Yesterday, my family celebrated our son’s seventh birthday. Everyone says it’s hard to believe their kids grow up so fast, and I’m certainly not refuting that. The thing that makes me laugh the most is that no matter how much he’s changed, matured, and developed into a wonderful little man…he’s very much still a momma’s (and daddy’s) boy. He loves his hugs, kisses, and personalized attention. I just wonder much longer this will last.
I was just talking with some colleagues this morning about the topic of co-sharing a bed with your children. Here’s a great, in-depth post from BabyCenter.com about the topic. We co-shared with Joey for the first couple of years – not every night, but whenever he was fussy or needed comforting. To this day, on stormy nights or when he’s not feeling swell, he still tries to sneak in and cuddle. While the gesture is nice – in theory – having a seven year old that’s nearly 5-feet tall and 90+ pounds, isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world. We had a really hard time getting our son to break the midnight cycle, but I think we’ve finally figured it out.
I will never call this a “problem”, since we’ve developed a tremendous bond with our son. But there was a time a few years back when we decided it was time to sever our sleeping ties, my wife and I pulled up the blankets and really tucked ourselves in for the challenge. It wasn’t easy, but we did it. So, for those parents out there who are looking for ways to break this tough (yet oh so comforting) habit, I have a few experiential insights:
First, talk about the transition. Just like a lot of habits, quitting cold turkey can he excruciatingly difficult. Outline the reasons why you can’t share a bed with your child anymore, and help them understand the need to sleep in their own beds. Once your child is old enough to have a conversation and actually understand what you’re saying, this will be a good time to share your plan.
Second, ease the transition. If your child is used to sneaking in and getting cozy with mom and during the night, it can be a major shock to suddenly have this ripped away. Don’t lock the door and force your kids to ‘learn’ their lesson. Get up, walk them back to their room, tuck them in and give them a kiss good night. Repeat until your little one is finally asleep.
Third, be ready for sleepless nights. At times, Joey still tries to sneak in and sleep in between us still comes up every couple of months. So, we take turns walking him back upstairs and tucking him into bed. Sure, at first, there was clamoring and stomping and tantrums – from us, as parents. But the extra effort was best for all of us. Our little guy can now handle the solitude of sleep. And that helps everyone have sweet dreams.
Finally, don’t fall off the bed-wagon. Raising two young kids – heck even one, let alone three, four…eight! – is exhausting. The last thing we want to do as parents is get woken up from a nice, deep sleep to have to escort our little ones back to bed. No matter what you do, don’t take this situation lying down, pun intended. Once you break the habit of co-sleeping as your children get older, everyone will feel more rested, while hopefully finding enough energy to get through another day.
I’m not taking a particular side on the co-sharing your bed with your children debate. Far too often we hear tragic stories of loss and injury to little ones who’s parents fell asleep while nursing, comforting, or simply resting with their babies. I’ve fallen asleep with my babies in my arms more times than I can remember, and thankfully, nothing bad ever happened (except the time I left my baby girl in her baby swing at 3am for the rest of the night – we both fell asleep, so that’s my justification – best night of sleep for us both, truth be told). I am taking this stand: use common sense when co-sharing your bed with your children. Just remember that they want to feel loved, they want to develop that bond, and they simply want to be close to you. And as parents, isn’t that all we can ask for?
So, I ask you…did you ever sleep with your babies? How old were they before you finally took a stand for sleep? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this debate.