Hi Kate… and anyone else who ends up reading this!
I’ve long been faced with a health care dilemma and can use some advice from other solo parents. My 4-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son routinely come into my bedroom and randomly wake me up at night, wanting to jump into bed with daddy. I think it’s emotional neediness associated with having an alcoholic mom who lost all legal rights to them and their way of coping with the trauma. But since it’s nearly impossible to reason with kids that age, what can I do to break this cycle once and for all? I’m a light sleeper to begin with and have trouble falling back to sleep once I’m woken up in the middle of the night.
First of all, apologies for the delay.
Secondly, this is a common conundrum for solos. My son was fully sleep trained, and always slept in his own bed…until our divorce. After that, it all went to pot. He needed me, his life was in turmoil and to top it all off, I felt guilty!
Here’s what I did with my son (3 1/2 at the time of my divorce, now 9 1/2!), and perhaps it will help you too:
First, we discussed his feelings of wanting to be close to mommy and I validated all of them. Then, we discussed my needs…and THEN we made a deal together that he could have “slumber party” one night a week, IF he stayed in his bed the rest of the week. There were nights at first when I had to walk him back into his bed (he was honest-to-God sleepwalking). But eventually he began to stay put. Our “slumber party” nights are pre-set and we make them really fun, so he looks forward to them, and is motivated to “get” them.
I think the most important part of this is to validate their feelings, talk about why they’re coming into your bed and also express your need for a good night’s sleep. Talk about it over dinner, or when building legos, so it’s not too weighty and so they have time before bed-time to process it.
If you have trouble and you still need help, Symbio San Francisco (in the Resources section) is my go-to for all developmental concerns!