Saturday, January 26, 2013

Do what comes naturally

I know I signed up for this when Molly was born and we brought her into bed with us. I didn't even know at that point what "co-sleeping" was, I just knew it made more sense for our winter baby to sleep in bed with us where I could feed her without either of us waking much and where she could sleep all night curled up in Daddy's arms having her warmth monitored. 
Plus, the man loves to cuddle... she was a God send. 
I remember being a tender hearted little girl who felt afraid a lot. There was no reason for me to feel that way; my parents were very loving and took great care of us. We always had comfy rooms and warm blankets at night and we shared our room each with a sibling, but I would sometimes wake up and be afraid. I crawled into bed with my parents as often as possible. Also, being raised in Japan where co-sleeping is a cultural norm, it's never been weird to me, it just... makes sense.

I have always had anxiety and having a little one who has many signs of anxiety herself, I can't help but offer all my kids any comforts they want - even when it comes to sleeping.

We refer to it as "the big bed" not 'mom's bed' or 'dad's bed', it's somehow become open to anyone who wants in, and we're actually pretty happy that way.

Molly co-slept with us until Iris was born then we moved her to her own room with Lucy. Lucy never liked sleeping with us when she was a baby, but she loved to cuddle so she would cuddle with us and when she was tired we would put her in her crib and BAM, she would be asleep. Iris is exactly the same way! Now that she's older she loves to sleep with us and prefers it over sleeping in her own bed. Molly though, has always had a bit of a harder time falling asleep without us and still comes into our room very early (4 or 5 AM) most mornings and we let her lay on a little bed made up of a big comforter folded up that we keep on the end of the bed. I wish we had a king, but for now, we have a queen. It can get pretty squishy! Both girls always bring their blankets and pillow with them when they pad in so they're always nice and warm on the floor. I have a hard time sleeping when someone is touching me when I am pregnant and after the baby arrives I feel like I'm going through touch with drawl and love to cuddle all night with tiny babies or toddlers or you know, just my husband. Ha!

Since we've moved, the girls' room is conveniently located right outside our door! They have a "walk thru" room and if we leave the door open (which we always do!) it's like an extension of our room.

Since we've moved we ran into a dilemma. Since"the beginning of time" until recently I've let them sleep on the big bed for naps but now there is only Sundays when our bedroom is free and open to sleepy girls since Jerry is working from home. This summer we migrated to the downstairs and the girls slept on the couches while I sat by with a book or on the computer, however... our living room is quite a bit brighter in this house and we have more going on during the day.

So when we moved in here in November, when it was nap time I would tuck them in shortly after lunch and they WOULD.NOT.SLEEP. They would play, until I took out the toys in their room then they would fight and kick the walls until nap time turned into me just calling up the stairs to be quiet over and over or going in over and over telling them they were being naughty or disobeying. It was hard on all of us and hard mentally for me, I felt like two hours of "quiet time" became warfare time. Finally I gave up and implemented quiet time and put their toys back in their room - BUT they both really really need naps still. 1-3 was quiet time then 3-4:30 we would watch a movie then about 5 -8 was screaming, fighting, meltdowns, injuries, injustice, etc. It was a long couple of weeks. 
Suddenly, at the beginning of January I had a realization that they just really needed naps. After lunch I tuck them into bed and sit in their room for, I am not even kidding - about 3 minutes. They are instantly sleeping peacefully and even on the rare occasion they are whispering to themselves or crawling around under their blankets, a gentle "shhhh" helps remind them it's sleeping time. I've never had to sit in their room for more than 5 minutes.

They fall asleep peacefully and sleep for about 2 or 2.5 hours and wake up so cheerful and ready for the rest of the afternoon. I usually can even get in an hour nap or at least quiet time to myself. Lately I've been using that time to shower. Ha!

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It's true, I do read a LOT of parenting books, I ask a lot of parenting questions, and I am part of several parenting groups. I love to get advice from other mommies who've tried this and that. We've tried cry it out, breast feeding, formula, co-sleeping, baby wearing, bouncy seats, time outs, spanking, talking it out, etc. 
Ultimately you should do what feels right and seeing as I'm a stay at home mom, I have a lot of time to spend with them. I get the most joy when I can keep my little women huddled close to me and that's when they're most happy too. Works out pretty well. 

I guess I have just come to the conclusion that you just gotta do what comes naturally. Even if it's sitting in their room until they're 18 so they can fall asleep peacefully. There is nothing I can give them that is more important than feeling peaceful and loved as little people.

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