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Thursday 12 December 2019
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It Won’t Be Forever

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It Won’t Be Forever

Laying next to my Hurricane, my little man, watching softening, settling face, many of you would immediately perceive that I’m talking about a fussing, fretful baby or a fidgeting, fighting toddler needing just a little extra cuddle to get them off to sleep. It’s only when I reveal that our little fella is four that I can hear the sharp inhale, feel the knowing looks and battle with the ‘should’ thoughts and expectations.

He should be able to fall asleep on his own.

He should be able to sleep through the night and he should be sleeping in his own bed.

I’m not criticising ‘the should’s’, they are neither right nor wrong, I’m simply challenging and by all accounts wondering why? Why are we pushed and often pressured to conform to a ‘should?’

Our little ones are born into this world, beautiful, unique and independently strong in their own sense of self, they encounter and experience at their own rate, rhythm and rumble, different to that walked before them and separate to that who follow. Their joys, their sadness, their fun, their hardships, their laughter and their lows are individual and solely their own, so why do we then expect and ultimately create an idea of how our children should or should not be behaving when it just, for whatever reasons, isn’t right for them, it doesn’t quite fit them?

Recently a friend upon hearing of our current sleeping arrangements, coming from a place of genuine care, told us that it wasn’t normal for our four year old to still want to sleep in their parents bed, to the extent that it wasn’t healthy for any of us. It wasn’t healthy for them and it wasn’t healthy for us. In truth I was taken aback, frozen in a state of question again puzzling over a why?

Why is a child wanting comfort and contact from their parents to feel secure when they sleep considered outside the norm?

Why are we criticising and why are we judging one parents different experience from our own?

What may be perceived as normal for one doesn’t necessarily mean it is normal for another and for families and for children that too is the same.

There is no norm in childhood, there is no rule book, no instruction manual, no guide in which to say what is right or wrong.

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Our Hurricane for whatever reasons is needing that extra cocooning sense of safety from us, whether it be as a prolonged result of having had meningococcal meningitis, or perhaps in its purist form his sensitive little soul just needs that little bit of extra nurturing. I don’t have the answer, but why must I force something that, right now, isn’t coming naturally to him? It isn’t ideal. Of course I am tired and we’d love ownership of our bed back, but if this is what he needs, for the time being, then I’m happy to give it to him.

On the flip side our daughter, our Little Ray of Sunshine, is a total and completely independent sleeper, self-soothing and by all accounts frustrated if anyone interrupts her pacifying process, so we leave her to it as for her, what she needs, is complete control of her own unique way of sleeping. She is comfortable and confident in her individual and independent sleep patterns and that’s exactly what we’ve given her. She is different from her brother, her needs are comparatively different to his, but by learning from her cues and listening to what her idea of the perfect nights sleep is, she is fitting into her own specific norm.

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They are only small for so long and while it may feel like a marathon this is only a short sprint. There will come a time where he no longer reaches for me, where my need for a cuddle or contact will surpass his own, and I know I’ll miss it. I know my heart will ache for these tougher times when our special bond was so close, where contact and connection where needed to help him navigate and grow. It won’t be forever. I’m going to let them lead, let them show me what they need to feel safe, to feel supported and to feel secure. There is no should and there is no norm there are simply genuine, pure and uncertain little souls just trying and testing their footing on this great big journey and that extra time, that extra cuddle, for as long as they need it, I’ll be there with open arms.

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Laura Sheehan

Laura Sheehan is an early childhood teacher and Perth based mum of two to Brody aka 'The Hurricane' and Daisy aka 'Little Ray of Sunshine.' Laura hosts a small blog The Whole Mummy looking at all things Mummy, the good, the bad and the ugly with brutal truth and honesty. Laura works closely with the Meningitis Centre Australia, having nearly lost her Hurricane to Meningococcal B Meningitis, as well as the Stillbirth Foundation Australia due to the heartbreaking stillborn loss of her second son Beau. Laura, along with her former Wallaby husband and their family aim to promote awareness of these two tragedies, offering support and encouraging greater understanding of each. They are ambassadors for both the Men Centre and The Stillbirth Foundation You can follow and learn more about Laura's story on her blog thewholemummy.com and her social media (Instagram and facebook links).


6 thoughts on “It Won’t Be Forever

  1. AvatarSarah

    I totally agree with you! I decided to go with my own thoughts about sleeping and children – and from the day my two children were born they slept with us. Now 8, my son will sleep in his own bed all night – sometimes – and my daughter, 6, mostly still sleeps with one of us. I think night-time security has helped them to grow into the happy, confident, balanced children that they are today. I think it is a very abnormal society that puts babies into a dark room, swaddled so they are unable to move and stretch naturally and start strengthening their muscles, by themselves for upwards of 10 hours and think that an electronic monitor is sufficient, plus have those babies cry themselves to sleep. I always felt it cruel!

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  2. AvatarDebbie

    Our son is turning 4 in a couple months and he still co sleeps. He’s the only one of 4 children to do so. I’ll miss it when he stops but he needs it. So I’ll enjoy the extra snuggles and won’t listen to anything else. They grow way too quick to worry about it

    Reply
  3. AvatarKrissy

    Thank you! My 7 year old boy still wakes up at night and quietly sneaks in to my side and whispers “Mama, I cant sleep, can I just sleep here with you?” to me IT IS PRICELESS!! My older daughter–she used to but not anymore. I agree…”There is no norm in childhood, there is no rule book, no instruction manual, no guide in which to say what is right or wrong.”

    Reply
  4. AvatarL. Jackson

    My daughter did the same after she had pneumonia at 3yrs of age she had a rough few days in hospital and took her a month or 2 before she would sleep on her own again. Thry just need time to get back to there old self again after being sick.

    Reply
  5. AvatarChelle

    My now 13yo daughter was seriously ill when she was 5-10 years old. Now mostly well, she occasionally has trouble sleeping and I will still crawl into bed with her to soothe her. I don’t care! If she needs me I am there. I don’t care where she sleeps – as long as she’s getting the sleep she needs to keep her going. A snuggle with mum is far better than being wiped out and looking for ‘other’ options to stay awake or make her feel better, especially when you look at the drug scene available so easily to kids these days. She knows it not ‘normal’ but like I tell her, if she needs me to hold her hand to make her feel better when she’s 33, I’ll still do it in a heartbeat. Be firm with them, teach them right from wrong but most of all, love them in whatever way they need. Regardlees of age, we are still their parents and they will always be our babies xx

    Reply
  6. AvatarMLee

    I totally agree with you. My little one started like your daughter but then she turned 2yrs old and her dad got a job o/s for 6mths. So she started needing me at night to fall asleep.
    When hubby came back he wasn’t happy with this arrangement and after 6mths of my resistance we forced her to sleep on her own. It was tough for her & I. But I am grateful for that extra time after she’s asleep to myself/hubby. However if she wakes during the night… I’m there to give her the cuddles which I’ve noticed is getting less and less… they’re only young & needy for such a short time. Cherish it.

    Reply

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