We talk a lot about sleep and bed time routines for our babies. There are books and blogs with several methods on how to do so. They range from the cry it out method to the no tears method (is their such a thing?) and the pick up put down method. Usually our family members have a few suggestions on what works. Of course there’s always that one friend who says their 10 month old can read a book, tuck themselves in and fall asleep all alone. Okay full disclosure, joking about the book, but that pretty much seems as far fetched as the rest of it. But what happens when the sleep struggles aren’t for our infants or toddlers?
My soon to be 4 1/2 year old preschooler wants one of his parents to lay with him every night until he falls asleep. The books and blogs seem to dwindle down on methods at this age. A couple nights ago I was getting my kids ready for bed and I was frustrated.
I was frustrated that my husband works more nights than he is here to help with bedtime. Frustrated that my almost 18 month old daughter refuses to fall asleep in the baby carrier, so I can stay in my sons room. Frustrated that my four year old still needed me in the room at all to fall asleep. I was frustrated that I had been with my kids for the past 13 hours. But, they still weren’t sick of me enough to just GO TO SLEEP. So that night I told my son, “you need to go to sleep alone tonight.”
Victory…Not so Fast
The bedtime routines were done: bath, books, brushing teeth. We snuggled and kissed. He was tucked in with Snoozy Hokomoto (his teddy bear nighttime buddy. All he had to do was close his eyes. Bing bang boom, closed the door and done. Now I was off to put my daughter to sleep and call it a night. Normally, she is the one that gives me the hardest time with sleep but that night she nursed, rolled over and fell to sleep. I was amazed and finally felt like a parental champion. That was until I saw that 3 ft 2 inch shadow standing in my bedroom doorway.
I calmly walked my son back to his bed. I explained again tonight would be a little different but everything would be ok. During the next two hours he begged me not to leave. He cried and asked for a picture of me he could sleep with. It broke my hear. My son is a sweet boy. So I knew he meant every word.
Am I Alone?
I stuck to it that night but I found myself reaching out to mom friends with kids the same age. I was surprised to find out the majority of them, 8 out of 10, still stayed in the room or laid down with their four year olds. In that evening, I felt like I was being pulled at in all directions and something had to give. I convinced myself other moms don’t lay with their four year olds. I thought this would be the solution to our bedtime problems. But, it wasn’t.
Most nights it is a smooth process including time to lay down with him. I explained to him that on those nights that I’m by myself sometimes I feel overwhelmed. Sometimes he is cooperative and sometimes it ends in tears but we are all trying our best. I just wanted to share this cry it out method experience with my four year old to other moms. Whether your four, five or six year old wants you to stay awhile at bedtime or doesn’t; either way I wanted to acknowledge there can be sleep struggles continued past the much talked about baby ages. I’m not here to say which is best or give any advice. I just wanted to share my part of the struggle.