Behind the bedroom doors of countless American households, something really shocking is taking place. Angelina and Brad do it. So does Kourtney Kardashian. Me, too. Wild sex? Yeah, I wish. I’m talking about families’ crazy sleeping habits, ones that go way beyond co-sleeping. I’m talking about the extreme acts of desperation parents commit to get our kids to go to sleep, the insane compromises we make and the pathetic ways we give in to our kids’ nocturnal demands. These are the habits of perpetually sleep-deprived parents. I’m guilty of all of them. And you?
1. You allow your child to sleep with you.
Nothing against the whole family bed thing, but once you let a kid in there, it is really, really hard to remove him once you’re ready to. When people get bedbugs, they call in an exterminator. When people get a clingy child in their bed, sadly, there’s nobody you can hire to haul him outta there. Although someone could make a lot of money being a nighttime Child Exterminator.
2. You sit on a chair in your child’s room, waiting for him to fall asleep.
This, you think, is progress: Your tot is lying in his new Big Boy Bed. Woo hoo! So what if you have been sitting on the glider in the dark for 45 minutes, desperately hoping that your child will go to sleep and thinking of the 2,679 other things you could be doing. So what if every single time you get up he lifts his head and shoots you a “You’re NOT leaving this room!” look and you sigh and wearily sit back down again. At least he’s not in your bed. Hopefully, you will not die of boredom before he nods off.
3. You lie on the floor of your child’s room, waiting for him to fall asleep.
You’re not going to be one of those pathetic parents who curls into their child’s bed to get them to sleep. No, not you. You have your standards. Which is why you are lying on the hardwood floor next to your child’s bed at 10 PM. His eyes are closed, things are looking good. Slowly but surely, like an inchworm, you propel your body closer and closer to the door. Suddenly, CRAP!, the floor squeaks and your child’s “Moving Parent” radar goes off. “MOMMY!” he says. “I’m here, sweetie, you say,” and you lie your body back down on the cold, hard floor and wonder what possessed you to have children.
4. You invest in sleep aids.
You’re a sleep-deprived mom on a mission: You pick up Johnson’s Bedtime Bath with “NATURAL CALM essences” and a super-cool nightlight and a Pillow Pet and Barney’s Sleepytime Songs CD and you try them all on the same night. And still: You end up sleeping on the floor.
5. You co-sleep… in a CRIB.
OK, you are one of those parents who gets into their kid’s bed or crib to comfort them to sleep. Nothing matters: You will do anything to get your kid to close his eyes. Too bad the only one falling asleep in the crib is you.
6. You give in to bedtime bullying.
People are well aware of school bullying, but there’s a little-discussed form that’s still an epidemic, the kind that wreaks torture and havoc. I’m talking bedtime bullying of parents. It goes like this: “Mommy, can I have a drink of water?”/Mommy, I need to go pee-pee!”/”Mommy, it’s too warm!”/”Mommy it’s too cold!”/”Mommy, I’m scared!”/”Mommy I neeeeeed you!” And of course you give in, because you don’t want your little darling to be a thirsty/overheated/freezing cold/ignored child who will someday require therapy because you ignored her bedtime pleas.
7. You play musical beds.
At approximately 1 a.m. your child wanders into your room. At that hour, your willpower is kaput and so you let her into your bed. As she tosses and turns, your husband decides he’s had enough and he leaves to go sleep in your child’s bed. As you lie there, awake, you decide it’s not fair that he gets to leave and so you go and sleep in the guest room or on the living room sofa. And now your child has your lovely bed all to herself. Hmm… What is wrong with this picture?
8. You lock your child out of your room and seriously regret it.
Sex. You need sex. Except you have a co-sleeping child, the most effective form of birth control ever. So you get a lock on your door and get all tough love and repeatedly return her to her bedroom when she wanders into yours because THIS TIME YOU ARE SLEEP-TRAINING FOR REAL. And one night, after a nonstop tearfest, you actually lock your door and actually have sex without a fear of coitus interruptus. And then you open the door shortly afterward and find your child asleep on the hallway floor. And, wow, do you feel awful… and what exactly did she hear?
9. You. Give. Up.
Surely your child will be out of your bed at some point before he leaves for college. Right? Right?
Other posts to check out: The Weird Stuff We Love About Our Kids Utterly Crazy Mom Fantasies Read more from Ellen at her other blog, Love That Max Follow her on Twitter and Facebook Image/Jamie Ivins MORE ON BABBLE: 11 signs you’re definitely sleep deprived Hilarious adventures in sleep deprivation