This is an update to the post published at the end of last year, My Preschooler Cannot Sleep without Me. After four freakin’ years, I am happy to say that J is sleeping independently! Crack open the champagne, because Mama needs to celebrate!
I hope I am not jinxing myself by putting this out into the Universe. I have talked to my friends about it so this isn’t the first time I’m making this revelation. She’s been falling asleep and sleeping independently for many weeks so I think (hope) this is a permanent situation.
For those of you who are curious about what I did…it wasn’t much! I refused (and still refuse) to let J cry by herself if she needed me at night, so this is really about her being ready. I noticed she was not waking in the middle of the night for several days in a row, so I decided to build upon that and see if I could get her to fall asleep without me in the bed.
The first night was somewhat of an accident. I needed a shower so after I finished reading her a story, I said I smelled! I made a silly game of it and told her I was too stinky to stay in bed. There was a small amount of protest on her part, so I said I would check on her when my shower was done…hoping that she would fall asleep before that time. Guess what? She did!
I kept up that same routine for several more nights…telling her I need a shower and then getting out of bed. Lately, she’s asked to read books so I keep the light on when I leave the room. Usually within 20 minutes she’s asleep!
Sometimes she asks for me to sleep in her bed and I avoid giving her a direct answer. I tell her I’ll check on her and usually she’s satisfied with that. I also tell her if she wakes up in the middle of the night and needs me, all she has to do is ask and I’ll come to her room. This has happened a couple times and as soon as I’ve come to her room she’s rolled over and fallen back to sleep. I want her to have the security of knowing that I am always here for her if she needs me. She seems to know this too, and I believe it’s helping her feel safe to sleep by herself.
A few mornings she’s woken up super pissed to see that I’m not in the bed! Most of the time she wakes up and I go in her room and cuddle her for a few minutes before it’s time to start the day.
At this point, I have not given into her requests for me to sleep with her. She asks but it doesn’t turn into a complete meltdown or even result in tears. Being consistent with our bedtime routine is very important and I know if I give in, even one time, it will set us back.
I am satisfied with the way she grew into independent sleep on her own. I didn’t want to force it on her, even though it took four years. I’ve seen a lot of changes toward independence in her personality lately, and I can’t help but think that it’s stemming from the overall way she has been parented, when awake and asleep.