There are some days when I can’t wait for bedtime just to have some time where I don’t have a child demanding my attention. I love being a parent; of course I do, but let’s face it, it’s hard sometimes.
That time when they go to bed is a time where I can gather my thoughts, process what has happened that day, and plan the next. It is when I can watch something that isn’t Paw Patrol, Police Interceptors, or The Little Mermaid. I use that time to work, which is also my ‘me-time’ – yes, I do love my job enough to call it me time.
But I’m never without a small child at my side. Every night since she was born, almost two years ago, Elizabeth is there, snoring gently. She’s all legs and arms now, often covered in felt tip, smelling of strawberry shampoo and the faint, sweet tang of milk. The ever-present doll is snuggled under her arm, and her hand occasionally reaches out to make sure I’m still there. Occasionally, her mouth searches for my nipple. She’s not hungry, she’s not even awake, but it’s reassuring and comforting to her.
I regularly get told that by lying by her side while she goes to sleep and staying there all night I have created a rod for my back, that she will never learn to sleep alone.
Apart from that being a total lie – I did the same with Alex and Ben, and they sleep without me now – who cares if I have created a rod? It works for us.
Those precious few moments when we are lying in bed are something I look forward to. It’s a time when it’s just us, no other distractions. She babbles away, loves having her hair stroked. As she gets older, those will be the moments where she will tell me about her day, about things she loves or is worried about.
With four children, one on one quiet time can be hard to get. Life can be crazy and noisy – which we love – but those little quiet moments are so important. That’s why I’m in no rush to change the way she falls asleep.
It might not be something that is right for everyone, but it’s right for us. I’m a firm believer in attachment parenting, no matter how old they are. I want my children to know that if they need cuddling or holding to sleep, I’m there. It doesn’t stop them from being independent; far from it. If you met my children, you would see that they are incredibly confident and independent. I think that’s because they know that if and when they need us to cuddle or hold them, we are there.
They’re only little for such a short time, and one day, she won’t want me to cuddle her to sleep or be next to her, but until then, I will be there.