in this predicament in the first place, right? Fine, if you want to continue playing Russian roulette with your finances/freedom/sleep/youth, read on. Your child is sleeping in your bed, so now you just have to relocate your shenanigans to other areas of your home. You can make the beast with two backs on the crunchy bed of Cheerios and crackers he’s gingerly placed on your sofa. Perhaps a steamy encounter on the kitchen counter between the leftover bowl of dried noodles she refused to eat and the half chewed Fig Newton she spit out because even toddler’s know that Fig Newton’s are fucking gross. Maybe a romantic interlude in front of the fireplace on a sticky, juice soaked rug where your spine will be tickled by the soft kiss of Lego pieces and one broken toy truck. There are countless places where you can throw down while your kid drools all over your pillow. Personally, by the time night rolls around, my version of “sex” is staying awake long enough to watch one show on the iPad. So F4 sleeping like a giant dash mark between us isn’t infringing on my action. My peak energy level/libido is early afternoon so if homeboy naps we’re in flagrante delicto somewhere in the house. If you want to use the bed to boink during the day, find another comfortable spot for your kid to nap. Below are some suitable options:
3- BED SHARING WITH A TODDLER IS DANGEROUS
Whereas sharing your bed with an infant is dangerous to them, bed sharing with a toddler is dangerous to you. A spinning back fist to the face is bad enough, but when your son is genetically gifted with powerful legs because he has your genes, it’s the feet you have to fear. I’ve been kicked in both eyes, the nose, both ears, the temple, the forehead, the throat, and the testicles, all multiple times. My beloved boy likes to sleep sideways across the bed, with his head near his mother, for obvious reasons (See: Boobs), and his feet near me. Asleep or awake, he kicks his feet like a bull with a rope tied around his nuts trying to buck off a cowboy . On more than one occasion I thought I had a broken nose. There are only two solutions to this problem. Solution 1 is to wear a hockey mask or one of those beekeeper hoods that fencers wear. Solution 2 is to stop being a pussy. If you can’t take a punch or a kick from a toddler then you’re not a man. If you’re a woman, you’re already not a man but now you’re even less of a man.
4- YOU WON’T ̶B̶E̶ ̶F̶O̶R̶C̶E̶D̶ GET TO CUDDLE
Woman, I’m sorry to say that there’s no solution to this particular problem.
Men, you’re welcome.
5- YOU’LL GET WOKEN UP EARLY/THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT
Early — People who sleep in are lazy. By the time my son wakes up I’ve already worked out, showered, perfected my hair game for the day, checked my email, and still had 10 spare minutes to flex in the mirror. If you sleep in you don’t deserve to sleep in.
Throughout The Night — 60 ounces of coffee every day, along with a gallon of water and a 46 year old prostate, means I pee every half hour all night long. My son complains that I wake him up too many times. If you sleep normally, and so does your kid, you’ll be fine. Otherwise the two of you can stay up together for fun time! Mommy will love that.
Look, there’s lists on lists of reasons that people don’t co-sleep and I support their right to not care about their children as much as I care about mine. The fact is, I love co-sleeping. I’m a first time, and decidedly “one-and-done”, dad. In the immortal words of Aerosmith, “I don’t wanna miss a thing “. Having Frankie fall asleep with his head on my chest, snuggle up to me in the middle of the night, and smile at me when he opens his eyes in the morning, are some of my favorite moments.
I know his childhood won’t last forever so I’m embracing every opportunity to connect, and just be with him. One day he’ll be too big to want to give me 10 kisses goodnight, or cuddle, or even sleep in our bed. After some emotional adjustment, I’ll embrace that stage too. But for now I’m going to enjoy the fact that I love my boy so much that comfort, sleep, and an unbroken nose don’t compare to me being allowed to doze off with him every night and wake up with him every day.
And how could you pass up witnessing the childlike wonder as your little one peacefully watches the sun come up out the window?
But really, this sums up co-sleeping better than any words.
Originally published at http://badassdad.com on August 23, 2016.