I know all the books say that a separation anxiety is a good thing.
I am aware its supposed to mean that your toddler is forming strong and healthy attachments but to brutally honest … it’s tiring, frustrating and annoying.
A toddler with separation anxiety can be increasingly hard work through the day alone. With practically every second of the day being followed by your toddler wanting to be sat on you or in your arms it can be painful.
Now add in bedtime.
Bedtime has been a sore subject for us for a while. Just before Jacob developed Chicken Pox he developed an unhealthy sleep routine and I am not ashamed to say in part we were to blame. After being an exceptionally good sleeper as a baby we became complacent.
Over the months we slid out of the bath and bed routine and instead had a panicked rush around bedtime and fitting other things in instead.
Then bedtime just became a nightmare after allowing him to fall asleep on Ollie before being carried to bed asleep. This then resulted in me ending up on the sofa by midnight as he refused to go back to sleep unless planted firmly next to me. We were our own worst enemy.
So last week we finally made the switch into a toddler bed and it was going well.
Knowing he suffers from separation anxiety around bedtimes I took control and banished Ollie. Firstly we started with some stories and a dimly lit room and all went well, he laid in bed sucking his thumb but after stories he was totally freaking out about being left so I sat next to his bed and stroked his face till he nodded off.
Mini success in itself but still not great.
So each day I have made little tweaks to the routine and after stories I am tucking him in and then sitting at the top of the stairs as each night I have moved further and further away from his bedside. The first night took well over an hour to get him to sleep and now its currently between 20-30 minutes and with no tears.
Gradually as he gets happier I will start letting Ollie do the story and sitting on the stairs so he gets used to both of us doing the same thing.
During the night for the first few he was reasonably good and other than waking and crying and having someone put the duvet back on he soon went back to sleep but over the last few days he has become far more needy and clingy and we have relented to Ollie sleeping on a mini mattress on the floor.
We know its not any better than letting him sleep on us but how do parents find that ground of allowing them to cry in the early hours of the morning when you know your other child needs their sleep too and it’s waking them up?
What good routines and things should we be doing with him to help him self settle like he used to as a tiny baby.
We need all the help we can get so please do shout up if you have found something that works.