‘My 3-year-old daughter sleeps in bed next to me every night’

‘I did everything by the book after our daughter was born. A healthy sleep rhythm, that was my goal. And so I never let her sleep in the playpen but always in her own bed. I taught Emma that she could put herself to sleep by not running at every sound. And she never slept in our bed. It paid off. It went perfectly for about three and a half years. I could put her on the bed in her own room, after which she slept around the clock. I should have done that nicely, I thought proudly. And I was sure: I would never let my child sleep in our bed just like that, if only she was ill. ‘

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Just be strict

‘To be honest, I sometimes looked pitifully at other parents who just couldn’t get their children to sleep and ended up in bed with their offspring between them every night. Just being a bit strict I thought. But secretly it seemed nice too, such a warm little worm in bed, the soft hairs in your face. Emma didn’t even want to go to bed with us, I had trained her so severely.

Everything changed about six months ago. I read to Emma in the big bed when she fell asleep after a long day at the daycare center. Grunting in her Frozen pajamas, I found her so sweet that I couldn’t bear to put her down. That night she slept between my husband and me for the first time. It was the start of a fixed ritual. ‘

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I want to sleep

After that night it happened more and more that Emma fell asleep in our bed and stayed there all night. Or that she slept in her own bed, but woke up at night and then crawled in between us.

I sometimes protested, because I hadn’t taught her to sleep so well in her own room for nothing, had I? But when I tried to put her back in her bed, she would cry heartbreakingly and cling to me like a frightened monkey. Maybe weak of me, but then I immediately tacked. Partly because of laziness and fatigue: I just want to sleep at night and not have to deal with a hysterically crying child. Fortunately my husband agrees completely. ‘

Goodbye, principles

‘When I used to hear about parents who did co-sleeping, I didn’t like it. But now I do it myself and I just honestly say that I enjoy it. That warm little body next to me, her little arms around my neck, the morning kisses.

Emma will start primary school in two months: a new phase in which she will increasingly detach herself from me and have her own little life. All very normal, healthy and logical, but that makes me cherish these moments even more. Time goes so crazy fast, before I know it she’s a grumpy teenager who doesn’t even want me around anymore.

Not everyone understands my cover. My sister, for example, thinks I’m crazy. She thinks it’s weird that I’ve thrown my principles overboard and now do exactly what I swore I’d never do. Well, as long as I understand it myself.

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