Go ahead and gasp. My 5 year old has not slept alone in her bed pretty much ever. She has an older sister who has always done better alone in her bed in her own room. But even as a baby, at peak desperation, my now 5 year old could not be won over by “crying it out” (controversial conversation for another day). Thinking I could transition her a few months later, I tried in vain to put her in her crib. I would pat, rock, and shooshhhh my way to crazy to get her in her crib.
And gosh darnit, wouldn’t you know the moment my hand was no longer on her back, she would pop her little baby head up and cry for me.
Exhausted, I would take her back to our marital bed. I eventually just pulled the crib mattress to the floor at the foot of our bed. I would have to pat her back and sit with her until she fell asleep, but at least she would fall asleep. For a while. And then at some point in the middle of the night, she would climb into our bed. She was cute and cuddly and we were on the brink of a divorce (let’s be honest), so we really didn’t mind.
When I moved out for our separation, I lived in a one bedroom condo, and she continued to sleep with me in my bed. This time, with my older one on an air mattress on the floor.
It was like a slumber party, and the “camping out” vibe aligned with the “omg I’m getting a divorce and really don’t know what I am doing” energy happening.
With my absence back at the other home, she returned full time residency on what used to be “my side of the bed” with her dad. I use quotes because I don’t have one of those anymore. I have my own bed all to myself and sleep on different sides to help ensure even wear of the mattress. But I digress.
A year later, I settled into a new 3 bedroom house with all new bedroom sets for each child. My older child happily fell asleep in her new princess loft bed, complete with a slide. Now 4 years old with her new bed in her room, my little bedmate needed me to lay with her every night to go sleep. And in the middle of the night, she would make her way into my bed. This went on for a while. I figured she had been through a lot with the divorce and cut us both some slack. About six months in the new home, in anticipation of my boyfriend at the time staying over for the first time in the house with the girls, much to her dismay and grudgingly willingness, she slept in her own bed that night. And only that night. He didn’t stay over again and soon after, the relationship ended. At this point, I was glad to have the company and gave up even trying. That was over a year ago.
In the last month, she started sleeping with her big sister which I thought was sweet and perhaps a good transition.
It may have been cute, but big sister was not getting as much sleep as she needed, and one night when I put my foot down and said she needed to go into her own bed … she didn’t resist. It is important to note, her level of resistance is quantum, and frankly I only have so much stamina. And I’m a pretty tough cookie. This time however, she agreed that maybe she should sleep in her own bed. This was a few weeks ago, and she has been so glad and ready for her bed every night. I don’t know what did it.
If you thought the secret sauce would be included, whoops! I put my foot down, draw a firm line, and implement boundaries the best I can. Getting her into her own bed seemed liked a losing battle. Where children sleep is a huge topic in parenting. Lot’s of opinions. Lot’s of “well if that were me …” And maybe I misstepped a ton along the way. But y’all. She is in her bed now and everyone is getting terrific sleep once again!