They were never supposed to sleep with us.
It was a conversation my husband and I had when I was still pregnant with our oldest. We didn’t have anything against bed sharing, per se, but it just wasn’t for us.
Our oldest was born. He slept in his own crib . . . always. We put him to bed at the same time each night . . . always. When he cried in the night, we followed our agreed-upon routine . . . always. We stuck to the plan . . . always.
Because naturally, as first-time parents, we knew consistency was the ruler of all things parenting. We were so wise.
Then he grew older and was joined by a little brother, and things began to change ever so slightly. There was a season when little feet would patter to our bedside in the middle of the night and we would shuttle them right back where they belonged, even if we had to do so five times a night. But at some point, we realized how dang TIRED we were and how much easier it was to just slide over, make room, and go back to sleep, which is precisely what we started to do.
Now, before I go on, I feel the need to make a few disclaimers here:
The first being that if you are a schedule-following, routine-making, no-wiggle-room parent . . . GOOD FOR YOU. This is in no way condemning any of that.
The second being that I still believe consistency holds a lot of power and importance.
If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last four years which have OBVIOUSLY made me a PERFECT, EXPERT mother (*cough, cough*) . . . it’s this:
Consistency is not king.
As parents, we have to figure out how to survive.
Not because parenting is unbearable or miserable or awful, but because it’s hard. Even under the very best circumstances, on the very best days, it. Is. HARD.
And all those things we swore we’d never budge on—the screen time we said we’d never give, or the refined sugar we would monitor so closely, or the bed-sharing we long ago decided would never be for us—we start to wiggle just a bit.
To keep our sanity.
To allow us a second to breathe enough so that we can be the best parents possible.
As long as our babies are being loved and cared for and we’re doing our best to teach them to be good human beings, it’s OK to throw the book out the window sometimes and do what feels right for us and our family.
It’s OK to not do things exactly like your mom or your best friend or your neighbor down the street.
It’s OK to let your kids sleep with you so you can get a little more rest, but it’s also OK to hold true to your bedtime routines and follow them to a T every single night.
It’s OK to let your kids watch a few too many episodes of Paw Patrol and it’s OK to not let your kids watch any TV.
It’s OK to expect your kids to clean their own room one day, and then pick it up for them the next.
It’s OK to put your kids to bed some nights without brushing their teeth because they’re in extreme meltdown mode and a pillow under their head will do them a lot more good than a toothbrush in their mouth.
It’s OK to do as you see fit in any given situation even when others around you are shaking their heads or raising their eyebrows, because here’s the biggest secret of all . . . you know your kids better than anyone else ever can or ever will.
It’s OK to choose survival over consistency.
And it’s OK if your bed looks like this on a fine Sunday morning.
This post originally appeared on Bouncing Forward with Casey Huff