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To think that a 9 year old...

(86 Posts)
MadHattersWineParty Wed 26-Nov-14 10:09:29

Should be sleeping through the night in their own bed?

I work as a nanny/PA for a woman who is often away on business trips. She's a single parent and has a nine year old daughter, with whom I have a great bond.

When my boss is at home the daughter sleeps in bed with her. Her own room is mainly just her dressing room. The issue is at the moment I'm staying over while her Mum is on business in the US, and she will not sleep unless she's in with me. I am a light sleeper and she's a particularly fidgety one who takes up a lot of space, and besides that I would prefer to have a bed to myself after a long day. She's obviously not a baby but she becomes unsettled when I try to encourage her to sleep in her own room, cries and says she misses her mum. The mum has also specifically asked me to let her sleep in my bed so she's not lonely during the night.

It's been a week now and I'm shattered. I've hardly had any sleep. I am being very patient towards her. I don't want her to be upset. She's absolutely fine during the day, it's only night time when the problems start. I've tried being with her in her own bed until she falls asleep but she will always without fail wake up in the small hours and come looking for me when she finds she's alone. Then she'll have a bit of a cry so we'll have a cuddle and she gets back to sleep but I don't. I have PA duties during the day before I pick her up from school so it's not like I can get any rest then.

Not expecting any magic solutions, but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I don't have DC so I guess I want to understand if this is normal, what others would do in this situation. Thanks.

skylark2 Wed 26-Nov-14 10:13:41

I think it's very inappropriate for an employee to be sharing a bed with a 9 year old.

But why is it only an issue now, if her mum is often away? Is this a new job?

asmallandnoisymonkey Wed 26-Nov-14 10:16:08

I think you're being put in a very awkward position with this and I wouldn't be happy with it either

Bowlersarm Wed 26-Nov-14 10:17:04

Could you sleep on a mattress on the floor? Or could she.

WeirdCatLady Wed 26-Nov-14 10:17:06

I'd have a word with her mom. Whatever she wants to do with her own daughter is fine, but it is very weird to ask you to sleep with her (I would think it places you in a very precarious position). I would explain that you won't be doing it in future.

APlaceInTheWinter Wed 26-Nov-14 10:17:10

In theory yy they should be sleeping in their own bed but all families are different and it sounds as though this is what works for them. I think it's tricky, as a nanny and employee, if you agreed you'd let her sleep in your bed and now are trying to change that.

If you're looking for tips to get her to settle and stay in her own bed then lie beside her until she falls asleep and then before you go into your own bed, put something in the bed beside her (a large teddy, a rolled up blanket). Some DCs will self-settle if they feel as though someone is lying beside them. It's the absence that startles them fully awake iyswim

Another option would be to make it a game and set up beds on the floor or put two beds side-by-side if there is room. She doesn't want to be alone but probably doesn't need you to be in the same bed just close enough that she could hold your hand and/or see you if she wakes.

MadHattersWineParty Wed 26-Nov-14 10:17:37

Not a new job, i've been with her for ten months. This is the first time she's been away longer than a couple of days though. It was easier when it wasn't for long. I was hoping to be able to work with her at getting her to sleep through in her own bed but this hasn't worked.

NoSundayWorkingPlease Wed 26-Nov-14 10:21:42

I think it's time for a 'big girl chat'. On a regular basis, 9 is too old to co sleep IMO.

First of all, I'd speak to her about her bedroom and see if there's anything that's putting her off sleeping alone - is it too dark, would a higher wattage lamp help? Does she feel uncomfortable with the door closed, in which case it needs to start being left open etc.

Then I think it's just a case of sitting her down and explaining that at her age she must start sleeping in her bed...maybe an 'older' version of a star chart, with a reward for every night she sleeps in her bed.

Seeing as this has gone on so long, I'd probably start gently and insist that she must go to sleep in her own bed, but that if she wakes she can come in. Then maybe introduce a clock, and she can only come in after 3am/5am/getting gradually later.

bodhranbae Wed 26-Nov-14 10:21:44

I would tell the mother that you are not happy with this arrangement - for all manner of reasons.

Poor child. Very sad that she feels so lonely.
Does she have a pet? A dog? A constant companion. Getting a dog who slept in my room helped me enormously when I was a kid.

WooWooOwl Wed 26-Nov-14 10:23:19

I don't think it's that bad that a child shares a bed with a parent, but it is incredibly irresponsible of a parent to allow that situation to become a child's normality when they aren't going to be there to cover it.

I think you will have to talk to your employer when she returns and tell her that you won't be able to share a bed with her child anymore, so she will either have to find a new nanny altogether, find someone else to cover nights, or that she needs to train her child up to be able to sleep on her own.

A nine year old will be going on residential school trips soon if she hasn't already, how does she/will she cope with that. This mother isn't doing her child any favours with this.

MadHattersWineParty Wed 26-Nov-14 10:24:57

Thank you for your help so far. She has two dogs, bodhranbae. They sleep in the bed. She still wakes and says she feels sad and wants comfort from me.

skylark2 Wed 26-Nov-14 10:25:53

So this child

can't go on any residential school trips
can't go on any sleepovers
can't have any friends round to sleepover
can't go and stay with a relative overnight

That's not fair on her.

It's not that sharing a bed with her mum is wrong, it's that she's completely dependent on it.

MrsItsNoworNotatAll Wed 26-Nov-14 10:27:37

I think the mother is expecting a bit much from you. If she chooses to let her daughter sleep in her bed with her that's up to her but to even be ok with you doing the same just seems odd to me.

Dh hates sharing the same bed as me sometimes but that's down to the fact that I fidget, toss and turn and trump a lot blush

CatsCantTwerk Wed 26-Nov-14 10:33:01

Could you put her to sleep in your bed then you sleep in hers?

MadHattersWineParty Wed 26-Nov-14 10:36:17

I have tried that, CatsCantTwerk, but she always wakes and comes to find me.

Writerwannabe83 Wed 26-Nov-14 10:41:04

My sister's 9 year old son sometimes creeps into her bed at night and the rule is that he's allowed to stay for 5 minutes then he must go back to his own room. She said it was hard at first (and tiring having to keep getting up through the night to take him back to his bed) but that since he's learnt he can't actually spend the night with his mom the number of times he appears in her bedroom has reduced dramatically!!

WeirdCatLady Wed 26-Nov-14 10:42:13

It's really not your role to sleep train (or whatever the term is). But you really shouldn't be co-sleeping with this child.

Her mother isn't doing her any favours by encouraging this.

skylark2 Wed 26-Nov-14 10:59:00

"I have tried that, CatsCantTwerk, but she always wakes and comes to find me."

That must have been weird for you with two dogs in there - or did you put the dogs in your own bed? confused

I think you need to wait until her mum gets home (it can't be long, can it?) and then say you won't do this again. I appreciate the kid misses her mum, but there doesn't seem to be much saying no going on. She's not a toddler. If she's lonely then she should have five minutes of reassurance and then go back to her own bed.

MadHattersWineParty Wed 26-Nov-14 11:09:28

Skylark2- she will only actually fall asleep if she has me and the dogs with her. So we all pile into my bed usually, I stay with her till she's asleep, then when it's time for me to go to bed I usually go in to find her spread out in the middle so i'll either attempt to drop off in whatever space is left, or go into her bed, but sleep really lightly knowing it'll only be a matter of time before she comes in to find me.

I am at the point when I want to be insisting that she sleeps in her own room as I'm getting tired of this, but it's not really my place to make these changes.

Her mum is back in five days.

moxon Wed 26-Nov-14 11:12:51

Wow. Weird. I'd second the mattress on the floor idea - for her, in your room. You obviously need to sleep in the bed.

RiverTam Wed 26-Nov-14 11:22:29

I would contact the mum now and tell her the situation is untenable, and if she is unable to return then she needs to arrange something different, and in the long term she needs to get this sorted out.

Nearly 5yo DD loves coming into our bed, but we just can't have it, neither DH or I get any sleep, so she's allowed in for a 5 minute cuddle, then back to her bed, which is disruptive enough, but it's precisely the situation you describe that makes me insist that she sleeps in her own room. She's an only child so of course it's hard if she says she's lonely or whatever, but it has to be done (and, FWIW, she hardly comes in at all these days, though she's very much looking forward to having her bed in our room when her cousins come to stay grin).

MindReader Wed 26-Nov-14 11:27:29

I have a child who has found sleep alone hard.

I ALWAYS make them start off in their own bed.
I will stay with them till they sleep if needed.

If they come in in the night I will sometimes decamp to their bed but leaving a rolled up duvet in my place so they don't twig I've gone till morning as I don't sleep well otherwise.

It sounds like you've been doing all the practical things I've been doing over the last few years to help encourage independence.

As others have said, by this age you want them to cope well with sleepovers and school residentials etc and not be dependent on mum at nighttime.

I feel sorry for the child. Clearly her Mum's business trips are affecting her sense of security.

But it is QUITE unfair to you and frankly irresponsible for Mum to be asking any employee to share a bed with her 9 year old shock

NeDeLaMer Wed 26-Nov-14 11:29:33

Another five days? You're going to on your knees by then! Are the PA duties for the Mum or someone else? If they're for the Mum I'd tell her that anything non urgent isn't getting done because you need to sleep, that whilst she might be able to sleep when her DD is with her, you can't. If it's a different job I guess lots of coffee and healthy food! Cope as best you can.

My friends DD, who is also 9, sleeps with her every night too. They go to bed at the same time etc. She's totally fine on school residentials, brownie camps, sleepovers etc. I guess because they're still room sharing. I've babysat her at her house a few times and it takes her a while to settle (but then I was like that as a child and never co slept ) I'm not sure what she'd be like if I was staying over, she might want to sleep with me, but I'd be fine with that if she did...but not for nights on end because I'm a light sleeper too and don't sleep well when the kids get into my bed.

Do you know when her mum is next scheduled to go away?

Marcipex Wed 26-Nov-14 11:30:39

I think it is your place to make these changes.

You are the one suffering from this ridiculous arrangement. And so, long-term, is the child.

I work with children, I cuddle them, I change them, I might swing them about, I wouldn't consider co-sleeping with them.

It's massively inappropriate.

GoodKingQuintless Wed 26-Nov-14 11:31:21

You cant be both a day and night nanny to a child that keeps you awake almost like a new born would.

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