I have a secret to confess about my parenting skills


When my baby punches me in his sleep on a work night, I end up on the sofa bed in the spare room. Photograph: Getty Images


Stuart Heritage

IT is my belief that every parent has a secret. All parents have something that they are too scared to admit to their peers, on the basis that 95% of all parents are dreadful sneering dimwits, who live purely to berate you for raising your children incorrectly, even though their own kids all grew up to be arsonists and Tories.

But it is a new year, and it is good to be transparent, so I am going to tell you our secret. I have been keeping it from you for 49 weeks now, but screw it. OK, deep breath. Here we go. We co-sleep.

Oh, that felt good. Our son sleeps with us. He still sleeps with us, even though he is nearly a year old and already half the size of my wife. His bed is our bed, our bed is his bed, except when he starts punching me in his sleep on a work night because then the sofa bed in the spare room is my bed. And that is just how life is.

I am not telling you this because I want your judgment, good or bad. I know from experience that a huge swath of the population reacts to the phrase “We co-sleep” in much the same way that everyone else reacts to the phrase, “We bought condoms and heroin and put our baby to work as a drug mule.” I also know that there is a small band of militant co-sleepers who express full-blown contempt for any parents cruel enough to inflict a cot on their precious children. These people are just as weird because, well, co-sleeping is a massive pain in the arse.

It is clearly a pain in the arse. I have been doing it for almost a year and the pitfalls of co-sleeping are perfectly evident. There are space issues. There are duvet issues. There are issues of constant waking. Admittedly, I have perfected the art of balancing my hipbone on the very edge of the mattress and staying there for six straight hours, but, at this stage, that seems less like a boast and more like a desperate cry for help.

Then there are the mornings. When you co-sleep, you find yourself completely at the whim of your child. If he wakes up at 6am – or 5am, or half past three, or 10 seconds after you have gone to sleep – so do you. And it turns out that my son is a morning person. I had previously assumed that I was a morning person, but I have subsequently discovered that this is simply not the case.

When my son wakes up, he snaps alert instantly. He sits bolt upright. He gurgles with glee. Then he performs a rudimentary headcount, by slapping the pair of us in our faces as hard as he can.

Sometimes he will even stand up, jump, and then bring both of his hands crashing down against my skull, like an arctic fox going after a snow-covered field mouse. To this day, I think I have only ever told him to eff off once, which can only speak to my profound and impressive sense of self-control.

There are plus sides to this, of course. The sheer delight on his face as he wakes up next to us is so pronounced that it is impossible not to be cheered by it. And the fact that we are still co-sleeping despite all this must mean that we do actually enjoy it on some level.

But, God, if it gets to 2017 and I’m still writing about co-sleeping, someone kill me. theguardian.com

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