I’ve always wanted to have a close relationship to my child before I had even considered having kids. I always knew I was going to treat them with unrequited love and affection that I had been denied when I was a child (see my Instagram highlight TW: ABUSE). So naturally as a parent for almost three years I am bound to want to give my child the world, to make her feel safe and happy and to make her feel loved constantly.
But obviously there are stipulations to this. I cannot, for example, continuously give her what she wants all the time. I cannot be there all the time and she isn’t going to be happy all the time. My point? She wants me to provide these things… all the time.
Separation anxiety is common with dogs and kids. I have been fortunate to experience both. Isn’t that nice? Dogs seem to get over it a lot quicker apparently…
However, with my little cherub, COVID seems to have exacerbated the need to be with Mummy constantly. Perfect when you just want to have a poo in peace. But where does COVID come in? Am I just making excuses for my overly soft parenting? Most likely. But hear me out.
Instead of being able to sit in a room with other friends and family members, she is in a room with me. She isn’t seeing other kids her age play with each other and being perfectly fine without mummy or daddy by their side. Ava is witnessing no other activity outside of our home.
Other than a couple of nights at her grandparents (so I can work two days a week), Ava wakes up with me and goes to bed with me. She plays with me all day, eats with me (IF she lets me eat as that seems to be a trigger too lately), sings and dances with me. I get her dressed, take her to her potty, give her her baths and put her to bed. Does she have a break from being with me? Nope, not really. Jesus Christ, she’s even started asking to come home to see me when at the in-laws which she NEVER used to do.
Quick side note: Paul works full time from home and spends a considerable amount of time with Ava. He also deals with the dogs, does all the DIY, cooking and most of the tidying up (when Ava is here, otherwise cleaning is MY job as I love it). Therefore, please don’t jump to the conclusion he does nothing, because he does. Some changes are being made soon which I will mention further down.
NIGHT TIME SEPERATION
When Ava was suffering from occasional night terrors and awful teething pains in November/December 2020 I would hold her in my bed until she was asleep. Friends and family would tell me “that’s a bad habit.”
However, I quite enjoyed it. I would explain it doesn’t happen often and I want her to feel better so if that’s how to do it, then so be it. Plus who wants to sit next to a toddler bed in the middle of the night, half asleep in the hope she goes to sleep and won’t notice me leaving? That’s right, no one. Therefore, my nice warm double bed was the ideal place to comfort her. Alas it did become a bad habit. It probably would’ve been fine if she didn’t wake at 4am and insist to go downstairs and then be a stroppy cow because she’s overtired. But here we are. That’s when it’s stopped being a nice experience.
In January 2021, Ava decided to start getting out of her bed whenever I left her to sleep. I resorted to the Mission Impossible method of leaving the room. After a few hours of me being asleep I hear the sound of little fit running around, towards mine and Paul’s bedroom door. She wanted to pursue “mummy’s bed.” Poor Daddy (I say that sarcastically) would sleep in the spare room and I started the Bad Habit.
THREE WEEKS LATER…
After three weeks of Ava sleeping with me every night (and sleeping perfectly well at her Grandparents, in her own bed) I am tired. Emotionally and physically. Some nights she sleeps amazingly. But others, not so well. The more tired I get the harder it is to stand my ground.
I have tried a few things in order to encourage her to sleep in her own goddamn bed…
I attempted to make her bedroom more inviting.
We started using a night light.
We’ve stopped the night light.
I’ve tried different sleep sounds.
We even stopped the sleep sounds.
I attempted leaving the room straightaway and putting her back to bed 30 times. This method just caused the both of us to have a breakdown.
So where am I now?
After a day of crying because Ava and I were both tired and she wouldn’t even let me make her a drink, I asked my in-laws to have her whilst I cleared my head. Paul and I discussed what could be causing this and obviously a big part of it is that I give in a lot. I also am with her the majority of the time so things need to change.
IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE
Ava has always wanted me doing pretty much everything and rejected Paul. Believe me he has tried to take on responsibility but in the end I just took over.
That shit is done.
And honestly Paul is all for it. It can’t be nice. You’re trying to get your child dressed or trying to give her a bath and she just screams for Mummy. It’s not nice for any of us in fact. I find it hard just sitting there listening to her cry for me, hence why she has been sleeping with me for a month instead of my husband.
It’s also going to give me the opportunity to do the jobs Paul is usually accustomed to doing.
The plan to reduce separation anxiety….
- Bath times is Paul’s job now. We’ll start it together and then after a while I’ll leave him to it, just so the change isn’t a shock to her. Kids are really sensitive aren’t they? Jeez.
- Paul is going to control outings and playtimes. Paul and Ava are now going to go for walks alone and play with me in a different room. This is so Ava can start getting used to me not being there all the time. Usually we do all of this as a group or with just me whilst Paul is working.
- I ordered a weighted blanket. I use one and I love it. Obviously that means Ava uses it too when she’s in my bed and has no issues with it. I believe when I stopped putting her in a sleeping bag, she stopped sleeping so well. I’m hoping the blanket gives her the same comfort. But we shall see…
- I need to stop giving in so easily. If she gets upset that I’m leaving the room, I often to stay with her. Now I’m going to explain to her what I’m doing, tell her I will be back soon and get on with it. If she loses her shit and won’t calm down then so be it. If she smashes the place up I’m going to have to enforce “The Sorry Step” which I have used a few times. The Sorry Step is when she has done something wrong and not listened after the count of 3. I sit with her there so she can think about her actions. She will then tell me that she’s sorry and we hug it out.
- No more playing in our bedroom. Ava has a toy box in our room and also likes relaxing on our bed in the afternoon but I’m going to put an end to that so she doesn’t keep assuming it’s her bedroom.
- No more sleeping in our bed. In order to reduce her need to be with me I think her sleeping in her own bed will help. In order to do this she needs to self settle and stop expecting me to be with her whilst she falls asleep. Which means I am going to enforce the below sleeping method.
THE TAKE AWAY
I need to be a stronger parent, not necessarily stricter. It’s possible (as every mum I’ve ever met has proven) that I can still be a loving and caring Mum whilst setting rules. I need to let Paul get more hands on and swap duties so that Ava get’s used to it not being me all the time.
I’ll keep you updated! Check out my IG stories as I’m sure to discuss more on there!