Like lots of parents, hubby and I have fallen into the routine of having our oldest son in our bed. He falls asleep in his own room, but inevitably ends up with us at some point through the night.
There have been a few attempts in the last 3 years (yes, this has been going on since he was a little over 2years old) at getting him to stop coming in, but it always ended up in tears and fights and we would give up.
If your reading this, chances are your looking for help in this area also. So keep reading - but be warned, you have to follow through. It may be tough, there might be some sleepless nights for a few days as everyone gets used to the new sleeping arrangements, but it will come.
Now please, don't get me wrong - I don't think kids NEED to sleep in their own beds. I think every family does what they are comfortable with, and as long as it is working for your family, then there isn't an issue. However, it wasn't working for our family anymore, which is why we decided to pursue it.
First off, we talked to him before bed about the new arrangements. We told him that he has his own room, his own bed so he needed to sleep in it from now on. I told him that if he woke up and needed mommy, he could come and get me but that I would be taking him back to his own room. Then, I told him that if he came into my bed and I didn't realize it, as soon as I awoke he would be taken back to his room.
Knowing that this was a big adjustment for him, I did give him a little incentive. I told him that if he could sleep in his own bed, every night, then we could pick 1 night a week for a sleepover in HIS room. He chose Sunday nights.
Now, the first night he did end up in our bed (he wasn't there for very long, but he was still asleep in our bed) so last Sunday he didn't get his sleepover. However, that was the only night - as of now, 1 week in, he hasn't slept in our bed at all. He will sometimes wake up and come get me, and then I just tuck him back in to his own bed.
So here are my tips:
1) make sure to give them warning, and mention a few times before they go to sleep how it will be
2) if they wake, follow through with what you told them would happen (walking back, keep talking to a minimum)
3) when the morning comes, make sure to make a huge deal about how well they did the night before!
4) make sure to keep following through each night, and to keep praising them in the morning
5) if your going to make an exception, make sure it is set out clearly BEFORE it happens (ie, if they are sick with a fever then they can sleep in your bed etc. Be prepared for the negotiations to start afterwards though, and ready to follow through again)
We have been really lucky, and he hasn't fought me at all when I have been taking him back to his room. The 3rd night was our worst, with FIVE wake ups/walk backs...but most nights it is just once...and we even had one night that he slept the entire night in his room!
I would love to hear any tips that you might have - please leave me a comment with your own experiences!
It's been 2.5 months or so and I am so happy to say that 6 out of 7 nights, he sleeps the entire night. Once a week he appears next to me - but all he needs is for me to walk him back and tuck him in! So happy with the progress he has made. It has allowed for a HUGE improvement in his behaviour also!