Have a little one that still requires you to drift off to sleep? Join the club. It’s a very secretive club, but it’s one that all parents should be proud (not ashamed) to be a part of!
I have a confession… one that is probably going to make me look like the world’s crappiest mum, but I don’t care. My son, who is now seven, still relies on me to help him fall asleep.
Falling asleep in my kids’ beds … since 2010
That’s right. I’ve had seven years to sleep train him and I have failed. Okay, not failed. I’ll rephrase. I have chosen to ignore this important parenting lesson. And I am perfectly okay with that, even if society thinks I shouldn’t be.
No, I’m not still secretly breastfeeding into the night (kudos to mums who do choose extending breastfeeding, but I chose wine after dinner a LONG time ago). But I do still lie with him. I tickle his back. I stroke his face. And I cuddle him until he is on the verge of falling asleep.
Sometimes I stay until he is fully asleep. Not because he needs me to but because I want to (or because I have fallen asleep beside him).
But, wait, it gets worse. Because after I’ve cuddled my son to sleep, I then repeat the process with my daughter. That’s double the tickles, double the face strokes and double the cuddles. Sometimes it takes two minutes; sometimes it takes an hour. And sometimes I lose track of time and wake up still cuddling my kids tightly in their itty bitty beds.
Let sleeping mums lie
This isn’t new. Oh no. This bedtime routine has been going on since they were both born. Before tickling their backs, I would rock them to sleep. Before rocking them to sleep, I would feed them to sleep. And, sometimes I would even sing them to sleep (sorry neighbours). Never once did I attempt to sleep train them (it’s not that I have anything against it, I was always just too tired at the end of the day to do it).
And, guess what? Both of them sleep. Both of them sleep through the night in their own beds. And they sleep in too. Sometimes til 7.00am…And on weekends, 7.30am.
Why share this? It’s not to brag about my kids’ amazing sleep-in abilities (okay, perhaps it is just a little bit). It’s because I’m sure a lot of other mums are probably in the same boat (or little bed). A lot of other mums have opted for cuddles over cry it out.
And I’m guessing a lot of other mums are experiencing a similar guilt that I used to have over it.
Cuddle to your hearts’ content!
Whether your little ones are babies, toddlers, preschoolers, or, like my two, school-aged kids, you are not screwing them up by letting them lie with you at night. You are not ruining their chances of learning how to sleep. You are not doing the wrong thing.
There is no ‘parenting law’ that says you can’t cuddle your kids to sleep. This is your right as a mum – to smother your kids with as many cuddles as you want…until they say enough.
One day there will come a time when our kids say,”It’s okay, mum, I can go to sleep without you.” And we will say goodnight and shut the door and probably weep into our wine glasses because our babies are growing up too fast.
But not tonight. As long as my two minions ask for cuddles before bed, then I will be lying beside them with open arms.
So, to all the mums who are preparing to cuddle with their little ones until they fall asleep (and most likely dosing off yourself), banish the guilt and enjoy those precious moments with your babies, no matter how old they are. I’ll be doing the exact same thing… twice.