"I wouldn't change those nights for the world," Dr. Britten Cole writes in her latest blog for PEOPLE of letting her kids sleep in her bed
Please welcome back celebrity blogger Dr. Britten Cole!
Dr. Cole, an anesthesiologist and mother of two, splits her time between Orlando, Florida, and Los Angeles, where she’s starring on the inaugural season of Married to Medicine: Los Angeles. Aside from appearing on the hit Bravo series’ new spin-off, she is currently working on finding permanent medical employment on the west coast.
Before she became an anesthesiologist, Dr. Cole worked as an officer in the Navy alongside her best friend, Married to Medicine: Atlanta star Dr. Contessa Metcalfe.
Dr. Cole and husband Mack Major share two children: Mack Jr., 7, and Ivy, 8. You can find her on Instagram @brittencolemd.
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Call me crazy, but I confess, I am that mom: My children sleep in my bed.
Actually, my kids have been sleeping in our bed since they were able to walk. It wasn’t until recently that our 8-year-old daughter started sleeping in her own room after proclaiming she was no longer afraid to snooze alone. I think I have her cell phone to blame, or perhaps thank, for this turn of events.
I know many couples who would vehemently disagree with letting children co-sleep. But in my opinion, I do whatever it takes to get to bed and stay there.
Some would promote staying with kids until they fall asleep. The problem is my kids wake up as soon as I try to escape. Others say, “Just take them back to their rooms immediately when they come in pajama-ready.” This has been a no-go. My little monsters will fight like their lives depend on it to stay in our room.
More from Dr. Cole’s PEOPLE.com blog series:
- Dr. Britten Cole’s Blog: Are Baby Dolls Making My Black Children Feel Inferior?
- Dr. Britten Cole’s Blog: How Hiring Help with Cooking and Cleaning Has Made Me a Better Mom
- Dr. Britten Cole’s Blog: Am I a “Bad Mom” for Splitting My Time Between Two Coasts?
I didn’t want to fight with them in the middle of the night, nor did I want to hear them wailing for my husband and me to come get them. For us, the easiest thing to do was to surrender to the family-bed concept, so we could all get some sleep. The caveat to this plan is that, as time passed, our once spacious king-sized bed grew increasingly smaller no longer accommodating the four of us. My daughter spun like the minute hand of a clock throughout the night. My son would literally lie on top of one of us as if we were the mattress.
So although we were able to get to sleep easily, staying asleep became problematic. Along with the kids confiscating our bed came sleepless nights, plus back and neck pain. After complaining to a work colleague about my sleeping situation, it was clear what we had to do. Not kick them out of the room — don’t be silly, we love having them in our space. Instead, we put a mattress on the floor in our room for the kids to sleep on.
Might sound crazy, but it worked great. Embracing this new setup, both kids and parents were happy. The kids felt safe being in the same room with us, and we were able to enjoy a night of restful sleep. But with one problem solved, it highlighted another: the lack of privacy. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
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To be honest, I actually love having the kids in my room with me and occasionally even in my bed. I know these aren’t ideal sleeping conditions, but it’s so temporary. I’m willing to endure the discomfort of a foot in my back just to have them near me. Some nights are sleepless, but some aren’t. I feel that’s part of the parenting experience. You take the good with the bad. If sleeping with us makes my children feel safe and protected, then I’ll welcome it.
People tell me all the time to “get those kids out of your room,” but I feel at peace when they’re next to me or in the same room. Particularly when my husband travels for work, having them in the room makes me feel less anxious about their well-being. I don’t see anything wrong with letting them sleep in my bed or room for as long as it takes until they feel comfortable enough to sleep alone. I’m building their sense of security, just as my mom did for me.
As for privacy, let’s just say my husband and I have learned to be creative.
As of six months ago, my daughter decided she was old and brave enough to sleep in her own room. The days of her needing us to feel safe at night have passed, and she has begun building a sense self-assuredness. The veil of childhood fantasy is slowly fading away as she is learning what is real in the world around her. This time has flown by, and I’ll miss our hugs and cuddles at night.
Sadly, my son will be next. Most nights he will choose to sleep with his sister over Mom and Dad. But he, too, must grow up, so I guess I’ll let him fly when he’s ready.
If you never had the privilege and joy of having your brood in bed with you at night, you really missed out on some sweet and cherishable memories. I wouldn’t change those nights for the world. In the end, these kids are just passing through. I just have to make sure they feel secure enough to fly.