I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in almost 6 years. I was never a good sleeper to start with, and then with the addition of children in my life, it’s all gone to hell. I’ve gotten embroiled in a new problem now though, it’s not simply that I have trouble sleeping, it’s that I’m apparently no longer allowed to sleep in my own bed.
My 2.5 year old has never really suffered from separation anxiety. In fact, when I drop her off at daycare in the morning, she runs off to play with her buddies, barely taking the time to kiss me goodbye! But somehow, once we are in the comfort of our own home, she is my little shadow. I must do everything for her. She doesn’t want Daddy doing anything. Do you know how difficult it is to cook dinner while carrying a 2 year old?
This has recently carried over into the night. She typically goes to bed fine at bedtime, although I am usually the only person who can tuck her in. Then at some point during the night, normally between midnight and 2am, she comes traipsing out of her room, blankie in hand, and comes into our bedroom. I have to take her back to bed, and for the past 2 months, I spend the rest of the night on a fold away mattress in her bedroom. I feel like I am back to the mind-numbing sleep dep days of having a newborn.
I have no idea why this started. She was sleeping through the night in her own room without any problems for about a year when this abruptly started happening. I have been told varying things, but for the most part I am advised to let her cry it out. There are a number of problems with this approach:
- Her bedroom shares a wall with her sister’s bedroom, and there’s one thing worse than having one little girl awake in the middle of the night….2 little girls. I don’t want to have to deal with her sister being awoken as well.
- I hear everything. I am the lightest sleeper in the world. If I leave her to cry it out, I will simply be lying in my own bed listening to her cry, so this does not help me get any more sleep either.
- I cannot physically listen to her cry for me and do nothing. I can’t imagine anything worse for her than calling out for me and feeling like I’ve abandoned her.
So, my plan is to simply keep on trucking. I can handle being sleep deprived, maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s a mom thing, but I seem to be able to function on a daily basis with very little sleep. Maybe my body has just gotten used to this as the new “normal.” What I can’t handle is losing the trust of my kids. I want her to know that I will be there for her, even if she just needs that little bit of reassurance during the night that mom’s beside her. I know she’ll eventually grow out of it, and go back to sleeping on her own. I hope it is sooner rather than later, but I’m quite sure that she’ll continue to have sleep problems if she feels alone.
I don’t see why people have a problem with this type of supportive parenting. Just because generations past were raised in a “tough love” environment and survived to tell the tale, doesn’t mean that we should perpetuate that kind of thinking. Sure, my parents spanked us, and yelled at us, and controlled us, and never let us have a voice – and I came out on the other side okay. I still know how all of that made me feel, and I cannot knowingly inflict that hurt on my girls. I will be as supportive as I can in my parenting choices, while helping them develop their own independence.
And I guess that starts with sleeping…