About a year ago I wrote about how my eldest daughter Noemi (3 years and 6 months old at that time) felt it was the right time to move to her own room. As soon as we got to know we were expecting again I felt this urge to prepare her room so that she could be settled before another member joined the family! As soon as all was ready, she told me: “don’t wish to go in my room yet, ma”.
My first thought was to insist because time was running out but I decided to tell her: “ok dear, no problem, your room is ready for you, when you feel like, we just need to move the bed and you’re done.”
A month later I asked her whether she was ready to give it a try and she said, “yes ma, we could give it a try.” She was excited that she was going to sleep on her own! She was indeed ready! We moved her bed, prepared the night lights and rehearsed her way in the dark to our room just in case she needed anything during the night and she felt safe! She was happy and proud to sleep in her own room and this confirms that waiting for them to be ready and trusting their instincts is the best way. We only need to lead them and then let them decide for themselves.
Fast forward to what happened a little while after. New baby came about two months later and during the first week, Noemi had mixed feelings about whether to stay in her room or come back to sleep with us. She used to come in the middle of the night for anything. Then after about a week she told us that she wanted to sleep with us and no more in her room. A parent’s natural reaction would be a blunt ‘no’ maybe or try to bargain with her to go back. I was tempted to, to be honest since I still was very tired myself from this new experience!
We will wait again for her right time because it makes life for everyone easier with less arguments and less power struggles over something that after all is beautiful
After some thinking we decided to listen instead of acting. I asked her why she wished to do so and with an open heart she told us that she loves her baby sister and she wishes to sleep near her. Oh, I told myself, if I would have not listened, I would have assumed that she is fishing for attention since now there was a new baby! But it wasn’t the case! To the contrary it was a bonding opportunity for all of us and for them to start getting to know each other as siblings.
We were touched by her innocence and will to love someone she didn’t choose to have after all. What I want to say is, that many times listening before assuming is so much important with children! They can surprise us so much!
Today, almost ten months after the birth of our baby she still does sleep in our room on a mattress of her own but we have no problem with that. She wishes to go back to sleep in her room together with her sister. That is her plan and her ideal situation. Yet again, this is another bonding opportunity that she is looking forward to share with her and we can’t miss it. We will wait again for her right time because it makes life for everyone easier with less arguments and less power struggles over something that after all is beautiful She cares for her sister, she wants her close and she is telling us that she loves her dearly and we cannot possibly ignore this for the sake of carrying on with our plans!
We had and still have difficult days when she would clearly want more attention and where I would be tired of listening and trying to understand. On the other hand this experience proved that we need to:
- Listen and understand our own children
- Value and respect what they have to say
- Let go of our own plans
- Accept changes
- And do what feels best for our families because each child is unique and so their needs do not fit in the same
Hope this helps parents who are struggling with some behaviours at the moment… parenting is tiring and many times all you want is carry on with the day and finish all your tasks. But sometimes we need to stop and listen just like we would want others to listen to us too!