I never had any intention of co-sleeping, but then I gave birth to a horrible sleeper. Now that he is almost two we do our best to have him sleep in his crib, but he doesn't always stay there. Sleeping with a toddler is a "special" kind of experience, one that is best described in stages and with the help of GIFs.
If you never intended to co-sleep then bringing your toddler into your bed starts with a deep burning desire to try anything. You've been awoken one too many times and all you want is sleep, even if that means bringing captain squirm into bed with you.
You tell your husband it's just this one time, you tell your toddler it's just for a few minutes, you tell yourself you'll try to keep them in their crib tomorrow night. You are wheeling and dealing all over the place. You find yourself saying things like: "If you lay down quietly mommy will sing you a song." and "Close your eyes or you have to back in your crib." Anything for a little rest.
Once you get settled, you feel a wave of cozy contentment wash over you. They are so sweet and sleepy curled up next to you that you wonder why you ever tried to keep them in her crib. With a smile on your face, you drift off to sleep.
Even though it happens every night, it is still shocking to be awoken by a kick in the gut or a smack in the face. That sweet snuggle ball has reached a level of sleep that can only be described as Rapid Limb Movement. Your bed suddenly feels far too small for three people.
The easiest way to get your wild sleeper settled is to snuggle them tight. This bear hug approach works well until you wake up to discover you have lost all feeling in one half of your body. The arm they are laying on isn't just asleep, it has left the building. All you want to do is roll over, but you are totally stuck.
There finally comes a time, usually when you've regained use of both arms, that you want to try to sneak the little one back into their crib. This is a risky business. It requires perfect timing and stealth execution. It's totally acceptable to hum the "Mission Impossible" theme song whilst doing it.
As you crawl into your bed and settle into the pillow you no longer have to share, something strange happens. You suddenly realize how quickly your little one is growing up. Soon they won't even want to crawl in bed with you. It's almost enough to make you scoop them back up … almost.