Moms Talk: Battling Bed Wars
This week, the Moms Council discusses the importance of drawing boundaries in the land of sleep.
Question: "How do you manage your child's sleeping routine? Do you ever let them sleep in your bed? Or is there a strict "door shut" policy?"
Denise Zonfrillo: "I learned early on as a new mom that a parent's bedroom is sacred to retaining sanity. Besides nursing an infant in a bassinet at my bedside, or an episode of a respiratory infection, I never intentionally let either of them sleep in my bedroom. There have been the occasional night terrors that sent my oldest running to my room, but he knew that when his fear had passed, he would be walked backed to bed. I consider myself a bit greedy with my sleep and I know that if a child is sleeping in my bed, I'm not sleeping restfully, if at all. The youngest is in bed between 7 to 7:30 p.m. and the oldest (during the school year) is in bed at 9 p.m. Most nights we REALLY need that one hour of down time before we hit the hay ourselves!"
Kimberly Sluter: "We are big fans of bedtime routines. Our three-year-old was only in our room as an infant. He has a tub, reads books, says his goodnight prayer and then is in his bed by 7:30 p.m. We carry this routine on weekends and vacations with only the occasional exception for something special. He only joins us in our room on weekend mornings if we have the luxury of resting a little longer. Our six-week-old just relocated to his own bedroom this weekend and we're working on the same routine. For three nights in a row he has gone down between 8 and 9 p.m. and is waking to nurse only once in the night! (We are hoping this schedule sticks.) Our pediatrician consistently stresses the importance of a sleep routine which includes putting children to bed when they are awake so they can learn to put themselves to sleep and self soothe should they wake at night. As a couple we value the few hours we get alone when the kids are in bed.
Kris Lyons: "With four kids if we ever want a minute to ourselves, we have to be strict with bedtime! Our younger children all go to bed around 7:30 to 8 p.m. We do the same routine even on weekends: bath, books and then bed! They do well with the routine and get a good night's rest. We have never let them sleep in our bed so it's never even been an issue. If they are having problems sleeping because they don't feel well or are restless, etc. we may lay next to them while they settled down. We have baby monitors in their rooms so we can hear them at night and we respond when called. For the most part our room is off limits! We keep our bedroom door locked mainly because if they ran in our room at night it would startle the dog and she would get upset. We need an adult only space as they occupy the rest of the house!"
Darline Almeida: "This one is a battle in my house. When my son was younger, he would always sleep in his room and went to bed by 8 p.m. or the latest 8:30 p.m. I don't know how it happened, but it all started with my husband. The one time my son slept in our bed, that was it. I have a battle with him on a regular basis, but the one who caves in is my husband. There are many nights, when my son will fall asleep in my bed and I will move him back to his bed and when I wake up in the morning there he is. I'm a sound sleeper, so sneaking in, is not a problem for him. On rare occassion, he will sleep in his bed the whole time. When I tell my son, he needs to sleep in his bed, I get the following, "I have no one to cuddle with," or "I have no one sleeping in my room." I know these are all excuses and I know I will have to fight hard this summer to keep him in his bed, especially now where he will need a good night sleep for school. This past year I was a little lax in the bedtime, since he was going to school in the afternoon, I was letting him stay up until 9 p.m. or so. Those days, will soon be over. Within the next three weeks, he will be back to his 8 p.m. bedtime schedule so that he will be well rested for when the new school year begins. Lastly, I know if I need to, I will shut the door to my room to completely cut the ties of trying to get into my cozy bed."
Jan Randall: "My mom was a huge influence on how Bob and I raised our kids when they were young. When I was pregnant with my first child, my Mom and I would talk and she strongly encouraged me to get the baby on a schedule as soon as possible, which included a regular bedtime every night. By the time my daughter was eight weeks old I had her on a solid schedul Both the kids went to bed at 8 p.m. every single night from the time they were infants until they were about 10 or 11-years-old. The only time either of our kids were in our bed was when I was nursing, and then they went right back to their cribs. Later when my kids slept in regular beds they would only be in our beds first thing in the morning.
Andy went through a period of time, starting just before he was diagnosed with Autism at age 3, when he had severe sleep problems and would be up half the night. The first week of the sleep problems he would get into bed with us at 1 or 2 in the morning. I tolerated that for about a week and then I ended it. If he came in our bed I put him back in his bed. If he kept getting up, I slept on the couch outside his bedroom to make sure he stayed in there. The sleep problems lasted for nine months and ended when I removed all dairy from his diet.
I'm a strong believer in regular bedtimes for kids and having them sleep in their own rooms. Regular sleep and wake-up times ensure that children get enough sleep and are important for them to be physically and mentally well. I also believe that children sleeping in their own rooms help kids develop the important developmental skills like being able to soothe themselves and a sense of independence."