I’m a mom of two very busy toddlers, a three-year-old daughter, Omntimande, and a one-year-old son, Lubambo, and I have a confession to make: we co-sleep with our kids. I always envy parents who have already passed the co-sleeping phase – or those who never experienced it at all.
My husband and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and we made the second bedroom gorgeously girly thinking it would encourage our daughter to sleep in it. We also bought our son a cot when he was born but neither of my kids were having it: they both share a bed with mommy and daddy.
When we started co-sleeping, we didn’t imagine this would become ‘our new normal’. While I was breastfeeding it made sense that our kids slept with us as it was just easier but we didn’t realise at the time that we were effectively shooting ourselves in the foot: we thought that as our kids got older they’d move into their own room. They didn’t.
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This has affected our intimacy as a couple because we need to plan around the two bosses of the house or literally wait for them to fall asleep so we can use the other room, interesting right?
How does co-sleeping affect your sex life?
I believe that sex is an important part of a romantic relationship but having our two kids share our bed has obviously affected what happens in our bedroom. Some people ask me what seems like the ‘obvious’ question: can’t you just have sex when they’re asleep? Well, one of my biggest fears is having our children wake up while we’re having sex so we’ve decided against it. Instead, we’ve found other ways to work around the situation, like waiting for them to fall asleep and then using the other room – but it has definitely affected our intimacy.
We’ve had to explore a couple of different options in order to try keep our sex life alive. So far, this is what works for us.
As awkward as it sounds, planning sex and working it into our schedules is what works well for us. During the day our children are usually at daycare and my husband and I both work at home so that’s the best opportunity we get. Not all the sex we have is planned and, when it’s not, it’s so exciting and we love it!
Get them out the house (parents need the break anyway!)
Having someone nearby that you trust to take care of your kids for a couple of hours – or overnight – is a huge bonus. My husband and I are lucky to have a brilliant support system and we’re grateful for all the help we get. My in-laws regularly take my daughter overnight to give us a big of a break. My son is still being breastfed so he refuses to sleep without mommy but once he is weaned, he’ll be able to overnight with my mother in law too. But even only having one child in the house gives my husband and me and break and some much-needed adult time.
Don’t give up
Even though she continues to make her way to our bedroom in the middle of the night, my husband and I are determined to always put our daughter to sleep in her own room. We are hopeful that one day she will sleep alone.
Share your experiences
My daughter has a friend, Thando, who is the same age as her and has her own bedroom, which she sleeps in every night. So I’ve been making a point of talking to my daughter about how nice Thando’s bedroom is, and explain that she sleeps there alone because she’s ‘a big girl’. It may not have worked yet but I do think this will influence her… and we’ll get her to sleep independently eventually.
Our advice for couples who are expecting, please train your children to sleep alone from the earliest age to avoid what we are going through right now. Besides from this affecting our sex life, I always wake up with a sore body from breastfeeding and kicks from little people who just do not know how to sleep properly.
A tired mom
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