If you find at times you resent doing something for your child, this one is especially for you.
*Feel free to change sleep to eating, potty training or really any new skill you are facing challenges with*
I hope you had a brilliant mother’s day and had all of your own needs and desires met. It just happened I received my present from my son’s school that inspired today's post. Let me show you.
It says, “I love you because you lay down with me at bedtime.” Ah, this melted my heart and brought me tears. You see, bedtime had been a struggle for us for many years. My son insisted we tend to him through all hours of the night, leaving both myself and my husband beyond sleep deprived and on the border of depression. We tried for so long to be “attached” parents, until we learned how to honor our needs while still meeting our son’s demands.
Even when not ill, B requires our attention, comfort and physical closeness at bedtime… (and first thing in the morning, too.) Filling this needs helps him know he is safe, loved and provides a sense of connection that fills his emotional need tank. Without having these requirements met, B will wake and ask for attention through the night. So we do our best throughout the day and during the evening to make sure we accomplish these goals so everyone can rest peacefully at night.
And that includes laying down with him at bedtime! But wait, so many of you say when you lay down with your child at night until they fall asleep, it promotes night wakings and the need to do this each and every time they wake and you’re spot on! For many children, when you are there throughout the entire process, the child demands you to be them like routine at each full arousal. So how did we learn to honor our necessity of sleep?
The process is finding balance. I meet my son’s needs by laying with him until he’s close to falling asleep. Dependent on his energy level, this may mean 2-3 minute or sometimes longer, closer to 10 minutes. I also give him a heads up by saying, “I’ll lay with you for 3 minutes and then I’ll be meditating on the floor until you’re asleep.” On a scale of 1-10, I lay with him until he’s past a 6 or if we had a “rough” day, closer to an 8 and then make sure he’s taking care of his own needs to do the rest, learning independence and security in his own ability while I’m still close enough for comfort. It’s this process that taught him to feel secure in going back to sleep through most all of his night wakings. And thus, honoring my need for sleep while still meeting his demand for physical closeness at bedtime.
If I had to guess how we would finish the sentence, I love you because…. this wouldn’t have been on the top of my list. And yet it’s so directly related to my work in helping parents get the sleep they need while meeting the needs of their family, it is so fitting. It was one of those magical moments that let me know I’m on the right path in life and parenting. That is the best mother’s day present I receive.
If you aren’t struggling with sleep but having another “pain” with your child, this “almost there” concept can be translated to almost any situation. When you meet your child’s demands but also honor your own needs, it creates a two way relationship that fosters growth and grounding for everything. In learning how to step back consciously while being respectful to your child during the moments that bring you the most stress, you’ll find parenting becomes easier and more enjoyable.
I’d love to hear your stories - how do you meet your child’s demands while honoring your own unique needs and desires?
Much love to you and your family,