“You’ll build a rod for your own back”… This phrase does my head in. But, admittedly, I have used it myself before now.
My boy was a dream sleeper. From birth to three years old. He’d be in bed by 7pm, never an issue. We’d have a bath, then a bottle followed by bed. We left the room, shut the door and he’d be fast asleep. Then shortly after he turned three things changed and he decided he needed me or his dadda there to lay with him. This was a big shake up for us and was really out of the blue. But we obliged thinking it was just a phase. I obviously googled it to death. Sleep regression perhaps? Newly found separation anxiety?
Three months later, we’re still at it. We’ve heard many a time “Ooh you’ll make a rod for your own back” and “Nip it in the bud now while you can”. But in reality, have you tried to leave the room with a toddler that doesn’t want you to? There was no leaving him in bed to cry it out. I attempted getting up and leaving a few times. It was met with an almighty mother display of tears, wailing and getting out of bed chasing me. It was traumatic for him and I. So I nipped that method in bud right away. All he needs is me to lay with him for 5 minutes til he drifts off (sometimes within 30 seconds when he’s had a busy day, I love those days!). We have the same routine every bed time now where he likes to hold onto my hand. I know when he’s drifting off because his breath gets deeper and his grip loosens. Then he lets go and gives off a nice deep breath. That’s when I know I am safe to up and leave (skirting around the most ridiculously loud floorboards, I swear we will be moving house for this reason!!).
I’ve explained to him many times that daddy will be leaving tonight after a bedtime story or two but he replies “No, daddy bed”. So he knows what he wants and that is for me to lay with him. He’s feeling like he needs me there at the moment. I am not sure why. It could be separation anxiety as it coincided with starting nursery and he’s just trying to make sense of it all and therefore he’s trying to control his environment a little more. I get that, and am more than happy to assist him in this. Why would I want to do anything else?
I’ll be there to hold his hand while I try not to breathe so i don't disrupt him.
I’ll be there stroking his forehead when he’s had a bad day and needs comfort as he falls to sleep.
I’ll be there sitting in agony in the most uncomfortable position just so that he’s comfortable.
And I’ll be there using the soft glow from my phone screen dimmed down to the lowest it can be to check he’s asleep and then slowly escape the room.
If anything, it gives me fifteen minutes peace in complete darkness which I honestly love. But for now, if laying with him at the end of his busy, little day is what makes him happy? I’ll be doing it. Because one day he won't need me to do it anymore. Rod for my own back or not.