The 5 Inevitable Stages of Co-Sleeping With Your Big Kid

The 5 Inevitable Stages of Co-Sleeping With Your Big Kid

Co-sleeping with your child beyond the baby years is not for the faint of heart.

By Wendy Robinson

It was a dark and stormy night as I tucked my son into bed. Thunder crashed outside, and as he clutched his stuffed toy dog to his chest, he looked at me with big brown eyes full of fear and said, “Please, Mama, don’t go. Let’s have a slumber party!”

And even though I knew deep down that this was a bad idea and the storm would blow over soon, I said “yes.” This is both because I am a sucker for the big puppy eyes and because I was deep in the first stage of big-kid co-sleeping: denial.

Any mom hoping to get a decent night of sleep while sharing a bed with a child who is entirely comprised of elbows and knees is setting herself up to go through five stages, much the same as the classic Kübler-Ross model. Here’s what she can expect:

Denial: During this time you think things like, “Oh, this will be fine! He is so cozy and sweet-looking when he sleeps. This twin bed will be plenty big enough for the two of us.” This stage is very, very short and is quickly followed by stage 2.

Anger: “Did he just kick me AGAIN? How is one small person so pointy? Why is he going full starfish in the middle of the bed? Why did I agree to this?” Your child may be asleep now but you are painfully wide awake as you enter stage 3.

Bargaining: “OK, if I can just fall asleep now, I can still get five hours of sleep. Maybe if I can just move him over a little and put up a pillow wall between us…” Spoiler alert: The pillow wall won’t work and you’ll soon be in stage 4.


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Depression: “I’m never going to fall asleep. Tomorrow is going to be terrible. Everything is terrible.” You might try to sneak out of the bed now but, oh no, your child will sense this and flop on you like a sweaty human blanket before you even get one foot on the floor. Better move on to stage 5.

Acceptance: “This is why coffee was invented. I’ll get a super ultra big mocha with five shots of espresso. It will be fine. Lots of people survive on 45 minutes of sleep a night.”

Then you’ll close your eyes only to be woken up by a sleepy-eyed child who grins at you and says, “Wasn’t that fun? You can sleep with me EVERY NIGHT, Mama!”

Pass the coffee.

Do your big kids still want to have slumber parties with you?

Wendy Robinson is a writer, working mom, and graduate student. Someday she'd like to sleep in again. She also blogs at

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My 9-year-old step-daughter loves it when daddy is working out of town because she knows that means she gets to sleep with me. It always starts out well, she's a cuddler and that's fine. The problems start about halfway through the night when she rolls over and I get a hard elbow in the side or a hand slapping my face.. not really the best way to be woken up.

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