"You and I have been talking about this years. And I finally realized it's what you said. It's about making a committment.
We have been sleeping badly for four years now, since Leo was two and started coming into our bed at night, saying he was scared. I knew I should deal with it but honestly, I was just so tired during the night and it was too hard to motivate myself to deal with it.
I finally realized that it wasn't going to get better until I took action. We have friends whose 10-year-olds still come into their beds every night, especially since COVID started.
It's nice to snuggle with Leo at night but neither Seth or I sleep well.
Also, I have been doing yoga every day this summer and I am very motivated to keep it up this school year. I want to get up early and work out before work, but with Leo in our bed, I can't because I'll wake him up.
So I made the committment while we were away in Colorado, where Leo was sleeping all night in my bed because Seth wasn't there. I used the trip as a transition.
I sat Leo down and said, "Mommy and Daddy don't sleep well when you are in our bed. We have to stop this. When we go home, you'll be sleeping in your own bed the whole night." I felt like it was important to not talk too much and just keep things simple.
I tried to be very positive, and said he would get a star on a star chart every night that he slept the whole night in his own bed. After he received 7 stars, he could buy a toy of his choice.
I made sure to remind him periodically of our conversation while we were still in Colorado.
I am not going to lie. The first night was hard. He was scared by something in the Scooby Doo show he had been watching, and was sobbing. He kept saying, 'I just want to snuggle with someone and not be alone.'
I honestly don't know where I got the strength but I just kept silently walking him back to his bed. I gave him an old necklace of mine to hold and told him it gave him a force field to protect him. He's been sleeping with it ever since!
In the morning, I focused on being positive, despite all the return trips to his bed during the night. I hugged him and said, 'I am so proud of you and you are going to be so proud of yourself when you sleep the whole night in your bed.'
After the first night, things gradually got easier. There wasn't any more sobbing, but I did have to walk him back to his bed multiple times.
Once he got his toy after the seventh night, I told him that from now on, he can't come out of bed at all anymore if he wants to earn another toy [after the second set of seven nights].
What do I wish I had known? What would I tell other parents in a similar situation?
Well, I honestly don't know how I didn't cave! I felt so sad when he said those hard things. Maybe it would have helped to have a coach to plan ahead and create resolve. I did have your moral support, which helped.
The most important thing was being really clear within myself that I want this. And I do.
I feel empowered now, knowing that if we have a night where we slip up, we can get back on track. It's like missing a workout. I know how to get back on track. I won't let one night derail us. Still, I want to try to avoid slip-ups, because it’s harder to get back on track afterwards.
It’s only been a week but i am excited to keep going.
It took years of talking to you to be ready to take this leap. At six-years-old, I finally did it."
If you are in a situation like Amy's, you don't have to go it alone. And you don't have to wait six years for great sleep, either! Set up a free consult so you get great sleep, and maybe even a great yoga routine going, too.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and former NICU nurse. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.