My husband and I are trying to break this horrible, horrible habit I started four years ago. I lay down on the floor in between Grant and Brooks’ beds while they fall asleep. It started as a way to guarantee they stayed in their beds and fell asleep when they first moved to “big-boy” beds. But now it has become a security, an attachment, a part of the nighttime routine.
At just two-years old, the boys decided they no longer wanted to sleep in their cribs for the entirety of a night. They weren’t climbers, they never climbed out, they simply would wake up every night at 2am and cry and scream. Sometimes it was one of them, sometimes it was both of them, but it was every night for about 3 months. I don’t know how I came up with my solution to this very exhausting and annoying problem, but I ended up just putting them on the floor with pillows and blankets, lying down next to one or both of them, for twenty minutes or so until they fell asleep. I would then pick myself up off the floor with a kink in my neck or a pain in my hip and head back to my bed. It was an exhausting time!
Sleeping on the floor instead of in their cribs became so much the norm that they we decided to transfer them to “big boy” beds. We were hopeful that they would just begin the night in their beds and stay in them since they basically have been sleeping on the floor for months anyway. We went out one weekend and purchased two twin mattresses, got rid of their cribs and made up new beds on the floor. They were so excited…until bedtime. They put their heads down on their pillows, Matt and I kissed them goodnight and we walked out and shut the door. 5 minutes later their door opened and out they came. We walked them back to their room, on their mattresses was to lay in the middle, hold their hands and make sure they fell asleep.
Fast forward 4 years and I am still lying in the middle while they close their eyes and drift off to sleep. I do really enjoy it because those 20 minutes before they fall asleep, we chat, they remember parts of their day that they want to share, and they tell me some of the most random tidbits that pop into their head. Much of it is procrastination on their part so they don’t have to go to sleep, but it is real, it is honest, and it is uncensored. But having me there in their room lying in the middle night after night has become a crutch, something they depend on, something that prevents them from falling asleep on their own. It has become a somewhat unhealthy attachment, a necessity, a bad habit that must be broken.
They are 6 now, and it is time. Time to break them and me of this bad habit. It is just as much me as it is them. I confess, I like our peaceful and calm nighttime routine. I like our time together. I like that they need me since much of the day, they no longer do. They have just become so independent. This is not going to be easy, I am sure there will be tears, and it is going to take time. I am not going to just rip the bandaid off, as Mark Twain said, “a habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.” I am going to use the countdown method I used when we took away their pacifiers, I am going to use reward charts and when all else fails I am going to bribe them. I will keep you posted on our progress. Wish me luck!
I am keeping Coconut in her crib for as long as I possibly can. I am pretty sure I am suffering from PTSD from this big-boy-bed transition. Is eight years old too old to still be sleeping in a crib? Would love to hear from many of you on this topic and your experiences.