As a parent, you are judged from the moment you wake them up ("sugar-filled cereals? Are you mad?") through to the moment you put them to bed ("self-settling or tucking in? What time? Are you sure they cleaned their teeth - properly!?"). You might think that you're owed those peaceful moments as they slumber as time to put your feet up, relax and shrug off the responsibility of being Mum and Dad, and essentially the decision-maker. But you're wrong, as any parent knows, because even in the depths of the night, the parenting police are first in line to tell you that you're still doing it all wrong.
In particular, those that are brave (or foolish!?) enough to confess that they have co-slept with their children, are often judged before they can finish their sentence. "Only when they're poorly!", they quickly backtrack, as they feel the disdain around them growing, "only on the odd occasion! They're usually a good sleeper, except for... the screaming..."
Because being a parent can be tough, sleeping when you're a parent can be even tougher. In our recent survey of 2,610 parents (all of whom remained anonymous to avoid the risk of feeling judged by their answers), we've found that the majority of parents do sometimes share a bed with their little one, albeit a rare occurrence; almost one in five, though, confessed that it's a 'regular' occurrence and 9% 'always' do. Always.
Now that's perhaps not a parent's dream but there's a lot to be said for making room for the little ones when you just really, really need some shuteye. Yes, you will probably have to contend with a foot somehow connecting with your face at 3am and, yes, if you get into the habit it might require a bit more negotiation to break later down the line, when enough really is enough. But even the foot in the face scenario won't detract from the fact that you're likely to get a better night's sleep than you would if they were howling the house down - and so will the neighbours.
Our research revealed that the average bed sharing parent gets woken just once per night, while those who stick to their guns and sleep separately contend with three disturbances during the average night. The bed sharers also end up getting an hour and a half more sleep a night than the others, comparing 7.5 blissful hours of slumber to just six.
And that extra hour and a half - that's the difference between burnt toast or wholesome porridge, shoes on the wrong feet or matching socks, brushed hair or another messy bun; basically, a happy and competent Mummy and/or Daddy, or very stressed ones. It's all about balancing on that tightrope; if sharing a bed means that you're going to have a better tomorrow, does it really warrant all the tuts, head shakes and condescending 'advice' from those who want you to know just how much better they are doing than you are? The truth is, they're just picking different battles.