How, for heaven’s sake, did I find myself fighting over sleeping space with our dog, folded like a magician’s assistant inside a slice box, in a 5-foot toddler bed at 2am?As we go through the “coming to daddies bed” phase every night, I struggle endlessly for my basic human right to sleep… somewhere for the night. As we go through the “coming to daddies bed” phase every night, I struggle endlessly for my basic human right to sleep… somewhere for the night.
I remember that when the twins were about 3-months old my late aunt’s (I miss you Rachel!) friend came to visit us from Israel and warned me about letting the kids into our bed. “If you let them in once,” she scared me, “it’ll quickly become a nightly habit that you won’t be able to end.”
A few months later I came across a column by Einat Natan, Israeli parenting advisor/guru. She wrote about children’s habits of coming to parents’ beds in the middle of the night. In her opinion, it’s just a phase. I couldn’t find the exact column to quote from it, but what she said there resonated with me. The idea is that back in the day families slept together in the same room. You can see that baby animals sleep close-to-touch with their parents. Somehow, through evolution, we came to expect (or maybe just desire) that if we put our little chicks in a separate room and left, they’d feel safe and just sleep through night right where they are. That just doesn’t make any sense.
It started when Adam was a little over a year old; he figured out how to climb out of his crib and he ran over to join us in our bed. At the beginning it was easy, and happened once a night, every other night. But when they turned two we got them toddler beds which made it a lot easier for both of them to pop out of bed and feel free to travel around the house at nighttime.
Here’s how a really crazy traffic night looks for me now: I start in our bed with my dear, snoring husband. Adam is usually the first one to come. He joins us and our dog Koobeh in bed and most likely ends up kicking me out.
I move to the living room couch, followed by Koobeh, and then, soon enough, I’m joined by Ben, who will come over, maybe want me to serve him a drink or a toy, and once he falls back to sleep, stretches out on the couch and swings around like a damned grandfather clock. I give up and move to one of their 65-inch-long toddler beds with nice Ikea wooden barriers (for extra comfort).
Here’s the thing: I truly believe that it’s a phase. I don’t recall hearing stories of 13-year-olds who come to sleep in their parents’ beds. They actually want the opposite. I’m not suggesting that it will last for another decade—in fact, I have no idea how long will it last, but I do understand the sense of security that my presence brings them. And as they grow up rapidly and things keep changing around them (potty training, for example), there’s one thing that is stable: Abba and Daddy’s availability for them. And for the sake of my kids’ security, yes—I will teach myself to fold like a magician’s assistant waiting for her cue to pop out of the tiny box with a smile and hands spread out to the sides. Ta-Dah!
I recently found an alternative solution to the musical beds. I placed a folded single bed in their room and when they go to sleep (at 8:00pm sharp! But that’s for another blog post) I tell them that I will be coming to sleep in there later on. Me sleeping in their room gives them the sense of security and and solves most of the night traffic. Adam will sometimes get up and go to our bed out of habit – and because Daddy is snoring there, but mostly, if they remember that I promised them to sleep in the folded bed, they see that I’m there and go back to bed.
By this act I’m hoping to install the basic confidence in me being there for them so that they’ll get used to sleeping in their beds the whole night. I’m not sure this is the right way to go (and that’s what posts and comments are for from you, readers), and it takes me away from sleeping every night with my husband, but it feels right – at least for now.