As a blended family, I strive to raise all of my kids the same. I assume that they will do stupid things and try to get over on me. I am a parent, not a friend. I have done more incredibly dumb things than they ever need to know in my youth and I remember all of them. Basic stuff like that.
It came as a surprise to me when S.O. had some decidedly different ideas on parenting than what I do because the EX really never was involved in how I raised the OG5. It has been a struggle at times to reconcile how I think the kids should be raised and how he thinks that it should be done. It is normally not over any big thing but there are enough small differences that it can make for some interesting conversations. For instance, co-sleeping.
The OG5 had bedtimes from the time that they had a sleep schedule. They slept in their own beds in their own rooms. If they were sick or had a nightmare then they could cuddle in bed with me but other than that, it was lights out at 8 p.m. With the exception of #5 who snuck in my bed every night like a ninja until he was in kindergarten. But he still went to sleep in his own bed in his own room. Looking back, I was so much more organized in my youth than now. S.O. was adamant that #6 was only going to be little for so long and if she wanted to sleep in mommy and daddy’s bed than it was okay by him. Silly me, this was one of those battles that I decided not to fight. It was his first biological child and how bad could it be?
Fast forward 6 years. #6 still thinks that her bedroom is our bedroom. That our bed is hers. She cries and whines and moans and throws a fit and tells me how I am a horrible mom because she has to go to sleep in her own bed in her own room. And S.O., being the big softy that he is, will inevitably let her sleep in our bed because she is a child and she knows which parent is being the weak link in the armor of parenting.
#6 has a beautiful bedroom. It is decorated in lilac and has fairy’s and a queen sized bed. I slept in bunk beds with my siblings until I moved out. I didn’t get a bed bigger than a full-size until 8 years ago. I would have killed to have my own room with a bed big enough to roll over in and not fall on the floor. She will complain that her bed is too lumpy, too soft, too hard, haunted, doesn’t like her, makes her wake up, has zombies underneath it, and isn’t our bed. After listening to her various complaints and concerns, I remind her that as long as she goes to sleep in her own room, IF she wakes up in the middle of the night, she can come into our room. She will lay down after sobbing as if I had just murdered her puppy in front of her and come trotting in 10 minutes later. In an Oscar worthy performance (watch out Meryl Streep) she will stumble in our room, rubbing her eyes like she has been sleeping for 24 hours, and say “I fell asleep and woke up. Now can I lay in your bed?” Every night.
I am coming to terms with the fact that she just may, in fact, sleep in our room until she realizes that her parents suck and know nothing. So around 14. I have some advice to give parents who are looking into the whole co-sleeping thing. Don’t. Sure, they are cuddly as babies and you can snuggle with them (and wake up every 10 minutes to make sure you haven’t rolled over on them.) When breastfeeding, it is much easier to roll over and pop a boob in the squalling mouth that requires sustenance than stumbling across the hallway and banging your shins into the crib to pick up said squalling infant.
I read all the helpful articles about how to get your toddler to sleep in their own bed filled with helpful advice like, “comfort them and than let them cry it out” and “start with staying in their room for an hour and slowly work up to a good night kiss and leave.” Which is all well and good but didn’t work. I don’t believe in letting a child cry it out. It is not good for my eardrums and my husband can only last about 5 minutes without feeling like a bad parent and caving. So, we tried putting her mattress in our room and letting her sleep on the mattress at night. Still in her own bed, not in her own room. That worked once. She still managed to climb into our bed and still cried 75% of the time about not being in our bed to begin with.
I will continue to put her to bed in her own room every night. With about 20 stuffed animals arranged in a precise pattern that only #6 understands and two nightlights. She also has to have the Hello Kitty radio on just the right station and at just the right volume. S.O. and I take turns sitting in the rocking chair until she falls asleep (normally takes about 10 minutes.) And every night, quiet as a kitten, she will sneak into our bed, snuggle in between us, and than sleep in a position resembling a cross so that S.O. and I have about an inch of space to sleep on. I did learn a lesson from all of this though. I rocked as a parent in my 20’s, S.O. has lost his voting rights in parental elections, and #7 is never going to get to sleep in my bed. Ever.