The Bedtime Monster and the Solution

Why is bedtime always a challenge when dealing with our children? It doesn’t matter if they are infants, toddlers or school aged kids – they all protest bedtime. Well maybe not all children, but most children at some point in time do struggle with bedtime in one way or another.
Our little babies have a hard time sleeping without us next to them. When they are a bit older, they wake screaming and crying and can not tell us if they are afraid, unlike toddlers and school aged kids who will tell us of the monster in their room. They make excuse after excuse to prolong the bedtime routine or they come up with creative ideas to get up out of bed after they have been tucked in for the night.
Why?
After four kids and being a parent for over 14 years, I never really did question why this happens.
My oldest Austin, who is 14 years old now, had a very hard time sleeping alone when he was young. I co-slept with him until he was about 7 months old and then weaned him into his crib. It was still a struggle for him (and me) though. I had to sing a hundred songs while we sat in his glider in the dark. We snuggled for close to an hour before he fell asleep in my arms and only then I could lay him down.
When he was 14 months old, his little sister was born. I co-slept with her also for the beginning months. She was a bit different though. When she got close to the one year old mark, she became a fantastic sleeper! She loved going to sleep in her crib and would sleep all night long. At that point, we moved Austin into a regular bed. He was approximately 2 years old and we still had issues putting him to bed. Our routine was to put his sister, Emma, to bed (which was easy) and about 30 minutes later, him and I would crawl into his bed and fall asleep. After a while, I would wake up and leave. Sure enough, Austin would end up in my bed half way through the night.
Why?
I had no idea.
This was not the end of it either… Austin had issues going to sleep by himself until he was about 7 years old. He would start out in his bed, but end up in mine.
His brilliant excuses?
  • “I have to go to the bathroom”
  • “I need a drink”
  • “I am scared”
  • “I need to tell you something” (500 times)
  • “We forgot to pray for…(insert man in the moon here)”
  • “My tummy hurts”
  • “I can’t find Blue” (yes, he slept with Blue until he was 12 years old)
My older two napped in my bed… with me in the middle until they fell asleep: Austin & Emma 2001
Why?
Today I read something online that made me understand the question of why we have these bedtime struggles with our little one’s.
In all cultures – except the Western and Westernized cultures – young babies and children sleep with their parents. They either share a bed or they just sleep in the same room. We are the only people in the world who make our kids go to bed, alone in the dark, without the comfort of having us near them.
How sad is that?!? When I think about it, I get so sad. I wish I could start over and let my kids (Austin especially) sleep with me past the age he did. Why did I kick him out of my room so quickly? How cold hearted of me! I just feel awful. He really hated sleeping in the dark, all alone.Austin 19992002 - Austin, Emma & Becca
This also makes me think of my Gracie. She is 2.5 years old and her crib is still in our room. She is happy. She co-slept with us until she was about 7 months old, and then we weaned her into the crib. Even the weaning period took adjustment. She would fall asleep nursing and then I would place her in the crib. Half way through the night she would wake and come in bed with us. This took a couple of months and since then, she has been well adjusted and loves sleeping in her crib (in our room, of course).Gracie 10/2011
I just can not imagine why it took me birthing 4 kids and over 14 years of parenting to realize how mean and un-natural it is to make your kids sleep alone in a dark room. I loved co-sleeping. But I was always told that I was “spoiling” my kids by letting them sleep with me in bed. I didn’t like being told that. So I just assumed that they had to be weaned out. Out of our bed and into their own. And at a ‘certain age’ – they had to sleep in their own room and in their own bed. Even if they were alone in the dark.Austin Emma Becca 2002
I would not have minded them staying with me in my room for a few years. I wish I didn’t listen to ‘them’.Austin Emma Becca 2002
Lord…
Can I have a “Do-Over”?!? I want my babies back!
Do you have a bedtime struggle?
How do you handle it?
Do you co-sleep or do your kids sleep alone?

Comments

  1. We didn’t co-sleep with Monkey Girl except when she was sick or on special occasions like when her daddy was out of town. She used to be amazing at it, but the past few weeks at some point (either when I put her down or later in the night/early morning) she will wake and want to go to momma’s bed. I am not sure why. She has never slept in the complete dark. In fact, she just got a fish tank with a cool night light… maybe that is the problem, maybe it is teething, idk. I wish she could tell me!

  2. I relate to this post so much! My son slept alone in his crib till he was about 9 months old and he got sick…I couldn’t bear leaving him in his crib while he was sick so naturally, we brought him to the bed with us. And it stayed that way until now…he’ll be 3 in a few months. I swore up and down that I would never co-sleep with my child, even before I was pregnant, but it’s a different story when they’re in bed with you and wanting to cuddle. Sometimes I wish that I would’ve handled it differently and forced him to sleep on his own in his own bed, but I can’t change that now. We are working on getting him his own bed so hopefully it’ll work out fine. I don’t like the idea of him sleeping in his own room in the dark either.

  3. My firstborn slept literally on my chest for his first 4months then in the cot(crib) next to our bed until he was 12mths+ We moved him because daddy’s snoring was waking him up!! the other 4 children all stayed in our room until they were around 12-18mths except the youngest, she didn’t leave our room until she was over 2, but that was because she was still BF at night. Their Dad started a new job last year, which has him away from home 4 weeks out of 5, which meant it was a free for all for all the children to come in and out as they liked the youngest 2 regularly end up in with me while daddy is at work. but now they co-sleep together (4 and 2 yo) the elder 3 have their own rooms and normally slide into my bed for a morning cuddle – but only when daddy is at work, as daddy is not a fan of bed sharing…except with mummy ;p

  4. Every night and nap times I have to “sleep” in my sons room til he falls asleep and then I go into my own bed. But he will NOT go to sleep without me being their.

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