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Why We Have an Open Bed Policy

Photograph by Twenty20

Probably the number one thing I was sure about before becoming a mom was that we would absolutely not co-sleep with our children. I wanted to sleep in my own space and the children would sleep in their own spaces all night long with no interruptions. I mean, that's how it usually goes, right?

Wrong. So wrong.

We ended up having two challenging sleepers (#reasonswecanthaveanymorekids) and from the time our first was a tiny baby, we instituted an open bed policy. This means that we encourage our children to sleep in their room and they always start the night by falling asleep in their own beds, but if for some reason they feel the need for a midnight snuggle they are always welcome.

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This policy has actually worked out really well for us and has helped us maximize sleep in our home. Instead of fighting off these small children invading our bed, we decided to embrace them. And sure, maybe our bed got a little crowded at times, but the cuddles are priceless.

Kids don't need their parents only during the day, they also sometimes need them at night. I want my kids to know that if they need me, I'm there.

Part of me really sympathizes with my kids' need to be close to us at night. I sometimes have a hard time falling asleep or have bad dreams or want to feel safe and close to my husband. I get it. Kids don't need their parents only during the day, they also sometimes need them at night. I want my kids to know that if they need me, I'm there. If they are truly afraid or unsure about anything, they can come to me. Building trust and a close bond starts in the early years, and for our family this includes having an open bed policy.

As my kids have gotten older their nighttime visits have drastically decreased. I remember a time when there was always a warm little body in our bed (and an elbow or knee in our ribs,) but now I can't remember the last time one of our kids slept in our bed with us. I like to think that we have built up their feeling of security. They know where we are and they know they can come to us, which just makes them feel better about sleeping in their own beds. It's nice that my husband and I don't wake up with kids between us often anymore, but I have to admit that I do sometimes miss my kids while they're sleeping.

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Even though midnight visits happen a lot less frequently now, one thing that remains is early morning cuddles. For some reason my kids are early risers—waking up before the sun is painful for me so we invite them into our bed to cuddle quietly until we can muster up the energy to get up and make breakfast. While I wish my kids would let me sleep in until at least 7a.m., I absolutely adore when they settle into the crook of my arm and lay quietly with me in the dark. Every once in a while they will even go back to sleep for another 30 minutes to an hour. It's another sweet reminder to me why we love having an open bed policy—anything for a little more sleep!

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