Note from Naomi: Today's post is a guest post from Tamara, who, like me, is mum to a three year old daughter and has been blogging since March! Make sure you check out her blog over at The Epileptic Blogger!
From the moment positive popped up on my pregnancy test I had my head in pregnancy books trying to find out all the tricks and the best ways to do this whole parenting malarkey. I thought I had it all covered and that parenting would be a breeze, I couldn't have been more wrong. From the moment we left the hospital I realised that there is no set way to parent we all find a way that is best for us some people may have different views but we are certainly not doing this wrong.
I tried to get my little girl into a bedtime routine as soon as possible we never really co-slept but that is not to say I never will with my next children, Shaniah just found it better in her own bed. It didn't take long for her to settle into a routine and sleep throughout the night.
I was never one to hold her in my arms until she fell asleep but I wasn't one to leave the room until I knew she was sound either. I simply sat beside her cot and read her a story and it worked for us we had no problems.
She is now three and has the same attitude towards sleep as your average teenager does, basically she has the whole "sleep is overrated" approach. We carried on the bedtime story routine but she no longer wanted to sleep, so once I finished the story I'd tuck her in and kiss her goodnight and leave her to get herself to sleep. She would cry a little bit (not one of those cries that need cuddles but one of those cries that children often do when someone's playing with the toy that they want) at first.
I used to go up at the first sound of a cry and be all overprotective but although I couldn’t see it, it was actually making matters worse and she realised that if she made a little bit of noise I would be there. My other half on the other hand was more laid back and told me to just leave her a little while I eventually came around to his way of thinking and gave it a try after all what have I got to lose? Sure, enough the following night she let out a little whine and I stayed anxiously waiting to see if she'd settle and low and behold less than five minutes after she started she stopped and was fast asleep! It actually worked, maybe the whole leaving her thing really was a good idea. We did this every night and I didn't see anything wrong with it after all, it works for us and she wasn't hurt in anyway.
Fast forward to June of this year while on holiday with Ryan's family did I get a hint that maybe it wasn't a great idea. Ryan went out practicing his fishing every night leaving me to do the bed routine on my own which I wasn't too phased by as we had a routine, the first night we threw the routine out the window simply because we were in a place that she didn't know, everything was new to her and I totally get why she would feel unsettled. The following nights however we went back to what we knew. I put her in bed, read her a story, kissed her forehead and wished her good night, then off I went to be with the others. Shaniah did her usual cry again and like I usually do I just left it, in my mind I knew she would soon settle, but I was greeted with "Shaniah's crying" to which I responded "I know it's not a real cry and she will settle down soon enough" what came next was far from what I expected, it was a look of pure disgust, shame even.
Now everyone else in the lodge parent in a way where they stay with their child until it's asleep which I have absolutely no complaints about after all every parent is different and these is absolutely nothing wrong with that but the look made me feel as though maybe all these years I have been somewhat neglecting my child in a way? Not being there when I should have been so with those thoughts running marathons through my mind I decided to go in the room with her, when I entered her eyes were slowly closing I knew that she would soon be asleep but embarrassed about the remarks that I had just received I decided to stay with her. I led down beside her and her eyes suddenly widened she sat up and started talking. I knew there was a reason you should never change a routine and this was a clear indicator as to why! Fast forward to quarter past nine and still with an alert little girl who was clearly now way beyond the point of over tired, I was at breaking point all I wanted was for her to settle and sleep, if not for my sanity for her we had a busy day ahead and I just knew that she would be grumpy.
Ryan came home and came to the room to see why I was in there, to which I just broke down, I felt like I had let them both down we had a routine that worked and I had just screwed it up all for the sake of worrying that I was being judged. Ryan then tucked Shaniah in gave her a kiss and told me to vacate the room, I couldn't do it, it was like I reverted back to my old ways. There was no way Ryan was going to let that happen so he walked me out and sure enough Shaniah went to sleep without a peep and for the rest of that holiday and still today I am still doing that routine because it works for us all.
I guess what I am trying to say with this is that no matter how you get your little ones to sleep, whether you are a laid back parent or you like to stay with your child until they are in the land of nod, there is no right or wrong way to do this. No way is the way that we all should follow, if your child settles the way you do it then that is the right way for you. All that truly matters is that your little ones are safe and get their much needed rest - you too!