I love co-sleeping. I think one of the greatest gifts we get as parents is to hold and look upon our sleeping angels. I especially love the idea of being able to cuddle with them all night long; listening to that tiny snore and soft, peaceful breathing; watching their eyes twitch while having little baby dreams. We co-slept with our son for the first 4 months before we realized that the idea was much different from the reality.
I come from a family of light sleepers that struggle with occasional insomnia. Ever since I was 18 I have had a troubled relationship to sleep, often turning to relaxation yoga and natural sleep aids and occasionally turning to heavy dose prescription sleep pills when in a multi-month long battle with insomnia. So for me, having another squirming, noisy person squished right next to me was the worst possible thing for my sleep.
So there came the day when I knew that it just wasn’t going to work. I called my best friend and cried because I didn’t want to kick my son out all on his own. We started him out in his own room and gradually he slept longer and longer. (You can read our transition story here) It was only after my bed was finally mine again that I realized how very much co-sleeping was not for us. I began getting sleep again and all of the body aches from weird sleeping positions faded away. When he slept away from me I missed him and just cherished him so much more during the day.
Dr. Sears speaks so much about nighttime parenting and the benefits of co-sleeping that I felt so pressured! I felt that applying his theory would make me a better mother and that doing the opposite would make me just terrible. In our case we found that we could have a barely successful mother 24 hours a day or sleeping mother who is super successful 12 hours a day. In theory co-sleeping is just divine, but in the end you must find what works for your unique family.
There is much debate about which parenting method is the ‘right’ one. It seems, at times, that I see wars going on all over the place; CIO vs. co-sleeping, Attachment parenting vs. Babywise, Day care vs. Stay at hom moms, etc. etc. etc. I’ve often thought that perhaps all of this debate is rather pointless. Perhaps all of this parenting advice is just helpful tools or even confirmations for us that we are doing the right thing for our children. We choose the philosophy that resonates with us the most and use that as our guide, and then we have these little people that join us in our world and get everything they need from our own individual styles as parents. They chose US as parents, and naturally we will give them everything they need to become the adults they are meant to be.
I chose a Waldorf/RIE method to follow for my parenting style and my profession. At the heart of Waldorf philosophy, the work we do is primarily of a spiritual nature. This could also be interpreted as intuition if you choose to see it that way. There are actually exercises and meditations we can do to stregthen this spiritual/intuitive quality in us as mothers. Some believe that we all have Spiritual helpers, or Angels, that help guide our way. As a woman who works with young children for my life’s work, I feel that this is so true for me. If I am actively working on my meditative/inner work practice, I am allowing myself to be open to divine intuition to help guide my way from day to day. I’m not thinking about how to work within a certain pre-determined method; I am listening to the moment. During a particularly challenging time, we can wait a few moment before we react and take a deep breath and the answer to the problem might be given to us.
Now, this is what I am experiencing in my work with children and it might be entirely different for everyone else, but the intuition is still there for each of us. Whether you are following Angels and intuition or following a book, you are following your heart and doing exactly the right thing for YOUR children. Can you imagine a world where, instead of criticism and blame, we are surrounded by support and understanding? Can you imagine being out in public and not feeling self-conscious of your parenting but feeling empowered by the people around us? What are you thoughts on how to bring acceptance and trust for every mother and her own individual parenting method?