I was a mom at 20, it was beautiful and rewarding. It was also hard, scary and overwhelming. Because it was so new, and none of my friends had experience either, I looked to my daughter's pediatrician for lots of advice. I searched to find the best, and with my mom's help, I found Dr. Zimmerman who is the head of pediatrics in NYU.
Each visit, he would give me tips, advise, and guidance. I'd sit there taking notes, forming opinions, and making rules for the home while he spewed his words of wisdom. All new parents read books about parenting. I think the older you are, the larger the book list. I was young and had no interest in reading up about child behavior. My doctors became my reading list.
When my daughter turned about 3, all of a sudden, I couldn't get her to stay in her bed. Chana would go to bed easily, but come 12am, there would be pitter-pattering down the hallway and she claimed space in our bed. The first time it was cute, snuggling up nose-to-nose with my cute and sleepy toddler. But night after night, she would join the master bedroom.
I remember coming into her preschool and on the chalkboard was written "We stay in our bed in the middle of the night". I was so relieved to hear that it didn't only happen to me!
At the next appointment, I discussed this with my daughter's doctor. I was practically in tears, as I already had another little baby. I needed to keep my toddler in her own bed. I was not enjoying the family baby party at 12am, 1am, or 2am. He told me that it was simple to fix: Take the child back to bed, no emotion, just guide them back to their room. If they had a nightmare, don't ask about it (as that will make it more real)! Yes, you can reassure them that it's ok, but with the least amount of emotion (ie. attention from their parents). In the beginning, I'd do the bedroom "walk-back" about 8 times in just night! The creative excuses my toddler came up to claim space in my bed were actually entertaining. Eventually, though, it worked!!
I raised my 2 older children following every rule I could. I listened to the everything the doctors said. My younger sister and friends knew that if they needed advice on their child/ren's behavior, I'd have the strict (correct!!) way to handle the issue.
Recently, though, I noticed that when I came to my bed to finally go to sleep, my 4 and 5 year old had made my bed....theirs!!
I suddenly remembered what I was supposed to be doing: put them back in their room...But after almost 12 years being a mom, I looked at my sleeping kids and loved every second of having them around. It's nice to be able to stop and enjoy every single moment. I snuggled up with them and went to bed...