CONFESSION OF A GUILTLESS
AND WELL-RESTED MOMMY
I have a confession to make and I know many of you will identify with what I am about to share with you. I, Julie Cloutier, lay down next to my 5 year old son every night to help him fall asleep. There, I said it and it feels so great!
Why aren’t I feeling that common pang of guilt or embarrassment like most parents do when they have been outed on sleeping alongside their child? Because I know in my heart that I am giving my child what he needs right now.
Hundreds of books have been written about sleep, co-sleeping, sleep and breastfeeding, trying to get an infant, toddler or preschooler to sleep, and the like. It can be so overwhelming! It can be especially overwhelming when you are sleep-deprived and trying to sift through all this “sleep help” 😉
In my opinion, parents need to provide a nourishing environment for their child. If parents can manage to provide their child with the sense that the world is a safe place while their child tries to sleep in a room down the hall then, OK, do it that way. If the child’s behavior does not demonstrate a sense that the world is safe sleeping on their own, then parents will find that they need to revise their methods to provide that safe and secure feeling within their household.
In my case, I haven’t brought my son into my bed unless he was sick. However, like most children, he likes me to lay down with him until he falls asleep. This is the time of the day where he is the most relaxed and will really talk about serious things that are on his mind. It’s an opportunity not to be missed! Right now, his over-imaginative mind is worried that a fire truck will zoom by with its loud sirens (which unfortunately happens quite often on my street), or that he will have a bad dream, or that some icky monster has taken up residency in his closet.
If children want to be close to you, why deny the opportunity for connecting with them? Growing up can be scary and wonderful and challenging. Even a nine-year-old is still pretty little in my opinion.
I know that I could be doing 100 other things around the house instead of lying next to my son, but what’s more important: laundry or him? I’ve learned how to cut through the clutter and drama inside my mind and remain with only the essentials: a calm heart and gratitude. Within that quiet, I can see what truly matters; like watching one of my slumbering not-so-little-anymore babes. These are the moments that remind us to inhale a little deeper, to melt into the exhales, to remember that on the other side of those parenting growing pains, failures and frustrations, there are moments like this — ripe with simplicity and gratitude.
There is something that touches us deeply when we watch our children sleep. Their breathing is rhythmic and deep. Their faces and bodies are relaxed. There is a stillness that envelops us. We can take this time to breathe deeply and relax. This is a wonderful time to soak in this feeling of calm. It is a feeling that we want to call to mind when we are with our children at more hectic times.
Childhood is such a short time and being open to just being there and being available gives children such comfort.
And another small confession; sometimes, I fall asleep next to him and get a little extra sleep time. And who doesn’t need extra sleep?