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Category Archives: Attachment Parenting

Family Bedtime: The Oldest Sleep ‘Trick’ in the Books

“When do your kids go to bed?”, I get asked frequently.

“Well, usually, we all just go to bed together, around 8 or 9 o’clock.”

This conversation usually raises some eyebrows! But, ever since my oldest was a baby, my family has slept in the same room. My kids have never had to go to sleep on their own. I bet you’re wondering if my husband and I are human… Ha! Yes, well sort of (what’s normal anyway?). We are busy with work and things we like to do.

If one of us has work to do at night, we take turns being the one to go to sleep with the kids. Occasionally, we both find ourselves awake after the kids have gone to sleep. But, at least a few days a week, the whole family crashes in bed, at the same time, in one big sleepy heap, on our two mattresses on the floor that are smooshed together.

And it’s awesome.

I’ve never had to chase my kids back to their beds because they sleep IN my bed. It’s actually so easy, I honestly can’t understand the fuss over bed time that our society has created.

The idea of having to chase kids back to their bedrooms, or reassure them in the middle of the night that they can be brave enough to sleep in their own room… sounds like a lot of work!

Family bedtime is so easy. Little kids won’t want to stay up if their parents are asleep and the whole house is dark. Believe me, if you announce you’re going to sleep, most kids will follow you. Little kids want to be with their parents at night, it’s really natural. It’s dark. It’s scary. I don’t like being in a dark room alone… why would a child?

Family bed time means my husband and I get more sleep because we go to sleep at the same time as the kids. The times when we do put the kids to bed and then stay up for a little living room ‘date’, are fun and all, but it can be such an effort! To have to peel ourselves up from that sweet cloud of children’s sleep, is no easy feat. When we do stay up late, we end up staying up way too late and wake up the next morning feeling pooped!

Kids go to sleep faster when the whole family goes to sleep at the same time. It doesn’t take long for kids to drift off when everyone is falling to sleep at the same time. But, if I’m sitting there waiting for them to fall to sleep, it can take AGES for the kids to fall to sleep! Kids feel the energy of you doing the agonising ‘wait‘ for them to fall to sleep! The longer it takes for them to drift off, the more resentful the parents get. The more resentful we get, the more our kids pick up on our vibes and it then it takes them even longer to fall to sleep!

Family bed time creates this beautiful sleepy energy that takes over everyone. I love the feeling when I know that this is the end of the day. Nothing else to do. I sleep next to my 2 year old son, he’s so warm and cuddly and I can feel when he drifts off and then it’s my body’s cue to do the same. Ahhh…

I’ve read a lot of parenting books, and almost all of them have dedicated entire chapters to bedtime strategies (actually, some books are ENTIRELY about sleep). How to get kids to go to their beds, go to sleep and stay there until a reasonable time in the morning…

Elaborate bedtime routines, sticker charts, bribes, systematic ignoring of crying… you name it. One particular popular parenting book I read, which I don’t even want to mention the name, suggests that it’s ok if your 4 year old child cries for 1-2 hours at night alone in their bed, as long as they’re physically ‘ok’ because you can just make up for it by positive parenting during the day. *facepalm*. The book gives the reader the message that under no circumstances should let your child into your bed, otherwise, God knows WHAT bad habits might form! (forgetting that children have been sleeping next to their parents since the beginning of time).

I sigh… as I snuggle close to my babes, I feel sad… What an effort it must be to follow the advice in those books!

And, for mornings, once a kid is awake, there’s not much else you can do about that. We get up too, but remember, if we went to bed early, it doesn’t matter as much. If your child is waking up really early and won’t sleep without you glued to their side, there are some things you can do, and I can save that for a later post!

Time goes really slow for a child, so if they’re sitting there at night or in the morning, waiting to be allowed to get up out of bed, even if it’s only half an hour, that half an hour can feel like an eternity for them!

Family bed time and family beds are so beautiful and easy. At the time of writing this, I have three kids, 8 1/2, 6 and 2. My 2 year old sleeps next to the 8 year old. I know that sometimes the little guy rolls into her. I asked her, “Does it bother you when he bumps into you at night?” She said, “No way! I love him, even if he bumps into me, I just wake up for a second and go back to sleep, because he’s sooooo cute!” We found an arrangement that makes everyone happy

Despite the fear that bed sharing will inhibit your child’s ability to be independent, some people (like me) would argue the opposite. That when a child feels safe and secure both day AND night, they will become every more confident and have less to worry about. For us, family bed time has been so easy. Yes, they are some of logistics to figure out, like, how do you and your husband ever have sex (well, we have three kids, so don’t be silly and look at India, they roomshare and they have a population of 1 billion people), and what happens if one wakes up crying, pee in the bed, etc. These are all real legitimate concerns and I think the answer is different for every family. And sometimes, one parent really cannot put up with room sharing, so then you have to accomodate for that in order to save your relationship. But, guaranteed, after a little trial and error, everyone finds some sort of system that works where needs for connection at night can be met.

Some nights (and these nights are rare), yes, we are all up because somebody got sick or there was a problem or something. But, 99.9% of the time, it’s beautiful cuddles. My kids feel safe and secure knowing that if they wake up at night for anything at all, somebody will be right there to help. And, I actually sleep better, knowing that everyone is safe and next to me! And, best of all… it’s all very VERY easy.

Disclaimer: If you’re going to bedshare with an infant, please make sure you read proper co-sleeping guidelines. Never sleep with your child if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Young babies should sleep on a firm surface, away from any cracks, blankets or pillows or anything that could obstruct their airway.

I Didn’t Leave the House AT ALL For Six Weeks After my Baby Was Born: It Was Fantastic!

imageWhen my first daughter was born, I’ll never forget my grandmother telling me over the phone, “Now, Katie, a winter baby stays in the house for 4 weeks, a summer baby stays in the house for 2. Your baby was born in autumn, so you should stay in the house for 3 weeks.Read the rest of this entry

Velcro Child

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Some kids are runners or wanderers. Mine? They are not. They stick to me. As babies, they wanted to be held or carried in a baby carrier and never wanted to be put down in public places. They are far from baby age now, and yet, they still stick. My nearly 4 year old insists on holding my hand when we go out. In a new place, she parks herself on my lap until she’s 100% sure it’s safe to roam around. She sleeps next to me at night. If she wakes up and I’m not there, she’s pretty upset until she can find me. My 6 year old follows me around the house all day, sticking her nose into all of my business.

Am I worried?

Not one tiny bit.

It seems a little annoying at times. In a world where ‘independence‘ is pushed, I can see where parents get especially bothered by children who only want to be by their parent’s side all day long.

But…

Read the rest of this entry

Kid Acting Defiant? How Power Reversal Games Can Save You, Without Using Punishment

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My daughter, Margo (4 1/2), had been acting so difficult for the past few days. Really, annoying her sister and me to the max. Refusing to leave the playground when I needed her to leave. Refusing the shower. Refusing to go to the toilet, even when I knew she was busting. I wasn’t being over-anal either, she was actually driving everyone insane! Read the rest of this entry

My Four Year Old Doesn’t Know What the Word ‘Naughty’ Means

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A few months ago, we were walking with a friend and we saw some older kids in the neighborhood getting into some mischief. My friend said to my daughter, “Those boys are being naughty!” My daughter looked at me and whispered, “What does ‘naughty’ mean?  Read the rest of this entry

Five Things the British Nanny Almost Got Right

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Partial knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

I saw the Huffington Post article ‘5 Reasons Modern-Day Parenting is in Crisis-According to a British Nanny‘ floating around my Facebook newsfeed for days. I purposely ignored it, until a friend actually asked me to read it to see what I thought about it! I read it and to my surprise, it wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. Although, there are HUGE, POTENTIALLY, DANGEROUS GAPS if her advice is taken out of context. Her article was short, easy to read, had something that every parent could relate to BUT, I would like to revise it for her. Read the rest of this entry

NIP in America: An Insider’s Perspective From 10,000 Miles Away

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NIP stands for Nursing in Public

A year ago, I would have never posted a picture of myself breastfeeding on the internet. Now, I feel like there’s no better way. Read the rest of this entry

201,987 Reasons Why I Bother

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(The title of this post is only meant to be *slightly* making fun of the ‘numbers of reasons’ posts that everyone writes these days.)

I sometimes wonder why I bother writing post after post on awareness parenting. I mean, I’M ALREADY a gentle parent. I’m already doing things that I know are good for my children’s emotional and physical growth… The few hours of quiet that I do get around the house, I spend writing, edited, sharing, responding to comments, etc. Today, the number of views on my blog stands right at 201,987, at the moment of writing this sentence. It might sounds exciting to some, but really, some blogs get that many views in a single day! Some days I feel like it’s a waste of time… until… I hear a story… and then I stop. Re-think it. And write another post. Read the rest of this entry

Should You Give a Crap About Early Toilet Training?

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Let’s face it, babies and toddlers aren’t stupid. They figure out how to walk, talk, eat, climb, and do everything else. Surely… they can figure out toilet training at a relatively young age if we encourage them? It’s only natural that they would want to stop pooing and peeing on themselves. I recently read an article about a woman who was against putting in any extra effort to toilet train her children and only let her kids toilet train when they were practically begging her. I just about gagged. Read the rest of this entry

Why I Would Worry if My Baby Slept Through the Night

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When my older daughter was about three months old, my grandmother told me over the phone that all of her babies, at that age, were sleeping 12 hours through the night… TWELVE HOURS?! OMG! Margo was barely sleeping longer than three hour blocks, how the hell was she supposed to sleep for twelve hours straight?! And, if she did sleep through the night at that age, I think my boobs would have exploded!

Warmth, Security and Co-Sleeping
We co-sleep in our house. My 4 year old has a toddler bed right next to ours and our nearly 2 year old sleeps right in the middle of us. They never have to wake up and climb into our beds, because they’re already IN our bed. When my girls were babies, they had this sort of warmth/body radar. If they stirred and there wasn’t a warm body that they could roll around and smoosh up to, they would almost always wake up in distress. And, it’s for good reason! Babies have only been sleeping away from their parents, in separate rooms for the past hundred or so years. Before that, babies would only have slept right in their mother’s armpit, lest the wolves got to them or something. Night time is dark and scary. Having a trusted carer there, (at least in the same room), gives a strong sense of security and trust. Like, “Yes, I’m here. If you need anything, I’ll help you.” Trust that inevitably carries on for the rest of a child’s life!

Easy Access to Nutrition
Young babies need to feed several times throughout the night. Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, having your baby right next to you allows you to respond to their needs very quickly, before they become distraught. I mean, even if they don’t have a huge feed, they might be thirsty and need a little sip. Um, hello, I get up in the middle of the night for sip of water! I wouldn’t expect a baby, whose digestive tract is way shorter than an adults, to make it through the night without a little something to eat or drink!

Babies need to pee and poo!
Before I had my first, I remember watching a video that distinctly told you NOT to change a baby’s nappy if they were asleep! Even if they had done a poo, that you should leave it for the morning, unless they had a really bad rash.

Call me crazy, and I know it’s not for everyone, but I’ve been taking my babies to the toilet at night since they were born. They’ve never sat in their own waste at night. Taking a baby to the loo is called ‘elimination communication’. I also used cloth nappies, so if I did miss something… wet meant wet! Even disposables never worked to mask the dampness because my girls were so used to being dry. So… when I hear that a baby has been sleeping 10 or 12 hours through the night, my first though is, “OMG! Yeah, they were sleeping through the night in their own pee and poo!

Babies Breath and Heart Rate
It’s been proven that babies who co-sleep have less overall apnea (periods when they stop breathing) and also their heart rate does not drop as low [1]. Since a baby’s lungs and circulatory system are still developing, it’s actually not good if they go into such a deep sleep for a long time!

My Own Peace of Mind
Despite everything I’ve just said, it all comes down to how I would feel if I didn’t see or hear from my baby for 10 or 12 hours. It just wouldn’t seem right. It’s so unfortunate that these tiny little people, who are still adjusting to their world and are very dependent for every need, are expected to be out of sight and out of mind for so many hours in a row. Babies are not ‘some thing‘ that should be put off in another part of the house. They are members of the family and their needs should be responded to promptly. Sure, some babies sleep ‘well‘ at night. Mine certainly did for the most part. But, they really didn’t ‘sleep through‘ the night until they were about 20-22 months. And, for some kids sleeping through the night comes earlier or later or really never at all! It’s actually a myth that people should sleep 8 hours through the night in the first place! The eight hour ‘sleep‘ only came around during the industrial revolution with the 8 hour work day. 

So, when people tell me that their young babies sleep through the night. I raise my eyebrows and say, “Really?! That’s strange!

If your baby is waking up excessively, like more than 3 or 4 times a night, you might want to read this one I wrote 🙂

*Note- In the title, I’m mostly referring to babies sleeping through the night alone in another room*

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[1] McKenna, Thomas. ‘Why Babies Should Never Sleep Alone: A Review of the Co-Sleeping Controversy in Relation to SIDS, Bedsharing and Breastfeeding’. Pediatric Respiratory Reviews (2005) 6 134-152