He has slept in our bed since he was a toddler and now it is a real challenge to get him out of ours and into his it is also upstairs.
Many parents opt to have children sleeping in their bed by choice. That being said, some parents value the family bed and are willing to sacrifice their independence to make it happen. If you are not in that camp, though, and find yourself with an unwelcomed guest in your bed more often than not, it may be time to make the change.
Many experts suggest that the key to establishing bedtime routine is to set out expectations and then to maintain consistency. I know from experience that children can become easily dis-regulated with their night-time habits, and that small changes in our routines a sick child or a nightmare leading a child to sleep in our room, for example have led to several nights of frustration as we re-establish the rules. If your child has never slept independently, this task will be even more difficult.
In fact, it will get worse before it gets better. So, before moving ahead, I would encourage you to be sure that you feel strongly enough about having that bed to yourself to go through the rough patch that will be inherent in changing the routine. Remember, what probably brought you to this point is that in the middle of the night, when you are tired and groggy, it is easy to follow the path of least resistance.
When you are exhausted, the easiest thing to do is to throw back the covers and let your little one in. This is why it is important to talk about your plan in the light of day.
Another toddler travel bed option is a collapsible travel cot, like the Regalo My Cot. Just ask many Japanese families.
Make sure you have your spouse on board, and make your commitments when you are logical, instead of tired and emotional. Decide on an action plan, and then carry out your commitments at night. Talk to your children frequently during the day about what your expectations are.
If you relent when the crying amps up, this teaches that crying loud enough or long enough will earn their place back in your bed.
But stick to your plan at night, and use the next day to evaluate your strategy. In the case of a child still sleeping in your bed, I would recommend a two-step process: I would love to offer a flow-chart here that would explain how to do this in a way that will be painless for your child, but the reality is that it may be anxiety-producing.
I do have a few tips for reducing the anxiety: Make sure your child understands your new expectations well before bedtime. Do not use the middle of the night as a time for negotiating. Set out your expectations well in advance.
Do not downplay how hard this might be. You can offer empathy while maintaining your boundaries. Think of things that can offer comfort during the transition: Make sure to provide extra comfort, affection, and attention during the day.
Offer a time of cuddling on the sofa and maybe even a little more time in the evening to fill up their need for affection. Use a chart and offer rewards. Determine the right time to start. Are there other transitions going on? Whatever you decided to do, develop the strategy that is right for your family, and then stick to it. The one area where experts agree is that waffling only leads to more issues.
So, be prepared for a bumpy ride, but keep your eyes on the prize: Do you allow your kids to sleep in your bed? Do you like having them there, or is it by default?
Have you had success in transitioning a child to their own bed? How did you do it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Kristen lives in Costa Mesa, where she spends her days strategizing how to keep her family of six happy, healthy, and chaos-free.
She is rarely successful on that last one, but she is enjoying the journey. Here, she shares her best parenting hacks and invites readers for their input into common parenting concerns. If you have a parenting question for Kristen, email her at ocmoms ocregister. More on family and parenting: You can also sign up for the weekly OC Moms newsletter. Get the latest news delivered daily!
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