Monday, September 19, 2011

Sleeping and Crying

Jonas came into bed with me last night.   He has done so on and off since his very first night here in this house as a newborn.  All of our children have always had their own bed, for independance, and have always been welcomed into Mom and Dad's bed for many other reasons.  Ease of night-time feedings, extra snuggles, mid-night comforting, and family bonding. 


 The last time Jonas came to bed with us in the night was about two months ago.  At that point he was coming nightly--if not two times each night.  Wyatt, it seemed, was trading off with him, coming once or twice a night at the opposite hours.  Also, the both of them were having trouble going to sleep as well, Wyatt was screaming and crying himself to sleep (whether I was holding and rocking him or not), and Jonas wouldn't fall asleep without Jeremy and I laying in bed with him for 30-60 minutes.   I was about done with it all, but of course the whole situation is of our own making--right?  We made the bed--now sleep in it! 

Well, I was tired of sleeping in it.  So I made a bunch of changes, moved rooms around, disassembled bunks, put up and took down pack-n-plays and attempted to completely overhall our sleeping arangements while causing minimal amounts of crying and distress.

Now two months later we are breathing (or sleeping) free.  Jonas and Wyatt keep each other company at bedtime so that neither of them are lonely.  (And Wyatt doesn't provide the excess amount of "company" that Owen was providing --keeping Jonas wound up all night never sleeping if we weren't laying with him.) Surprisingly night wakings for both boys have significantly decreased since the change.  And Owen is in his own room with a bit more responsibility and independence.  He has a lamp and is allowed to read for 15 minutes before turning out his light and going to bed.

One evening last year I sat in a home as an invited guest, hearing a middle-aged man give advice, about just letting babies cry to sleep--that it works and simplifies life. 

I didn't have a lot to add to that conversation in an attitude of not wanting to contradict my host. The truth is--I don't not let my babies cry.  In fact sometimes I think crying is a valid way of releasing frustration.  But I don't believe in just letting my children cry as a rule.

 I accept that when I am not able or willing to meet every desire of my children, in the moment they feel it, that there will be some crying involved, and I am ok with that--as a part of helping my children know that the entire world doesn't revolve around their whims.  Allowing our children to cry is showing respect for their feelings of disappointment or frustration--letting them know that we believe that they are having very strong feelings rather than just "shush"ing and bouncing them immediately away.  However; in my maidenhood dreaming of one day having children  I didn't plan on having children so that I could just leave them to cry alone in their room.

What I dreamt of was snuggles and hugs, and cuddles and kisses.  So I don't, as a rule, just let my kids cry.  But that is the benefit of being a parent, we understand our children best and don't have to chain ourselves to one person or anther's advice on the "best" way to raise children.  We make our decisions one child at a time, and one naptime at a time.  Which for us means that sometimes there's crying, but always there's love and security. 

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