A Family Affair

Children_Sleeping_In_Their_Parents_Bed_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_091010-006362-272053The picture above simply made me laugh a little. And provided me with a little comfort that if there is a clip art for my dilemma then apparently, somewhere in the world, someone else is going through the same thing. I am not alone.

When we moved into our new home last April, it took us a few days to get the main things like beds and furniture where it needed to be. We had moved absolutely everything from the apartment to the house in 2 days, so there was no setting it up as we went. It was more like, just stack it in a bedroom so that we can walk around right now.

For those first few nights we slept, as a family, on our mattresses in the floor. (We were still having to work full time other than the 2 days we moved everything into the house.) So for three whole nights, our daughter had to sleep in the bed with us. When we were at the apartment, she had been sleeping in her own room and in a toddler bed. It was amazing! She would tell us goodnight and get in bed on her own. Now, we did have to leave the hall light on, and if we got too quiet she would call out to us. So we generally put her to bed an hour before we wanted to go to bed so that she could hear us cleaning up, etc. I thought, “How could we get this lucky with bedtime?” (I had heard the horror stories.) That all changed when we moved into the house.

Suddenly, she would scream, fight, cry, and have a complete panic episode if we tried to put her to bed in her new bedroom. It all went down hill from there. We eventually graduated into letting her fall asleep with us, then we would move her.. until every single night between 2 and 4 a.m. she woke us up screaming and crying and calling to us. Every. Single. Night. Whatever, let her sleep in the bed. I’m dying. Yes, those were our first mistakes. Then, she began to have, what we self-diagnosed as, night terrors. She kicked, punched, yelled, fought in the middle of the night with nothing in particular. We researched night terrors and sleeping problems in toddlers. She gets plenty of sleep at night, and other than the move last April, we cannot figure out anything else stressful going on that could be causing night terrors. Even though she does not get an excessive amount of sugar, and to the best of our knowledge, no caffeine at all, we even went the extra step to completely avoid these factors. Since doing that and paying extra attention to sleep routines, the night-terror-things are down to just a few a month. (They had started occurring nightly.)

Since then, I have read multiple articles that should all be titled, “This is MY Opinion On How YOU Should Put YOUR Child to Bed.”

Here is the basic gist of it all:

1. Create a routine. Literally every night needs to be the same.
2. Don’t speak to your child if they wake in the night. Put them back in bed and walk away without a word. Huh?
3. No matter what, never let your kid sleep with you. It only breaks the routine.
4. A whole lot more on how to correctly prepare them for bed.

Here is the thing, we do have an over all daily routine, but we live in this moment called life. There is absolutely no way that I can start and finish a bedtime process every single night the exact same way and time. I have a kid. Did we miss that part when writing those books? Nothing ever happens as planned. Sometimes we need things from the store, or someone comes over, or we visit grandma. Also, how am I not supposed to want to comfort my toddler in the middle of the night when she’s crying profusely and loudly, “Mama pweeeaasssssee. Mamaaaaa.” I can just envision the tears and snot the moment my eyes open. Maybe it is our fault, maybe we just aren’t these textbook style kind of parents. I value any sleep over being textbook correct. BUT I will be the first to admit, there is something on the brink of needing to change. She is turning three this month. It has almost been a year since we moved into the house, surely by now the house is not strange or new. We drove by the old apartment building the other day and asked if she knew what that was and her reply was, “no, my don’t know.”

We are looking for ideas from real parents who have been there. Who do not have textbook children or lives.

Have your children ever suddenly changed sleeping habits or routines for the worse? What were things you tried? What worked for your little one?