To co-sleep or not to co-sleep? Well, it’s not much of a question for me because it definitely has been happening for us. So for the moms out there co-sleeping, you are not alone! The dynamics of our lives changed drastically and my 6 year old son regressed. He started sleeping back in the bed with me when his sister was 2 months old; the nights prior to that were just an all out fight after she was born. Already sleep deprived and tired, I folded and he has been in my bed ever since Hey, you win some and you lose some. Now, she is 17 months old and I have mastered sleeping on the corner of the edge of the king size bed long enough. It is time! In addition, he started the 1st grade today and I wanted to reclaim at least some of my bed real estate.
I created an incentive jar. Before you think that you have to go out and buy everything on the shelves or maximize your cart on Amazon to get your bed back, there are other options to help incentivize your child. There is a little bit of planning and some logistics that are necessary to set you up for success, but you can totally do it. Here is what I did to help prep my son for moving back into his bed (successfully) and the 1st grade at the same time:
- Think back! I know. As a mom, it is hard to remember what happened this morning. However, I am sure your child has started a question with, “Can we do…” or surely there has been time promised for a trip to the park that you just haven’t been able to fulfill because life gets busy. The key is knowing that the incentives chosen don’t have to be toys and they don’t have to cost money. Maybe your child really wanted to bake cookies with you or maybe they wanted to play a board game; quality time can be the leading force when creating the list. Seriously, think about it and use it as suggestions when considering #2.
- Get your child involved! Sit down with your child and create a list. For us, we needed a list of seven things because we did a week. Most times if the child is invested in the change, it will be easier for everyone involved. Let your child write out the list on the paper of their choice. You want to make sure there is enough space in between each item on the list because it will need to be cut it out. Personally I think it’s a mommy hack of letting them think they have control, but who cares as long as it gets done. Right?
- Rules are rules. Set the tone for what is expected. How many times are they allowed to get out of bed during the night before they lose the option to pick from the jar on the next day? What are the reasons that they can get out of bed? Make the rules clear and simple yet concise.
- Pick a date to start and mark it. You have to be somewhat strategic with your timing. I intentionally started the transition a week before his first day of school because the first day was the grand destination to big boy land. I didn’t want to do it sooner than that because I didn’t want the excitement to lose its thunder (so to speak).
- Get the jar. Pick a spot. You can use a jar, vase or bowl around your house. If you have to buy one, I would suggest a low cost place like the Dollar Tree. Again in the spirit of keeping your child involved (in the event that they are old enough to handle scissors), let them cut out the list, fold the paper and put the cutouts in the jar. Then, let them pick where to place the jar. He chose the bathroom sink because he could see it every morning and night while brushing his teeth.
- Celebrate! Each morning that your child wakes up and successfully stayed in bed based upon the agreed terms, they get to pick a cutout out from the jar. Of course, don’t forget to let them know how awesome they are for sticking to it.
The key here is to really set up your child up for success and to give them ownership of it. I have to be honest, the first night was harder for me than it was for him surprisingly because I had grown accustomed to him being there. However, this is best for all of us. Now, the challenge is going to be the transition for my daughter who is a night and comfort breastfed baby. One child at a time I suppose.