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.