When your kids are young, the convenience and security of the family bed can easily outweigh the negatives. But eventually, the time does come when every child needs their own bed — and every parent is wishing for theirs. Although, the looming question remains, how old is too old? When should you enforce these new sleeping patterns, especially if it seems like your child would comfortably stay there well into their teens? If this is something you’re currently struggling with, I’ve pulled together some words of wisdom from the experts.
Good luck. I’ll be having an afternoon exhaustion nap on the couch.
Both sleep consultants and parents who’ve been there say that once you decide to start this sleep training, bed sharing needs to end entirely. No “Well, just for five minutes” or “Maybe tonight because she had a long day.” That means midnight visitors get walked back to their rooms, tucked in, kissed and left behind. No extra snuggles, no drinks of water, as many times as it takes. There will be screams and sobs, and kids so resistant you’ll have to carry them, wriggling and screaming all the way, to their beds. Which they will jump out of in a split second. You will start to wonder if you will ever sleep again. You will; just maybe not tonight. Keep this up until the new rules sink in.
Host a sleepover. Chances are your child(ren) won’t want their friends knowing they still sleeps with their mom. Peer pressure is a strong force, and it’s going to bite you on the ass later when your kids want every gadget Apple pumps out of China, $200 running shoes and tickets to One Direction concerts. Peer pressure OWES you. Sure, sleepovers mean you’ll have extra kids in your house, but as long as they flush the toilet and don’t tell anyone how often you say “shit” in an evening, then who gives a shit? At least you’ll be getting some sleep in your own bed.
Wear that kid out. Sometimes a simple trip to the playground will be enough exercise for a child. If your son or daughter is particularly high-spirited, you may need to go beyond that. Does your roof need to be re-shingled?
Start the bedtime routine early. Most children dislike abrupt transitions, so try to make “awake to sleep” times seamless. I like to give my children ample warning when bedtime is approaching. When you send them more to school in the morning, say something like, “Have a great day! It’s bedtime in 9 hours!”
Prizes are also generally welcomed by little kids. You could let your child pick a small “sleep treat” from a grab bag in the morning or leave one their pillow.
Are you currently going through this? Or have and have some savvy advice for our moms? Let us know!