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Can't get 7 year old back to his own bed.

(11 Posts)
ghosty Sun 25-Feb-07 22:54:03

Ok, we were never a 'co-sleeping' family. Not our thing. We have always encouraged our children to sleep in their own beds.
Illness/bad dreams etc always allowed to come in for a cuddle but usually we would put them back.

Anyway, as some know, DH has been working overseas since September. The long and very boring saga of why we are still not in Australia with him I will not go into now

DS has suffered greatly from this separation from his Dad. From long bouts of terrible behaviour to all fine to many tears to all fine to bad behaviour again. Very up and down and I think DH and I are dealing with it the best we can (supportive, kind but firm blah blah)

The problem is that every other Sunday (when we say goodbye to DH) DS flips out ... scared of going to bed, crying for his dad, naughty, destructive ... general testing. So usually, on that Sunday night he sleeps with me ... eventually after much toing and froing I give in and in he comes.
Sometimes next night he is back in his room, sometimes it takes a couple of nights.

But this time he has been in with me for a week now. He is sleeping really well, going to bed happy, not waking too early (which was always a problem even before DH went away) ... he is settled and seems more chilled.

Do I make him go to his own bed? Do I let him stay? I am ok with him staying (considering he is more happy and settled) but what if this backfires? Can it backfire? If so how?

I dunno, if you have read this far I thank you. I forgive you if you have switched off.
Don't know what I am asking really .... <<sigh>> it has been a tough 6 months

Tortington Sun 25-Feb-07 22:58:15

i'd say the night your dh goes away - then thats ok - but any more than that may be making things more difficult for you in the long term - and if you have any other children they may think its unfair. and see bad behaviour as the way to go

ghosty Mon 26-Feb-07 00:07:31

You are right Custy.
Just so don't want to tackle it.

ScummyMummy Mon 26-Feb-07 05:53:33

Sorry you've had such a tough time, recently, ghosty. This hasn't been an issue for us as we haven't had to cope with anyone working away at all. If one of the boys is unwell they will sleep between us in our bed so we can keep an eye and give them lots of hugs and sometimes they want to linger when they're all better but our natural selfishness and desire for sleep and adult activites fnar fnar usually means they get short shrift.

I remember 2 lots of sharing parental bed from when I was a kid though.

1) If my dad went away (fairly rare but not unknown). My sister and I took turns to share the double bed with my mum and it was the greatest treat. It was clearly understood that our own beds were where we belonged at night and this was a one off special thing that would end when he returned.

2) When my mum was suddenly hospitalised when I was around 10. I basically couldn't cope at all, got a raging ear infection and parked myself in my parents' bed for the duration of her time in hospital. I think I was allowed to stay there because it sort of suited my dad to have me to look after and it was easier for him to focus on ill child than the scary stuff happening with my mum at the time plus he was at too low an ebb and felt I was also at too low an ebb to make it an issue. I remember getting comfort from sheer physical proximity to my dad and from being in the place where my mum usually slept and in the absence of any real understanding of what was going on that was something I clung to completely. I don't recall any problems making the transition back to my own bed. I think I just thought at some level Ah phew she's back I don't have to do this any more. As an adult I wonder a lot about what was happening for my sister during that time though and where she, the stoic non ill one, was getting comfort from.

So, um, does this have any parallels for your boy? Probably not in many ways but I think the first situation was a lot healthier than the second. The second was not a question of right and wrong, imo, it was a question of family crisis mode and everyone's behaviour reflected that. I think you maybe don't want to give ds the message that you think he needs crisis support every time daddy goes away and the way to do that could be to ensure that, though his sadness is acknowledged and maybe there are a few compensatory treats, the basic rules don't change too much from normal. So maybe it'd be worth trying to make daddy going away nights big positive fanfare treat nights where you all sleep together in the big bed and have lots of cuddles and maybe have treat snacks in bed like hot chocolate with marshmallows or whatever floats your kids' boat. And then own beds the rest of the time with lots of love and support during the day (which I know you'll be doing anyway because you are fab at that.) I think that way you are giving a message that yes, it's crap daddy is not here as much as we all want but we can cope and have fun get through this and we don't need to go into crisis mode.

So, basically what custy said but I wrote an angsty essay. Lots of love, anyway and hth somehow and good luck. I hope you guys will find a way to resolve the whole working away issue soon- sounds horrible and stressful. Hope you have friends around to offer support while dh is away too.

Louise2004 Mon 26-Feb-07 06:58:11

I agree with everything that's been said - I remember going to my parents' bed when I was ill, which was a real comfort.

Our son also went through a phase of trying to sleep with us when he was 6 y.o., even though he'd always had his own room and own bed and we never encouraged him sleeping with us. In the end we left a night light on for him in his room and would put on his favourite story tape to listen to as a comfort if he did wake up and want to come in our room.

My father also made our son his own "special" tape, which he really enjoyed listening to (he thinks grandpa is the best thing since sliced bread!), so maybe that would work with you - have your husband make a story tape or write a special story for him before he leaves each time.

I'm sure he'll grow out of it, so I wouldn't worry too much about him spending the night with you - you have enough on your plate at the moment and your son's obviously also feeling the strain too, so it's more a comfort thing for him. Try and be light hearted and "grown up" about it with him, suggesting different ideas like the tapes and ScummyMummy's big night treats - let your son decide what he'd like to do, so that he feels like a "big 7 y.o." and part of the decision making process - maybe he also has some of his own ideas about staying in his own room.

Good luck

KTeePee Mon 26-Feb-07 07:18:00

If your son has been in your bed for a week now, have you given any thoughts to what you want to do about it when your dh next comes home for a visit?

Reason I am asking is that I used to know a family where the dh worked away a lot, the mother actually encouraged her ds to sleep with her when he was away (the ds was younger than yours I think) but when the dh came back the ds got turfed back into his own bed - and that caused lots of upset for the ds and resentment of his father....

So i think if you decide to leave your ds in your bed for now you need to discuss it with your dh and ensure he is happy with this continuing even when he is at home - if not, then you need to get your ds back in his own bed before your dh is next around.....

ghosty Mon 26-Feb-07 09:17:33

Gosh, such lovely messages ... most of which have made me cry - I am feeling a little pathetic at the moment ...

Scummy ... you message (very good essay, A+ ) made me smile and cry at the same time. My father travelled a lot and I used to crawl into my mum's bed regularly (don't know what the other 3 did ... but maybe because I was the youngest - ie, wimp, I got that privilege) My mother never made it an issue and if my Dad was home I didn't go to her room ..... used to get in with my sister instead

I really like your 'treat night' ... dvds and midnight feast in my bed ... for one night only ... I will definitely try that next time DH goes away.

BTW, I have had the most AMAZING support from my friends, truly, they have been fab - I am very lucky to have them

Louise, lol - DS has had a night light FOREVER but I see where you are coming from. I think the reason I have given in this week to this point is that I am so TIRED of this whole situation and I only have the energy to tread water and keep things going (dcs fed, watered, to school on time type stuff) and I feel so guilty for what we have put DS through that I have gone from kind but firm to plain jelly like 'anything for peace sake and a quiet life' and plain old "He needs me, I'm his mummy, I'm all he's got at the moment" and of course, the little toe rag has worked it all out hasn't he? ...
DD doesn't seem to care that DS sleeps in our bed ... she is always asleep by the time he goes to bed anyway.

KTPee - I see your point ... and up until now I have kept that in mind (what happens when DH comes home) so it has only been for the first night. But stupidly I have kept giving in this time because it is going to be a massive 5 weeks till we see DH this time round ...

Hermit Mon 26-Feb-07 10:00:11

Much sympathy from here too. My dh works away from home most of the time too - usually manages Saturday at home but is tired etc - so, having missed him and looked forward to seeing him all week, ds and dd end up falling out with him and feeling he doesn't 'fit'in any more.
Anyway, they both (ds 10 and dd 7) have days when they want to sleep in my bed - occasionally all 3 of us are in there. My approach has been not to make an issue of it, although I won't go to bed any earlier myself - they climb in and fall asleep waiting for me. I would rather they had a good night's sleep there than laid awake fretting and not sleeping in their own beds. So far, they have 'come out of it' on their own when they are ready and gone back to their own beds happily. Hope that helps.

Notquitegrownup Mon 26-Feb-07 10:18:58

Aw bless. So the normality is that he sleeps in his own bed, but when things are not normal, then he comes into yours. Sounds fine to me. He knows that he is there, cause Dad is away, and because he's missing him, and that he will go back to his own bed when dad comes back.

WE are a co-sleeping sort of family, but after a lot of talking to others, and answering your op, I don't think that it can backfire in the way that you are worrying. Kids are programmed to grow up and they won't want to cosleep for ever! The only real problems I have met is when the parents are the ones who are inviting the kids into bed because they prefer it, rather than following child led sleeping, and then kids can get very confused messages.

The only time I don't allow co-sleeping (which includes the kids with us, or with each other - they love to snuggle up together) is if it is stopping anyone from sleeping. They are in no doubt that nighttime is for sleeping, and if someone snores (dh) or tosses and turns and kicks everyone else (ds2) then we swap beds again!

ScummyMummy Mon 26-Feb-07 12:59:19

5 weeks is a longer time, isn't it? Poor you guys. Any prospect of things changing soon and you setting up home nearer work/him finding work nearer home?

ghosty Mon 26-Feb-07 18:16:35

We are planning to be together for good from Easter.
But it has been a long haul.

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