Up until the age of one, my daughter refused to sleep by herself! She was so young and little, we just became accustomed to the fact our night time rest would be disturbed and accepted it would get better when she was ready. It became a way of life that we just went along with, often believing our patience couldn’t last when we fancied a bit of alone time and a crying baby would often put a stop to it. We always found humour with it though, as the second she was placed between us, she would close her eyes, smile coyly and drift off for the rest of the night in a wonderful cosy sleep, probably feeling pretty safe and smug. We didn’t mind really. Getting to squish her baby leg rolls in the night was a pretty good consolation prize. (We all enjoy baby rolls, don’t deny it.)
Above: Who wouldn’t enjoy waking up to this?!
Then suddenly, when she was around 14 months, is stopped. She wanted to sleep in her cot and there were no more tears at bedtime, no more midnight wake up calls. We found ourselves for weeks after it started keeping on checking in on her, making sure she was still breathing, as we couldn’t get used to the quietness. We actually started to miss having her with us on a night.
People will often tell you that these things are just stages and the child will grow out of it naturally when they are ready, but I don’t for one second think that most of us believe it will actually happen that way. So when my daughter suddenly was very contented in her own cot, eventually also being happy in her own big girls bed approaching 2, we couldn’t have been happier for her. Of course, for me as her mother, there was that secret hidden element where I also felt a little bit like she didn’t need me anymore and was getting her comfort elsewhere. That will always be there I now know, whatever new milestone she reaches. But I had a partner at the time, so no baby in the middle of us in bed was very much welcomed and it was nice to have time for each other again.
Then, as some of you know, our world was turned upside down when my partner left me for another girl, leaving me and our daughter confused and insecure.
From the day he left, my daughter has refused to sleep in her own room, never mind in her own bed. The first few months were really needed for us both. We drew comfort and security from each other, her still only 2 at the time and having been used to feeling secure since birth knowing daddy was in the next room, I can’t imagine the insecurities she must have felt at watching him go. Break ups are so confusing on the children and unfortunately, some people never do consider the children when they run onto the next greener horizon they think is awaiting them.
Above: Innocent little lives. So peaceful with what they know and are familiar with x
In terms of myself, I no longer had someone to hold me and make me feel safe at night. When you have spent 8 years with someone who cuddled you to sleep every night, it’s a real shock to the system to have an empty cold half of the bed. So having my daughter with me, at night, really pulled us through together. She wanted to know that I was there at all times and that I wouldn’t leave her also. I do believe she also wanted to protect me. She had seen first hand, unfortunately, my devastation at what was happening, and the day he got into the van packed with his things and went, we sat on the hall stairs, where she cuddled me, wiped away my tears and said “We are together now mom.” At only 2, she was looking after me. And I needed it. And she knew I did.
These days, I never for one minute doubt a child’s intelligence. Some people say they are only 2 or 3, they don’t know what they’re saying, or they wont remember anything. Of course they will. They are like sponges.
This was a year ago. Its been a rollercoaster ride getting to this point. Some days are good. Other days not so good. We have fun together though. Since that time, I have tried to get my daughter to want to sleep in her own room, investing in a new bed for her and even redecorating it in her choice of colours. We have managed a few nights where she begrudgingly goes to sleep in there, but I always awake to the sound of little footprints running back into my room in the middle of the night, getting in, smiling, turning over and falling into a lovely peaceful sleep next to me. Sound familiar?
Above: Team work x
A few people have warned me off allowing this. They have said the child will become too dependent on me. That she will never sleep in her own bed if I don’t push her to now.
I think, this time, I am going to listen to my own instinct.
It is doing her more good than harm having that comfort from me. She sleeps rights through the night (7pm until 7am on a good night.) It has been a year but not a straight forward one. Try telling a 3 year old when its time to stop missing her daddy being there when she needs a cuddle. It doesn’t happen. They are natural creatures at that age, going from one moment to the next entirely on how they feel in that moment. If it brings her comfort to know im not going to walk out on her and im next to her, whilst she’s still young, I am all for it.
She wakes up rested, rejuvenated and happy right now. I have attempted a few times in her room and most of the night has been spent disturbed, crying or generally restless. She is then a misery the next day for lack of sleep which makes things twice as hard.
At three and a half, she is already getting embarrassed about me giving her a kiss on the cheek when I drop her into pre-school. This morning, she wiped it off with her hand and gave it back to me! It gives me hope that children follow their natural needs and that she wont always be hogging my bed. She has grown up so much in the last few months, she is different to how she was even 3 months ago. They are constantly evolving and growing, something I don’t think they are given enough credit for when they are often labelled as spoilt or naughty.
I do believe that they will tell you what they need in their own time. Dont misplace my meaning, I do believe kids need structure and routine, which she has. They also need boundaries. Treats should be treats and not expected everyday, they should understand that hard work is the way to earn things they want and not just be handed it, and so on.
However, at the moment, with the sleeping, I don’t see it’s doing her any harm. I am pretty certain that pushing her away before she is ready would actually do more harm than good. I’m also pretty certain that in not so long from now she will be feeling even more grown up and will eventually leave the safety of my bed and want her own. That is a given, it will happen. And I will miss these baby years where she was completely devoted to me and wanted nothing in return other than love. Why shouldnt I enjoy this special time? Maybe if I had a partner I might feel differently, but I don’t. That’s my point, no one can say it’s wrong because each situation is different for each person’s individual life path.
Also, whilst I am not sharing my bed with anyone else, it’s of no great rush to me either. I like knowing she’s there too.
Co sleeping shouldnt be mislabeled as inappropriate or wrong. It also shouldnt be confused with co dependency. I am all for her being in her own bed and when she is it will be a relief not to be kicked in the face in the night. I’m just not going to bully her into getting there before she needs to. x