My oldest daughter went from the bassinet, to a baby tent on my bedroom floor, to my bed before landing in her Dora toddler bed at the age of 2 and a half. My middle was a bit harder, which is why at 6 years old, she still ends up between my husband and I, almost every night. At first we'd walk her back to her room, but she'd require that one of us lay with her until she fell asleep. I had things to do, so my husband got comfy on her bedroom floor. Once her breathing became steady, he'd creep backwards out of the room, praying that the wooden floor wouldn't creak and wake her up. When she realized that he wasn't around when she'd woken up, she started asking to hold his hand. This way, she'd know when he left. After an hour or two, she'd fall asleep. Frank and I would give each other a silent high five, thinking we'd won this battle. However, the joke was on us because, during the wee hours of the night, she'd end up back where she started. Eventually, we threw in the towel. After a long day, we were tired and it was easier to just let her stay. Some nights she'd come in and we wouldn't even know she was there until we woke up the next morning.
As a new parent, I read all of the popular parenting magazines and searched the websites in hopes that I could get tips on how to do everything by the book. I had to learn that it doesn't always work that way. I realized that I needed to cut myself some slack because parenting is not one size fits all. I tried the sleep training thing...for one night. I gave up immediately because I couldn't handle it. Hearing them cry would make me want to cry. At bedtime, I'd put them in the crib and watch the monitor. As soon as they'd start to whimper, Frank or I would be right there to sooth and coddle and transport them to our bed. We set ourselves up for many uncomfortable nights. If you didn't know, children are horrible sleepers. Their feet end up in your side, their hands on your face, their elbow in your neck...you get my point. I'd wake up with body aches and think "are we the only ones going through this?" and "when will they stay in their own beds, all night?"
With number three, however, I was determined to do it "right"...kind of. It was more for myself and Frank than for her because I wanted us to have our bed to ourselves, for at least a few hours, before the troops started coming in. So the baby, went from the bassinet straight to the crib. We had no mercy. Poor 3rd kid. With the first two, there was no way we were letting them cry themselves to sleep. With the 3rd, we'd put her to bed and give each other that "she'll be alright" look. She wasn't hungry, she wasn't bleeding, no fever and her diaper was dry, so she was fine. We started by letting her cry it out and then realized that she fell asleep a lot sooner if we gave her a bottle. With the first two, I would have never done that. I was worried that they'd depend on the bottle and it'd be difficult once we weened them off. I know I'm setting myself up, but 2 years of relaxing in bed with just 2 people instead of 5 is worth it, even for only a few hours a night. I'll probably regret it, but for now I'm wiling to make the sacrifice.
I sometimes complain and threaten to kick my kids out of my bed, but there's a part of me that would probably suffer from a little separation anxiety. In a few years, they're not going to want to cuddle with me, so I secretly savor the moments and gladly scoot over to make space for them.