Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Transitioning from Co-sleeping: His Own Room

Last year, I wrote about transitioning Ian out of our bed and into a crib in our room. Today, I am happy to report that Ian has moved into his own room.

For us, an AP/Montessori combo seems to work*. The heart of the message of AP is to trust your instincts and work from the premise that your baby has real needs and by meeting his needs, you will create a bond. How you put that into practice varies from person-to-person. Montessori teaches self-reliance and respect for the child. My friend just asked me (on the forum) if I used Dr. Sears' tips to make this transition. I did, but not specifically, meaning, I read the book a long time ago and it clicked with me. I didn't re-read it before making this transition, I just followed my instincts and respected my child.

Here are the keys to my strategy on this issue:

1. Consistency
2. Readiness
3. Preparation
4. Timing
5. Choices

The first key is consistency. Going back and forth is confusing, frightening and will make your transition longer in the end whether you are talking about transitioning from co-sleeping or potty training. (Ian wore underwear in Cambodia despite his regression on pooping on the potty. The result: he held it in, had an accident and then pooped on the potty at a restaurant in Cambodia. The message: he is in underwear now and we don't use diapers for convenience. Since we've been home, he is doing much better about pooping on the potty than he would be if we had put him in diapers for our convenience).

In December, we went back to the US to get ready to have the baby. Ian and I stayed in the same room where he slept in a crib by my bed. We came back to Korea at the end of April and had to move out of our apartment at the end of June. We were in a hotel (in the same room) followed by my cousin's apartment (in the same room) and finally into our new apartment where the bed was being occupied by my sister during her visit. Then, we went to Cambodia where we were all in the same room. I knew that we could not consistently keep him in his own room during this period, so I didn't even try.

Next, is readiness. This involves both parental readiness and child readiness. In many cases, parents are ready to end co-sleeping before the child is and they try to do it too abruptly. It causes trauma/drama and they end up back sliding and letting the kid back into their bed for at least part of the night every night. If you are ready before your child is, you need to work to get your child ready. Slow, consistent, non-dramatic progress is much better (for everyone) than forcing an abrupt change and having to back slide.

If your child is ready, like Ian was, it is much easier. The biggest sign from Ian was awareness of possessions. He could understand and appreciate the concept of "having his own room". Still, we did not surprise him with this change, we prepared him.

Preparation: We always referred to our bedroom as our bedroom and the room where his clothes were kept as "Ian's room". We talked about how after we moved and Kate left, he was going to be able to move into his own room. He picked out his new bedding. We talked about what we were going to put in his room. We established a bedtime routine in our bedroom that could be replicated in his bedroom. We made the transition in phases so it was gentle for all of us. Phase 1: stop nursing to sleep. Phase 2: transition to crib in our room. Phase 3: transition to his own room.

Timing: We waited until we could be consistent. My sister left yesterday morning and the package with Ian's new bedding arrived yesterday afternoon. So that evening, we moved the bed into his room and the exercise equipment out. Ian helped with this process. We made the bed and then, we asked him when he would like to move in.

Choices: We gave him a choice on the bedding. I showed him two sets: Transportation and Animals. I actually liked the Transportation set better, but he chose the animals. Even after I showed him the Transportation set by itself a few weeks later, he said,"That's not my bed. My bed is the animals." So I ordered the Animal set.

We gave him a choice about when to move in. I asked him,"Do you want to move in tonight or tomorrow?"

He said,"Tonight."

And he did. We went through our routine of brushing teeth, stories and nursing** (he nurses before bed and nap). I asked him if he wanted me to cuddle him for a bit and he said,"No." I turned out the light, left the room and he slept until morning! My mentor mom, Connie (formerly of Cairo), would be proud!

I'm feeling really good about how this went last night, especially since this past month has been really stressful and I've been losing my temper far too often.

*I think that if you accept the basic premises of this philosophy you can create your own version which works with your personality and lifestyle. There is lots of room for variation. It is also not the only way to do things, just the way that works for me.

**I believe in making one big change at a time. Ian loves to nurse. It doesn't bother me. He only nurses, at most, twice a day: before nap and before bed. He will wean eventually. I think my goal is to wean him by his 4th birthday. I think he may self-wean before that, but I want him to get through potty training, transitioning to his own room and entering preschool before I push weaning.


sharon said...

Congratulations! We are still working on having Emma sleep through and going to bed by herself. I think I will take your advice on this, we will do it when she's ready (and when we are ready to put in the commitment to make it work).

Anonymous said...

Ian looks so cute sleeping in his big bed! It is great that he made the transition so smoothly. You were very smart about how you went about it.

Mama Seoul said...

When I do things this way, it works. When I try to fight him or get into a power struggle, disaster results. Sometimes it is really hard to keep my cool during turbulent times, or refrain from trying to impose my will on him, but when I am able to, I can see that it works for us.

Hopefully, once we get the house set up and are able to get back to a routine, we will both calm down and have fewer tantrums (both of us).

MommyCha said...

I think that bedding is adorable! *^.^*I can understand the appeal.
It is really great to read your experience and tips. I think it will help a lot in the process. Like you I read the Dr. Sears in the past and it clicked. I planned on working with Thomas the same way you have with Ian. Thomas weaned easily and unexpectedly, so I hope things go smoothly when it comes time to transitioning to his own bed. I plan to use the single bed that is on the floor next to mine for him to start. No room change, just bed change!

Mama Seoul said...

Hope it goes well for you! Even though I believe a lot of things philosophically, I am still amazed when it actually works in practice!

Summer said...

Awww, congrats! It's so bittersweet when they transition to their own room.

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