“No, he can’t spend the night”
Let me tell you, this isn’t easy to say to your own parents about their (first and only) grandchild. Despite my assurances that it was nothing personal, they still took offense, and I can’t blame them. I probably would too in their situation. But, I have my reasons. So, here is my explanation for why I waited one year to allow my son to spend the night at grandma’s.
From the moment my son was born, I felt that “momma bear” feeling everyone tells you about, and I felt it hard. When we brought him home from the hospital we had a pretty tough time with breastfeeding. The first few doctor visits included discussions about his drop in weight and terms like “failure to thrive”. I desperately wanted to breastfeed him, so we worked hard to make it happen but he was still barely gaining weight. We eventually discovered that he had a tongue tie and it took about 5 seconds for them to correct it. Breastfeeding finally took off and weight gain got on track. Maybe it was this struggle that made me so protective about having him spend the night away from me, or maybe I would have been that way regardless, but I was absolutely transformed into a momma bear.
I wasn’t afraid to tell people to give back my baby when they were holding him (as nicely as possible, of course). I determined his precise schedule, and no one could change my mind. (Read more about Why I chose a Parent-Led Schedule) There was certainly no way I could even fathom the idea of allowing him to spend the night somewhere other than my bedside. Something also really rubbed me the wrong way about everyone’s “gimme, gimme” attitude. I still think it’s weird that people are like that with someone else’s baby – even close family. Don’t get me wrong, I want everyone to get a chance to hold him and play with him, but I feel like people should be respectful and wait for mom or dad to decide to hand them off to you. But maybe that’s just me.
We moved in with my parents when my son was about three months old. They got to see him every day and they loved it. The goal was always to move into our own place as soon as possible but when that time came, I felt a lot of pressure to bring him over for a sleepover soon after. When my husband and I finally scheduled a date night and asked them to watch our son, I could tell that was what they were expecting.
As the date got closer, I could feel the anxiety building about him spending a night away from home. In no way did I feel that my parents aren’t capable of taking good care of him. I just felt like he needed to be at home when he went to sleep and when he woke up the next morning. At this point, he was about 9 months old. All I could think was that I wouldn’t be breastfeeding him before bed or in the morning, the two most important sessions each day for him and I. Not to mention he would be sleeping somewhere else, in a new crib, and all without mommy and daddy. What if he cried for me in the middle of the night or was upset that someone else got him up in the morning? I just couldn’t bear the thought.
Momma Knows Best
Ultimately, my husband and I decided that he just seemed too young to cope with that confusion. While he would have absolutely been safe and loved at my parents home, we just weren’t ready for him to be away for so long, and we didn’t think he was ready either.
Though my parents were initially offended, they understood that it was our decision and (hopefully) that it was nothing personal. We promised that after he reached one year, and was no longer breastfeeding, we would plan a sleepover.
The World Didn’t End
Well, here we are now. My son is nearly a year old and we are gearing up to wean him in the next few weeks. I’m sure my parents will be anxious to have him over as soon as we allow, and you know what? I feel okay about it. At this point, he is well rooted in his bedtime and nap routines (thanks to the Babywise method) and adjusts well to minor changes. He has become more independent of my husband and I, sometimes wandering off to play by himself even (while we secretly supervise).
I am so grateful to have a husband who agrees with me on matters such as these (and would support me regardless). There’s something so wonderful about having married a traditional man. He values our little family more than the opinions of others. We are always the priority.
So, mommas everywhere, always know that you and your child’s father are the only ones who make the decisions when it comes to their well-being. People might be offended or disagree with your methods, but stand your ground. No one knows better than you.
16 Month Update:
The first sleepover went wonderfully and we have had a few more since then as well. My anxiety about letting him stay with my parents overnight was minimal by the first sleepover and is at this point non-existent. While I know he would have been safe and happy earlier, I felt so strongly about the decision to wait that I just couldn’t ignore it. As a new mom, it was a lesson in trusting my instincts as a mother and I’m glad I followed through. Momma knows best!
Struggling with the pressure to be whatever kind of parent everyone else thinks you should be? See Why I Chose a Parent-Led Schedule
Let me know what you think in the comments. When did you first allow your little one to spend the night away from home?
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