Most people are shocked to hear that we co-slept (well, one of us at a time, anyway) with our then 3 year old for pretty much her entire life, except for the first nine months.
Which is weird, because usually it's kind of the other way around.
It partly had to do with her sleep disorder/sensory processing disorder and her developmental delays. When she was an infant, we would put her in one of those infant swing things, where she would doze for hours and hours in blissful sleep. We were thrilled! If only everything could be so easy! She hated sleeping any other way. What we didn't realize at the time that this was the first sign of her SPD, the fact that swinging in that swing calmed her so thoroughly and instantaneously. We just thought we lucked out in the infant sleeping department.
For the record, Mr. P hated the infant swing we had gotten as a gift. It went unused in a corner for months.
Then, little lady grew too big for the damn swing. We kept putting her in it, even though she was getting too heavy for it and was burning out the motor! So we tried putting her in a crib, and that was a non-starter. We tried a co-sleeper bassinet thingy. Also a no-go.
So, we did what we did with Mr. P and co-slept. It had worked wonderfully with him, although we had some slightly different circumstances in that one of us was always sleeping with him in his "own" bed in his own room.
With Miss P, we had gotten rid of a mattress to make room for a crib (stupid) and thus found ourselves in a crisis situation. Especially when she began waking up in the middle of the night, usually around 1AM, and would cry sometimes until 4AM. It could last anywhere from one to four hours. And when I say cry, I really mean screaming. I mean hitting her head on the headboard, on the pillow, on the person next to her. Flailing, panicky, almost hysterical screaming that kept everyone but Mr. P up and on edge the entire time. This, I was to find out much later, also another symptom of her SPD.
She would do the screaming thing probably 5 nights out of 7, sometimes more, never less. Somehow Hubba-hubba and I struggled through the lack of sleep and trying to reconcile this creature and her behavior. Because her behavior was truly alarming. We feared for her safety, as sometimes she would get out of bed and blunder around, all the while screaming. She also would take up to two hours to fall asleep. So I would just lay there with her until she tired herself out from hitting her head or yelling or whatever she felt like doing instead of sleeping.
Of course we told our pediatrician, who I truly think felt we were exaggerating. I wish we were, if anything, we were understating the problem. He informed us it was probably teething. Man, he was wrong. It took her years to grow out of the screaming at night stage. Some symptoms of SPD improve as the both the child and their central nervous system mature. This one took quite a while to reach a point where she would not wake up at night.
Anyhoo, cut to just this weekend when we were finally able to rearrange the house so that Miss P could have her own room. Unfortunately, this meant that Mr. P had to be kicked out of the bigger room and sent to the smaller room, which we were loathe to do and was another reason we waited so long. But sleeping with her was becoming intolerable, and I don't think she liked it much either. Too much snoring.
I thank our lucky stars that she had zero issues sleeping in her own room and (knock on wood) this will be the third night in a row that she happily nestled into her "princess bed." She is even sick and still fine with the transition, so I hope this is permanent.
But really, the horror stories about children never leaving the family bed and all that has never been my experience. We waited until we felt each of our children were ready to handle the transition, and both times, it has been pretty seamless.
Which is my roundabout way of saying do what works for you! Co-sleep or don't! Change is possible!