Being a single mom, many questions and concerns come across my mind while parenting my child. I always worry about any changes I start to notice on my little one after divorce. One of these concerns is co-sleeping.
My three-year-old girl used to sleep in a separate room. However, after my divorce, she started to refuse to sleep alone and whenever I put her to bed, she comes back after some time to sleep next to me. I was confused whether I should take things lightly or stop and take an action. I was afraid that I might be doing something wrong during this emotional roller coaster phase.
I interviewed our certified Positive Discipline Educator from US Positive Discipline Association, Rana Hany, to answer all single moms’ concerns about co-sleeping and independent sleeping.
Divorce is a major change in a child’s life that will automatically be reflected on the behavior. “The child is psychologically unstable and doesn’t understand what’s happening around them especially that divorce is always accompanied with a lifestyle change. Either the father leaves the house or the mother and the child move to another one,” Hany clarified.
As a consequence, the mother will observe some changes on the child. Common changes include toilet accidents even if the child is already potty trained and becoming more attached to the mother which includes refusing to sleep in a separate room.
“A mom has to be flexible during this period,” she advised. Hany highlighted that the post-divorce period is not a time for applying rules. “Instead the mother has to be flexible with the child and they will gradually get back to normal.”
Independent sleeping routine
Since we concluded that the child needs understanding during this hard time, the independent sleeping step should be taken gradually. Hany advises mothers to re-decorate the child’s room to get excited about sleeping separately and get them a teddy bear or a doll to sleep with.
“In the beginning, the mom can read her child a story in bed then leave them to sleep while closely monitoring them. A few days later, they can read the story before going to bed, she hugs and kisses them, stays for five minutes, then leaves the room. The following day, she leaves the room immediately after hugging and kissing them,” the parenting expert further explained.
Mom’s separation anxiety
Sometimes the mother is the one who faces difficulties during child separation. According to Hany, this is normal as a mother needs her child’s attachment in sleeping as much as the child does. However, it’s advidable that a mother does not show any negative feelings in front of her child because this will make them feel that they are not safe unless she’s around. Hany added that a mother has to understand that this is a form of independence and that the child has to gradually separate and it would positively affect their characters.
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Further reading: 5 Single Mom Struggles and How to Overcome Them