So… Co-sleeping. You may be on to something attachment parenting advocates. I think I agree with you. I can’t do it. But I think you may be right.
Yesterday while I stood outside B’s room as he was having the mother of all meltdowns, not because of having to sleep alone but because he wanted to do something his way and his way was taking too much time. So it had to be done for him and then the world ended. One part of me wanted to go into his room hug him and sleep in his bed. And another part of me didn’t want to give in to him because he had just been really rude so going in and giving him a hug seemed counter productive no?
M came up after hearing all the screaming and loudly said his name. He didn’t shout he just was very clearly talking in his ‘Baba’ voice saying that the screaming is unacceptable and he had to stop now. He stopped from the first time he heard his name and that was the end of it. And I got to go in and give him the cuddles I wanted to give him and do our usual night time routine but with much less enthusiasm than usual.
All that aside I have been thinking more and more lately that I am wrong in thinking that the children sleeping on their own is essential. We are inundated with books and TV shows and articles that say how important it is for children to sleep on their own in their own room. And many mothers (me included) feel a sense of pride that their children sleep on their own in their rooms from a young age. Keep in mind my young age is relative to Saudi children and that’s 2 or 3 years old. Some people look down their nose at you more and more if they know your child has someone sleeping in their room with them like it’s a bad thing when it was virtually unheard of to not have an adult sleeping in the same room with a child or not have more than one child in one room.
I truly feel that if B were sleeping with me in my bed he would be a happier boy. Maybe I am totally wrong I don’t know. But the whole meltdowns that happen I assume happen partly because he doesn’t want bedtime to end because he doesn’t want me to leave the room. Having said that I know for a fact I would be a miserable woman. I can’t do it. I don’t understand how mothers can without loosing it. Or I don’t have that much patience I don’t know. But wouldn’t it mean I would have to sleep at 7 pm? If not what happens if he wakes and doesn’t find me in bed? Wouldn’t he flip? I don’t get it. But I think it would make him happier. Would he be 12 and still wanting to sleep in my bed though?
I was talking to our Filipino nanny who is caring for my baby K about when is a good time to get him used to sleeping on his own. She looked horrified at the thought and said “I slept in my mothers room till I was 12! All my siblings did as well!”. (She comes from a family of doctors and nurses btw). It’s a cultural thing. I don’t plan for K to sleep in a room with a nanny till he’s 12 but I don’t think it’s a big bad thing for right now.
It is also a cultural thing as far as I can see, for us as well. My Grandmother thought it was insane to expect a 2 or 3 year old to sleep in their room alone let alone a new born. People were always used to sleeping together or in very close proximity to each other.
Why am I thinking about this now on child number 4? When the 32 older children are sleeping in their own rooms without anyone else with them? Well because I decided not to bury myself under the pressure of feeling like I have to rush the process of my youngest to start sleeping alone. None of my other children did till they were older so why feel bad? And why put myself under that pressure? So what if they have someone in the room with them for a few years of their lives.
Here is how it went with my older kids and their sleeping arrangements:
S and J never slept alone at all till S was 5 and J was 2 and we moved to London. While we were there the help I had up and left. The I got a british nanny who had no intention of sleeping in the room with any of the kids so I put them in a room together where they remained almost totally until we moved into the new house. With some stints of sleeping in separate rooms before this period which were relatively easy.
When they first slept together without a grown up in the room S was totally fine with it but J would wake up to check who was in the room with her for a while after. And she would then settle back to sleep. I know it was an anxiety issue but I think that stemmed more from her nanny leaving suddenly rather than her not having a grown up in the room.
When B was born he had a baby nurse as well and she stayed for 2 years also sharing his room. Then she left during the summer and when we came home we put him in his own room and it just worked! (up untill last week that is when he started protesting to being in his room, and on his own). As for Special K he is in a room with his nanny, just as the others were. So 3 sleeping on their own and one with a nanny. Not bad.
The plan is after the summer for K to move in with B. Now you may say we are regressing but S and J are so much closer now because of that time spent together and I think it will do B and K good to also spend a few years together.
Now this post may add to your thoughts that having nannies here make a mother more distant than not having one. And you may even think why am I ok with them sleeping with someone who is not their relative as opposed to sleeping with me in my room. We can discuss all these things if you are interested please do ask in the comments but I feel I have explained this before here and here. The fact of the matter is almost everyone I know grew up sleeping with someone in their room. Be it their mother, sibling, nanny who ever, this is the way we grew up. So why do I feel such pressure to get my children to sleep on their own?
Also, seeing how much of an issue it is to get the child used to being on his or her own makes me think maybe we’re not supposed to be doing this? I know a few people who have put their children in their own rooms for the day they came back from the hospital. Their children go to sleep easier than mine do. They have less bedtime issues I know this. But my children weren’t those children and maybe if they were they and I would have an easier life but is it really the end of the world that they’re not?
Yes I know some of you out there are tut tutting and don’t understand why I am doing the same thing with my youngest that I did with my eldest. I don’t know… maybe I am getting old and don’t have the energy anymore. Or maybe I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to not want to be alone at night. So I look forward to Baby K graduating into B’s room and have the next few years together. Winding each other up and fighting and laughing and being mischievous. I’m so excited about it in fact I can’t wait. I plan to start this summer because if we travel they will have no choice but to be in the same room where ever we go. I shared a room with my sisters until our eldest moved to London! I was so happy to get my own room but still, having someone in my room made me feel safe.
flash back to conversation I had with 2 of my sisters blaming not being used to sleeping on their own on their current sleep issues (being afraid of the dark, checking under beds, not being able to sleep when they can’t see the door). But that are only 2 of my sisters the rest of us are fine… I think!
Your thoughts? Did you share a room? Did you like it? Do you co-sleep? If you don’t have children are you planning to? For how long? Am I insane for putting K in B’s room after B got used to sleeping alone?