As a child, my parents’
bedroom was taboo. It didn’t have ‘no entry’ written on the door, but we KNEW
that we were not allowed to enter. My dad worked overseas for about two months
at a time, so I was able to get the occasional night in my mum’s bed while he
was away. I loved it. There’s something so ‘right’ about sharing sleep with
Contrast this to the way our
daughters have been raised. They shared our bed from infancy, and stayed there
for several years.
When our second daughter was
born, we placed two double mattresses on the floor. This allowed plenty of room
for everyone. Sure, it didn’t look like something from Homes and Garden
magazine, but who cares?
It doesn’t matter what other
people think our bedroom looks like. When we’re raising our little chicks,
comfort and pleasure is the priority.
What we created was a family
nest: A safe place. A nurturing place.
Many attachment parents don’t
allow for adequate sleeping space, and inevitably dad ends up sleeping on the
sofa or in the spare room. It may be that this suits him quite well, as he’ll ‘need’
sleep for work the next day.
Mothers, of course, don’t
'work', so they don’t need as much sleep, right? WRONG. Mothering is THE most important
job in the world, and it is the one which most definitely requires sleep in
order to function well.
Ask any mum who hasn’t slept
well how she responds to her children, and you’ll soon realise she suffers
just as much, if not more.
I would argue that the father
(partner/spouse) should stay in the family bed, and that night-time parenting
be shared. It means he becomes fully aware of both his partner’s night-time
needs, and his child’s. It also means that the appropriate bonding hormone
(vasopressin) is activated because he’s in their presence (touching/smelling
her skin), and he becomes a BETTER father and husband. He might argue for ‘better
sleep’ in another room, but he loses far more than he gains by doing so.
As a family, creating healthy
rituals around bed time benefits everyone.
 don’t go to bed late
 sleep with fresh air coming
into the room (even in Winter)
 don’t watch TV or the
computer last thing at night
 avoid stimulants, such as
tea (herbal or fruit ok), coffee and chocolate
 drink chamomile or valerian
 keep EMRs away from the bed
(e.g. mobile phone, Kindle, lamps etc)
 use natural lighting in the
last half our before bed (e.g. beeswax candles)
 sprinkle essential lavender
oil (make sure it’s 100% pure, and not synthetic) over your pillows
 read something peaceful, or
sing a gentle song
The effects of the secure
family bed last way beyond the early years. My teenage daughters still come to
my bed, not to sleep, but to chat and have intimate conversations. Attachment
parenting doesn’t stop when your child is out of arms or stops breastfeeding or
sleeping in the family bed. The bonds of trust, care and compassion are
something which continue for a very long time.
There’s a lot of rubbish in
the media right now about letting babies cry it out, and learning to self
soothe. And that, wait for it, crying it out is harmless. Wow. Do people REALLY
believe this rot?
The baby/child who cries alone
becomes the teenager who cries alone. And we have enough evidence around us to
show what happens when teenagers feel unloved, isolated and misunderstood.
On your attachment parenting
journey, there will always be people who think they know your children better
than you…and that you’re creating children who’ll always be dependent. Our
culture is intimacy-phobic, and the price for that way of being is monumental.
Trust is the most important
aspect of parenting, for without it bonds can not grow and develop. Without
bonding, we feel unsafe, worthless and rejected. These feelings don’t go away
just because we grow older. In fact, quite the opposite happens. We take those
feelings into EVERY relationship we have, and over and over again there will be
people who betray our trust because that is the pattern that we grew up
learning. It is what we expect.
As attachment parents, we can choose something different from the cultural messages around us. We can be there for our children, day and night.