Here in the Middlebrooks' household we make our bed and then lie in it. With a three year old, a 10 month old, an australian shepherd and an orange tabby.
This scenario is the parenting equivalent of driving without insurance or riding the MAX without paying for a ticket. It is NOT advisable. It seems easier in the moment, but it will come back to bite you later (presumably when you're in transit jail for illegal light rail riding).
Good parenting suggests that people sleep better without elbows in their ears and heels in their ribs (shocking). Good parents love their children to pieces, and know that babies sleeping in their own bed=happy, well rested kids AND parents. I know this in my head, but I fall apart on execution.
The primary reason the kids end up in bed with us is because I'm lazy and Luke sleeps through anything. If I have the energy, I do try & return the leeches back to their original habitat. But the one that walks creeps back in and the one in diapers cries for his momma. Which leads me to the secondary reason the kids end up in bed with us:
We kind of like them there.
In the last few months we've been putting Jo to bed in our room so that she doesn't wake up Baylor in their room. This is a bit of a circus, and she has lots of interesting and imaginative things that become critically pressing after she is to be in bed. I'm not joking when I say that a few nights ago she had to go potty 4 times, get water 3 times, needed a snack, needed to give me one more smooch, and repeatedly requested that I give her a "quick nuggle (snuggle)." I complained about this to a fellow parent and she said, "oh my gosh! you did the thing where you just walk her back to her bed without saying anything, right?" (as in the super-nanny method). Without hesitating I said, "Oh yeah- I did that." I just LIED outright without even considering telling her that I assisted in all 4 potty efforts, supplied water, and even...gulp...gave her goldfish crackers when she was supposed to be asleep.
Really- I know that is no good. We've started serious routine improvements to the bed-time routine, but I'm not going to kick her out of bed all together, and here's why:
1. There is not a single person on this planet (apologies to Luke & Brad Pitt) that I'd rather cozy up to when I crawl in to bed besides Johonna. She melts into me, she smells good, and scientifically (or maybe spiritually) there is something that is righted in my world when she is safe and asleep in my arms.
2. In the event that Jo is still up when I come to bed, I softly run my hand over her hair and she puts her hands on my face. Sort of like monkeys grooming one another. Whatever she says in this small window of time before sleep, is precious. The other night she sang to me, "I like my mommy, I like my daddy."
3. The other night Luke got home late from out of town. By then both Jo & Baylor (and Rucker & Annie) were in our bed. He cracked the door, looked in, and said what I think sums it up quite well: "my whole tribe is here."
4. Baylor reaches for me in his sleep and quiets when he finds me. I cannot assure him of wealth, health or happiness in this life, but I can meet this need.
5. When I leave in the morning I love to see Luke and Jo all snuggled up on about 35% of the bed. Usually she has a stray arm and/or foot slung over him. By then Baylor is back in his crib and I'm out of bed, but the haven't yet stretched out to appreciate the extra space.
6. The bottom line is that I know these moments will not last forever. Though I cannot imagine it happening now, there will come a time when their little bodies will be more THEIRS than mine. When they don't need me as much or want me (gulp) as much. When they no longer appreciate a shoulder in their nose or a kneecap in their back.
So for now, they can continue to cramp our style. I will drink more coffee in lieu of sleeping solidly. I will stretch a neck that is stiff from contortionist sleep. I will nuggle my babies for as long as they'll let me.