Last week I had a terrible week with the boys and their sleeping, I think it was a combination of the post Christmas excitement and being separated when Reuben went away for a few days with his Grandparents. Needless to say, tears and temper tantrums were the flavour of the week, especially from me – at 37 weeks pregnant I can’t seem to cut 7 hours sleep over 48 hours with much grace or dignity… not that I ever could.
Anyway, it left us with the question of ‘What the hell do we do?!’ I was in panic mode imagining myself and my husband squashed into corners of the bed, me post birth with one child’s foot in my face and another latched on a boob, while Adam fielded questions about the latest transformer to pop into an exuberant 3 year old mind at 3am. I’m not a fan of leaving kids to cry, I used to think I was – I did it a few time with Reuben and it seemed to work, only ever for a short period of time when he just blatantly didn’t want to go to bed at 11 months old and was feeling clingy to me. I guess this is what you would call ‘controlled crying’? I never left him for more than maybe 10-15 minutes, we didn’t have the stomach, and some nights we just gave in and let him come on down… but that had much the effect it has now: grumpy child and grumpy mama the following day. Then Toby came along and I just couldn’t (and still can’t) bare to think that my boy would feel pushed out. Reuben was never really left to ‘get on with it’ after that and Toby hasn’t been either – it didn’t feel right and I’ve grown as a mother. If it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t for us.
Tell me I’m making a rod for my own back if you will, but it’s my back and I’ll foster the rod if I need to. I may also cry and complain through it, but hey, welcome to my prerogative!
Fast forwards, the boys have been pretty darn good to us of late, Toby sleeps most night’s through (making up for never sleeping in the first 6 months of life!) and Roo has done for the majority of his life, coming into us around 4am and going back to sleep until his brother gets us all up at 6-6.30am. His only bug bare was settling alone, which he came to do happily at about 13 months old with a few stories and kisses with only the odd night up late.
Suddenly though, and whether it is the impending arrival that is stressing them, or just the Christmas madness, they won’t go to sleep and if they do, they won’t stay asleep! We have had weeks of broken nights (horribly broken, with hours spent awake that started before Christmas and seemed to pause) or temper tantrum filled bedtimes. THEY WILL NOT GO TO SLEEP! We recently had 4 nights of 11pm bedtimes then up and down, chats at 3am, tossing and turning in our bed, co sleeping nightmares with BOTH of them in our bed and it was hell. I didn’t realise you could ‘baby wear’ a 3 year old… across your face. I didn’t know that the conversations about transformers and paw patrol could be so in-depth at 3am. I also didn’t know I could so passionately dislike my children, and consider selling them to anyone, anyone at all at 4am (I am kidding there… about the selling!). This led to hysterical tantrums during the day, arguments about any tiny thing and just general awful behaviour!
Something broke in me eventually, I think it might have been when I breathlessly read Reuben the 8th Thomas the tank engine book and he sat up and went, ‘Mummy we don’t want to sleep, we aren’t sleepy, so it’s not going to happen’. I stood up and explained to him (in my rather hysterical, shouty voice) that I was not going to mess about anymore, oh no. I had had enough! I told them both that I was so tired, that they weren’t allowed to come downstairs tonight no matter what, that they had each other so couldn’t be lonely and I needed to sleep. I would NOT sit their any longer while they giggled at each other and talked over my story reading! They sat there in stunned silence, Toby started to whinge a little as I stood up to walk away. I made my way downstairs knowing full well that I was done and they would no doubt be downstairs in moments, enjoying stealing the prawn crackers from my now semi-warm Chinese takeout.
Then a little voice came across the monitor… ‘ Toby, don’t be sad, Mummy loves us very much, but she is very cross right now because we are being so naughty and won’t go to sleep. She will be so cross with you if you go downstairs, we have to be quiet and go to sleep now. She’s only downstairs you know. Let’s snuggle down.’ After that there was literally no chattering, no giggling, just silence and peaceful sleep. I didn’t realise it at the time and if I’m brutally honest I was just grateful for the quiet, but the boys had climbed into bed together.
My sweet little boys spent the whole night (the whole night!!) wrapped up in each other’s cuddly little arms! Reuben was the most supportive, wonderful big brother and Toby cuddled into him all night. They had such a wonderful rest that they played merrily together (obviously with the odd attempt on each other’s lives in between the sweet playing) all day the next day. Reuben has been begging Toby to sleep with him every night since, so far we have decided to go with the flow and let them choose and though they haven’t started off in bed together (much to Reuben’s tearful horror) sometimes they have ended up so by around 3am. This seems to be a real source of comfort for them, and they seem to be getting closer day by day.
At this stage we are going to see how things progress before we move to full time bed sharing. They have separate single beds which they get into each night at bedtime, and as I said, though Roo is desperate to sleep with Toby, Toby doesn’t want to start the night off in Roo’s bed yet, however as they get older it isn’t something we want to discourage. If they are happy and they keep getting into bed together we will eventually pop a double bed in their room for them to share.
What are your thoughts? Do you kids bed share with their siblings? Would you let them or is it something that would cause chaos in your lives? I’d love to know!