I cannot give you an exact date, but I know it was around the time that my son had just turned two. It was the same time that we gave his crib to his six month old sister and moved him into his own “big boy bed”. The first time it happened, it was such a surprise to my husband and me. We thought surely something must be wrong. Was he was scared or not feeling well? Perhaps it was those pesky two year molars causing pain? It certainly had nothing to do with my second time mom’s guilt or that I had just given his bed away to his new sibling. So there he was, in the middle of the night, standing at the side of our bed, his angelic little face peeking up, asking to climb in with us. “Of course you can. Snuggle on in the middle, just for tonight.” Back to sleep we went. The three of us cozied together, just that one time. Now Groundhog Day that scenario nearly every night for roughly seven years. You read that correctly, seven years.
I’d like to back track a little and say that at the time my son started habitually waking every night and climbing into my bed, I had not been trained as a professional sleep consultant. If I knew then, what I know now, would I have done things differently? Absolutely. For starters, I never would have transitioned him out of his crib at two years old. Unless maybe he was climbing out on his own, which he was not. I would have waited until he was at least three years old or older, and acquired another crib for my second child. The first night he appeared in my room, I would have returned him to his own bed to avoid creating a nightly habit. If that hadn’t worked, I might have put a gate in his doorway and followed up with random positive reinforcement in the morning. I look back at the above scenario and I can see exactly why and how it started, in addition to why and how it never stopped. But as my mother in law says, “when you know better, you do better.”
By no doing of my own, appearances from our nightly visitor eventually lessened. He now sleeps in his own bed, all night, every night. While I was not practicing as a sleep consultant when this all began, I certainly had the knowledge and training to make a change long before now. So why, you ask, as a professional sleep consultant, did I let this go on? The answer plain and simple, is that for our family, it was not a problem.
Of course, I would get the occasional snarky comment from a family member or friend, “I can’t believe he’s still coming into your bed, don’t you do this for a living?” I feel lucky knowing all that I do about sleep and child development. If our family’s sleeping arrangements ever became a problem for both me and my husband or for our son, I would know how to make changes. To feel empowered as a parent is to not only have the tools, but to know how and when to use them. Remember, if it’s not a problem for your family, then it’s not a problem at all. And make sure not to let anyone convince you otherwise….
Kristen relies on her many years of experience, as well as her education and background, to create individualized sleep or specified parenting support for every family she works with. She enjoys living in a small town north of Boston with her husband, son and daughter.
Joanna is an educator, holistic health counselor and mother of two young children. She has 15 years of teaching experience with children from infancy to 18 yrs of age, focusing the last 4 years consulting schools and young families.
Early Parenting Partners have joined forces with Hello Mamas as an Influencer. Find advice on sleeping and healthy living! If you are interested in becoming an influencer please contact us! Join our community today to meet moms near you!