I was never the clingy mom. When my kids were little, I always say I can’t wait for them to grow up (although I take that back now. Haha!) Nonetheless, they slept in our room, but in separate beds, until they started preschool. When my eldest daughter started school, we decided to let them sleep in their own room BUT we stayed with them first. Their fear of darkness and “monsters” were legitimate excuses to still sleep with them, yes?
Eventually, when we transferred them to big school, it also meant a transition from being a child to little ladies. Slowly, we let our kids sleep on their own. Fine, there were days when I have to wait for them to fall asleep and the occasional room transfers. As the months go by, they learned to be independent.
I understand that co-sleeping has benefits. It fosters closeness plus my youngest daughter loves to be cuddled. Still, my husband and I agreed that this set-up won’t work, especially now that the kids are growing up.
So why did we insist on our kids sleeping in their own room?
For starters, they’re getting older. As a mom, it’s understandable that we want to keep our kids close to us, regardless of how old they are. There’s always that urge to check on them and make sure that they’re okay. Still, it is also our job as parents to ensure that they will become independent individuals and training them to sleep alone is one of the many ways we can teach them. They need to know and understand that they can do well on their own and manage their fears.
Second, we, parents, need to rest, too. My youngest often takes up a huge chunk in the bed, which disrupts my sleep, particularly. As much as I love my kids, mommy needs to rest, too, yes? While we can run on coffee as fuel, nothing beats getting a good, uninterrupted shut-eye.
Third, parents gotta do what parents gotta do, if you know what I mean. Mornings are hectic and the husband and I are usually doing our own thing the entire day. Nighttime is the time when we can just have wine, talk, or catch up with movies. It may seem simple but these simple acts are helpful in making sure that we’re still close and connected. Can you imagine doing those things with your kids sharing the bed?
Lastly, experts note that co-sleeping with older kids may impair developmental milestones. Co-sleeping encourages dependence, which means we might be overindulging our kids instead of helping them face their fears. Unconsciously, we may be teaching our kids to be less self-reliant because as simple as sleeping alone is something they cannot do – and we don’t want that (1).
How can we help our kids sleep by themselves?
Keeping the kids out of OUR bedroom wasn’t easy, especially for my youngest. Still, we need to set boundaries. Although the change in their sleeping environment didn’t happen overnight, here’s what we did to make them more at ease sleeping by themselves:
- We didn’t leave them instantly. We started with sleeping with them in their room for the first two or three days. Eventually, we told them that mommy can no longer sleep with them BUT I will wait for them to fall asleep. Then, we had “trial nights” wherein they’ll sleep by themselves. I’m usually at the family area so when the kids get up to check on me, they know I’m there. The point is to take it slow and pace it properly. Leaving them on Day One might be difficult or traumatizing for them, so they need assurance first and slowly, they’ll be more at ease.
- A regular sleeping routine is a must. After dinner, I let the kids settle first and allow them to do their thing. Sometimes, they’ll do quick reviews for their tests the following day. We have a designated bed time as well, which means once the clock strike at 9:00pm (they wake up at 6:30am to 7:00am), they have to go to their room. Reading a story is still part of our routine and as soon as we’re done with the story, I leave the room. It is important for kids to have a sleeping routine so that they’ll be able to prepare themselves and help them fall asleep easily.
- Lamp is in. This is for my girls who refuse to deal with total darkness.
- Cheat days are okay. Yes, we let our kids crash in our room from time-to-time, especially now that we need to save on electricity. Still, this will depend on the kids’ mood, though.
I understand the urge to be around our kids most of the time. But as a parent, we need to remember that they will grow up and it is our responsibility to make sure that they will be independent, capable, and self-reliant. Plus, they need their own space, too.
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Ayi is a stay-at-home mom of two. When her kids are in their best state, she keeps up with chores, work, and ensuring that her sanity is intact. Join her as she navigates through this rollercoaster ride called motherhood.
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