Even if you had a nursery from the beginning, or put your child in his own room at an early age, it’s not unusual to have a little one come running to mom and dad’s bed at night or insist on sleeping between you in your bed.
But privacy is essential for a healthy relationship. You won’t ever feel relaxed and able to enjoy sex if you are worried about your child seeing something you would prefer them not to know about. A lot depends on your child’s personality and how firm you are, but there are steps you can take to get your bedroom back from your kids.
Create A Child Friendly Space
Make your child’s room a fun place. Let them feel grown up because they get to be in their own room (or share a room with a sibling). Do everything you can to ensure your child feels comfortable in their room and likes the idea of sleeping there at night.
- If they want to help with the decor or design of the room, let them have a say.
- Make sure the bed isn’t so large that they feel lost and alone, but also not so small that they wake up because they are too big for it.
- Avoid anything which might spook them out at night. Glow in the dark sticker stars might seem like a good idea, but could scare very young children. Sometimes a poorly placed chair or cabinet can look like a monster to a child’s eye in the dark.
- If they need a small light, provide that.
- Take your child’s fears seriously. If she doesn’t like the way the curtains blow in the wind, open them or tie them down. If he would rather the door stay open, make allowances for that.
Make Your Bedroom Uninteresting
While you’re working on the transition, do all you can to make your bedroom as “adult” as possible. Put away things that would seem interesting or fascinating to a child. If you or your husband have collections, such as dolls, cars, vintage planes, or similar, keep them in a place where the child can see them as desired, such as the living room. Makeup is fascinating for little girls so consider keeping it in the bathroom for a while. If your room looks boring to a child, they won’t want to spend so much time in there.
Spend Time With Your Child In Their Room
Be with your young children while they get ready for bed and just before sleep in their room. Don’t make your room the gathering place before bed. If you have a few kids and they like to be together before bed, meet in one of the kid’s rooms. Have your bed prep, quiet games, or stories in one of their beds. If needed, rotate the rooms around, or be in the youngest child’s room so the older ones can get to their own rooms alone. Teach them to respect your room; it’s a place for mom and dad, not children.
If your children feel secure before going to sleep, they’ll be more content to stay in their own room, giving you the privacy you need. A good half-hour is needed to get children into bed comfortably, in some cases more.
The longer you wait to move a child into his own room, the harder it can be to get him to stay there.
While many parents prefer to keep their baby in their room, there will come the time to move the child out. Only you, as a parent, know the time when this is right. You don’t want to sacrifice your privacy and your marriage because you keep your child in your room for years.
Use a baby monitor if you worry about safety and move a child out early. After all you already put the baby to bed before you retire for the night so why do you need to be there all night.
If it’s too late for that and your child is at an age when explanation and reasoning work, you can make it clear at a neutral time that he or she is a big boy or girl now and isn’t it good that they can now have their very own room to sleep in. This will help your child want to make that transition.
Move Out Step By Step
At first, your child will probably want you to stay in his room until he’s fallen asleep. You can make the adjustment easier by agreeing to stay in their room but gradually moving out. For the first few nights, your child might want you to sit on the bed. After a few nights, move to a chair next to the bed, then move that chair closer and closer to the door until he’s used to you not being so close as he falls asleep. If they would rather you left the door open or want a small light on in the room, agree to that. Having the door open a crack reassures your child that you’re close by and that they are safe.
It’s important that your child sees the concept of him sleeping in his own bed as a positive thing. Set up a system where they can feel pride of their progress and see how they’re growing up and becoming more mature. Offer a reward system, such as a star sticker for every night they stay in their own room. Once they have 5 stickers, prepare a favorite breakfast such as pancakes or waffles or give your child an extra or new bedtime story.
You have to stick to the plan of getting your bedroom back regardless how difficult it sometimes seems. Your child will need comfort, reassurance, positive reinforcement, and consistency. Don’t give in the first time they make a fuss and cry because they want to be in your bed, unless you want to be crying over divorce papers some time in the future.
If your child comes to your room in the night, don’t move over and let them in your bed. Instead take them back to bed and stay with them if needed until they fall asleep again. They should still feel comfortable coming to you in the night if they have a legitimate need, but try to eliminate excuses, by making sure they have the right amount of blankets so they don’t wake up hot or cold, a sippy cup with water near the bed, and a small light in their room.
If you are consistent and always take your child back to bed, they will soon realize it’s not worth so much effort getting up unless they really need you.
Make sure that you are both in agreement and follow through. If mom says no and dad says yes it will prolong the agony.
Give It Time
Getting your bedroom back from your kids will take time. Be prepared to have patience. It won’t be done overnight in most cases. Bear in mind that once your child is used to sleeping apart from you, you’ll have your own room to yourselves for good. So a bit of investment in time and effort making the experience a positive one and following through on your decision is worth it in order to have long-term success.
Note from Ana: After the first couple of weeks my kids always slept in their own rooms, and I never let them get into a pattern of sleeping in our bed. I preferred to get up out of bed (sometimes several times a night) and go to them if they needed me. I have family members who let their three young kids get into a pattern of sleeping every night in their bed – it was the only way the kids ever went to sleep – with the consequence that the parents never had a good night’s rest for years because the bed wasn’t big enough for both of them and wriggling children. Often the hubby would move out into the child’s bed. They are still happily married (or at least happy as far as I know). I’m surprised they are still together!
Over to you: Do you have any tips for moving the kids out? What has your experience been with this? Please share in the comments below.
I read this post just in time! We’ve got a two year old and a little one due any day now. My husband and I have not spent a single night alone in the last two years and now the party in our bed is about to expand! We’ve tried so many things with our two year old to get him to sleep in his room. We’ve re-decorated, he’s on his third “big boy bed”, we removed the television from our own bedroom so that it would be boring, yet every night around one am, he pitter patters over to us. If we return him to his bed, thirty minutes later, he’s back. But I’ve got to try again with more vigor, so that nighttime doesn’t become a party of four! Aaaah!
Thanks for sharing Sojourner. It’s a really difficult time to do this with the little one on the way because your two year old is probably going to feel insecure when the new baby arrives anyway. It may not be the best time to try this unless you think you can do it in plenty of time. Your older child will need a lot of reassurance that he is not being moved to make way for the new baby. Can you arrange things so the baby stays in a different room from you and is never allowed to sleep in your bed? I know how difficult it is to resist that 1am visit when you really don’t want to get out of bed. I think I found it easier to get up because I hardly got to sleep with a child in there – one restless night was enough – they took up too much space and wriggled.
Ana recently posted…Another Three Things This Week
I learned my lesson years ago with my older children. I just had a baby 18 months ago and now that I know better, she’s definitely a kid who loves her room. She was a co-sleeper when she was a baby, slept with us til she was about 6 months, but since we moved her into her crib…there she has stayed. We don’t allow anymore nighttime sleeps with us. It’s better for her and better for us…so we can sleep next to each other.
Misty Spears recently posted…Chocolate and Almond Hemp Bark Recipe
You definitely learn a lot of what not to do the first time around although they do set challenges by tending to have completely different personalties so you have to learn a whole lot of new stuff every time LOL There’s a baby stage where they get separation anxiety around 7 months or something like that I think so you probably did it just in time. Thanks for sharing Misty.
Ana recently posted…Top 10 Times Men Are More Likely To Cheat
These are some awesome ideas. I wonder if I could get it to work on my animals….LOL
Christy recently posted…Be Free of Your Chocolate Cravings Forever
Thanks Christy. I have no idea about animals. We have only ever had a hamster and a goldfish and we never allowed them to share our bedroom. That hamster would have kept us awake all night long running around on that wheel. LOL
Ana recently posted…The State Of Dating And Online Dating Today
Great Article, and was actually pretty funny too. I can remember how fustrating it must have been for my parents.
Luke D recently posted…Three Plugins That Automate Growth Hacking
Thanks Luke. I remember crawling into my parents bed too and trying not to wake them so they wouldn’t know I was there. I knew my mom would put me back to bed! I have her to thank for doing the same with my kids, I guess 🙂
Ana recently posted…One Dating Tip We Can All Learn From
Thanks for the suggestion. That’s a good point. We live in NYC, apartments are tiny. We had to put the baby’s crib in our room because there’s only room for a toddler day bed and dresser in my two year olds room. Hmmm… this will be a tricky transition. I’m realizing that my two year old will need a lot of extra support in addition to the newborn’s needs. It looks like I’ll have to take things day by day.
Sojourner recently posted…Cooling Summertime Face Mist
I think you’re right. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all advice and in your case I would forget about trying to claim your bedroom back until you have more space. Assuming you can’t stay in your apartment forever (your new baby is going to outgrow the crib) you can start afresh in your new place, either the two kids will have their own rooms or you can put them in together and they will be a comfort to each other, but at least you will be treating them both equally, not shutting one out while you let the other one sleep in your room.
Ana recently posted…Is Technology Ruining Relationships?
I agree with Christy! I wonder if this will work with my hubby’s dog!
Lisa Mallis recently posted…What I Learned in the Last 28 Months
I didn’t even know anyone kept their pets in the bedroom to become such a problem, Lisa, but apparently I know nothing LOL. Doesn’t it make your bedroom smell of dog? I think I’d be saying “it’s me or the dog” about this one and hope he didn’t choose the dog 🙂 Thanks for sharing
Ana recently posted…If Music Be The Food Of Love, Play On
I can honestly count on 1 hand the number of nights my daughter spent in bed with us. Like you Ana, I prefered to get up and go to her if needed. The earlier a pattern is set, the easier it is to keep. I saw friends struggle for years with their kids and not having a nights peace.
Jan Kearney recently posted…How to Convert a Google Plus Brand Page to Google Local [Video]
Thanks for sharing Jan. At some point you have to be firm unless you are going to let them stay there for years so you may as well do it sooner rather than later.
Ana recently posted…What To Do If You Kiss Another Guy (But Didn’t Mean To)
Our 3-year old moved into her own room at about 3 months. And it all went really well… until around 2 1/2 years. That was when she discovered she could get out of bed and come exploring! Thanks for these tips. Especially the one about making our room less interesting. Maybe it’s time to remove all the kid’s toys from our room!
Sally recently posted…List Building: Why You Donât Need 1000s of Subscribers
I would definitely move those toys. Also if you’re firm now about taking her back to her own room, you’ll save years of wriggling in the bed 🙂 Thanks for sharing Sally.
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