Sleep – Back to basics

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Yes, another post about sleep…

When we brought our babies home from the hospital, they slept in our room with us, next to our beds, because it was easier for me to feed them, when they were close by, and also because of the current recomendations on safe sleep, and to be honest, I wanted my babies close to me, and they slept better near us.

With all of Little Man’s sleep issues, some of which have resolved, we have have tried many techniques and things that have been suggested to us and some of them have worked and some have not.

He has been in his own room, or sharing with his sister, for the past three years, and whilst he went from a cot to a bed with little protest, as you will know, if you have read this blog, sleep and good sleep habits have been thin on the ground. So we have made a decision to try and help him sleep better, feel happier going to sleep, more able to settle himself if he wakes and to keep bedtime calm and happy.

We have gone back to basics, and so far, so good.

We have moved him back into our room, officially. He has been unofficially coming into our bed, most nights, for a long time, and frankly, I hate it. I love my son, but he is the most unsociable and un sleep inducing person I know, apart from me. He hates covers so kicks them off, meaning I get cold (and I like my covers, so no, I won’t wear extra clothes) he likes to sleep attached to one of us, touching us, which LSH doesn’t seem to mind, but I don’t like, because I prefer not to be touched, when asleep, and he gets very sweaty and is very mobile, which isn’t that endearing at 3am. When he clambers into our bed, he likes to gently pat my face, and wake me, to inform me of his arrival, which is very sweet, but as he then falls fast asleep, nestled into me, I am wide awake, and a bit grumpy about it and it takes me a long time, to fall back to sleep, or I don’t, and am awake for the rest of the night. (My sleep is also messed up, we are working on that too)

I resisted this change for a long while. I think it has been drummed into my head, by many different sources that by aged 4, a child should be in it’s own room, sleeping well, sleeping alone and not need it’s parents at all at night, unless unwell. Of course, this is the case for many children, and I am NOT criticising anyone on this, but we have come to realise that our little boy is just not going to fit into a mould when it comes to sleep, and that whilst to some it may seem like starting a bad habit, by having him back in our room, at this age, in fact we are trying to accommodate his needs, in order to get us all sleeping better. He is still little, and I, particularly am not prepared to walk the road of “tough love” and have him screaming the house down each night, in extreme distress, waking his sister and disturbing our neighbours too. Maybe we could enforce Super Nanny style regimes, “make” him stay in his bed, deal with hours of crying, to the point where he vomits and I am exhausted for nights on end, but to be honest, whilst I have had moments of “this child needs to grow up and just sleep on his own, I am OVER this”, I genuinely think that by gently allowing him to sleep where he feels comfortable, and sleeps all night, then slowly working on moving him back to his own room, when he is more ready, is going to work.

He sleeps better next to me, on his mattress. He has his own space, I have mine, but I can comfort him if needed. He is only 4, still little in many ways, and at some point he will want to sleep alone.

Yes, it means we don’t have our room to ourselves, but we can handle that, for what we think will be a short term, in order to get him sleeping better, and ourselves more sleep.

It’s not a cultural norm, in the West, or certainly in the UK, to have your children sleeping in your room past infancy, I know many people would be horrified. But in other cultures and countries children do sleep in their parents rooms beyond the breastfeeding/needing to be fed in the night years, and it is not seen as unusual. Part of me had to fight the “he should be in his own room” thing, hard, to allow us to do this, but I have accepted it, now, and as we all get better sleep, it makes sense.

I am pretty sure he won’t want to be with his Mummy at night forever, this is just a stage, part of the adventure in parenting we are trying to get right. If it works, and we crack the sleep thing, then it can’t be a bad thing. Only time will tell!

You can see that the cats like the new arrangement too…

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