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Sleeping Arrangements

WishfulCC's picture

Hello Everyone! 

So I have two beautiful step kids, boy age 11 and girl age 8. We have been having one large issue over the past 2 going on 3 years. My step daughter continues to want to sleep with my husband and I or in our bedroom, even on the floor, or in her brothers room but never in her own room by herself. We get them every other weekend and 1 day overnight during the week on the weekends we do not have them, and whenever their mother needs a glorified babysitter (which is another story, but we are always happy to have them).

During the beginning we let her sleep on our floor in our bedroom one out of two of the nights, and then started making her every night. Because we have them so seldomly there are some nights we're out of town where we all stay in the same room, or she has sleep overs, etc. 

Over the past year we have been trying more and more to make her sleep in her own room, in her own bed, by herself, but there have been 3 times now where she comes back to us saying her stomach hurts, we give her some tums or medicine to help and put a bucket by her bed, and she'll be crying cause she can't sleep with us and seems to get so nervous she actually does end up throwing up. Then she has to stay home from school as the schools don't allow any kids that have thrown up to come to school the next day just to be safe. 

The mother says that she's "working on it" with her, but both her and my step son have indicated or hinted at she still always sleeps in bed with her mom. No, we do not ask them if she allows it as we don't ask what's going on at their moms as that is her business, but has anyone else encountered this problem? Or what else to say to her mother that will get her to actually try to make her daughter sleep alone? 

Thank you! 



Mumof8's picture

He was allowed to sleep with his Mom in her bed until he was 13!  It was insane.  Every time we had him he would have to have this ritual where he had a stuffed animal as big as his mother (A giant whale), and would force us to heat up a disgusting rice bag so there was "body heat" in bed with him.  On the plus side, I suppose his future significant other(s) will enjoy his incessant need to cuddle, but on the down side, it was endlessly annoying.  At times that I was left to watch the skidz he would literally ask me to sleep in his bed.  Ummmmm...HELL NO!  She continued this at her house, but he knew it was a firm NO at ours.  Maybe you could find a ritual for bedtime that would help her feel comfortable and safe.  I think a large part of the problem is that you gave in in the first place.  Kids are resilient.  If she knows the rules at your home, she will stop.  It just takes being firm I think.  

Either way, I am sorry.  It really stinks as stepmoms to have to deal with Skidz all the time, and not getting a break in your own bedroom at night is something horrid.  If you haven't reached the point where you need breaks from the presence of the SKidz, then congrats.  Do yourself a favor though and maintain your stated stance that you do not ask the BM what goes on at her house.  If you get involved it is REALLY easy for BD to convince you that his kids need "saving" from their bad BM.  Trust me, you don't want to get on that conveyor belt.  I did, and in the end, I paid dearly for it and still am.  

WishfulCC's picture

I have no issue with them ever being here and love when they stay the night and both kids would like to more, but their mother doesn't want that for whatever reason (again another issue lol) but my husband has made a stance on it as well that she needs to sleep in her own room, even after she throws up, but what I hate the most is that she gets so nervous to sleep alone. She's eight years old and shouldnt have these issues. Their mother provides a good life as do we and all though I do not like their mother I know that we all just wants what's best for the kids and don't need to be friends to do this, but think so much of this is because her mother is still allowing this and doesn't think it's an issue. 

elkclan's picture

Yes, I have had this problem with YSS and with my own son, too. (Though he doesn't want to sleep in the same bed as SO, so not that.) 

YSS is now 10, but when I met him he was 8 and defo wanted to sleep in the bed with us. My son at 8 also wanted to sleep in the bed with me. It's normal for them to want to do that. I prefer to sleep with someone, too. It's also normal for you not to want them in the bed with you. There is no way through this but through it. Keep saying no, etc. etc. Call them on it. YSS used to say "I had a nightmare." One night he pulled it too quickly and we were like "You haven't been to sleep yet." He knew he was busted and that was actually the last time he's asked. 

As for the missing school thing. No. Self-induced nervous vomiting is not the same as a tummy bug. The kid can go to school. Just don't say anything. And if kid says something- you say to the school it was nervous self-induced vomiting not an illness. 

WishfulCC's picture

We do call her on it as every night it's about 20 min after they are put to bed she comes out "my tummy hurts", but all day was completely fine. And it's not that I don't "want" them in bed with us, honestly wouldn't bother me at all if it were every so often, or a "treat" night, but because she thinks she can demand it and because her mother does it every night expects it here. 

tog redux's picture

It's not normal, though it's not uncommon for kids to have anxiety at sleeping alone, especially if they aren't pushed to do it until they are older.  The path of least resistance is just to let her sleep on her brother's floor on an air mattress, unless that annoys him - since you have them so infrequently.

If you really want to make her sleep in her room, make sure her bed is very comfy with lots of stuffed animals. Some kids like a soft light left on all night and/or soothing music playing quietly.  If she gets up, walk her back to her room and encourage her to stay there by giving her rewards for doing so - something simple, like earning a star for staying in her room all night and when she gets three stars she can cash them in for a simple privilege or reward.

She sounds truly anxious, which is painful for her - if she throws up, she still goes to school because everyone knows it's not real sickness, and that's fine.  That's not the intention of the school's rule and I'm sure they would agree.

Gonna be hard to do if BM is allowing her to sleep with her, though - so I'd let her sleep on her brother's floor.

WishfulCC's picture

Thank you! Yes, she unfortunately has too many "stuffies" lol and she has a TV and Alexa Dot for music if she needs it and we will go shut it off when she gets to sleep. We ask her brother sometimes if he is okay with it, but he's getting to that age where he prefer privacy and we will never make it allow this because she's asking. 

justmakingthebest's picture

This is going to be a very painful process for both you and DH, as well as SD.

When her tummy hurts or whatever, the answer is still no. If she throws up becasue she was hysterical- she can go to school. There is no way I would keep a kid home becasue they made themselves throw up LOL. SD has you guys whipped! 

Do you have a TV in her room? I am not usually a fan of TV's in bedrooms but it might help. Once she starts sleeping in there regularly you can have her set a timer so it isn't on all night. 

You just have to be firm and consistant. Don't give in and don't let her break you down. Just think, if she is like this over where she sleeps and has you trained to let her get away with it, imagine the kind of teenager you are going to have on your hands!! 

WishfulCC's picture

Yeah I told her that just because she "made" herself throw up be being hysterical doesn't mean she's sick and can go to school, so she calls her mother, whom of course says she can't and it's school policy blah blah blah. My husband agreed, however because she would (since she has in the past) bad mouthed their father to teachers and parents when he's done this previously he gave in. 

We've tried to talk to their mom about how this is affecting her and ultimately hurting her down the road, and all we've gotten is "she's working on it" ... and my husband and myself agree we can't make her do things differently at her house, as we would hope for the same respect so not sure if anyone has had to deal with something like this as well?

sunshinex's picture

I think it's fine that she sleeps with her biomom still. It's definitely biologically normal. Kids usually decide to sleep on their own at SOME point - usually 4 or 5 when they cosleep but she's still young. It's not fine, however, to sleep with stepkids. It needs to be explained to her that sleeping with your biological parent is ok and normal but sleeping with someone who is unrelated to you, at her age, is not okay and she needs to get used to sleeping alone. 

I agree with the TV in her room. Maybe dad can lay with her until she falls asleep and leave the TV on. 


beebeel's picture

I don't think a kid will understand why it's not ok to sleep with their dad because SM is in the bed. She will just blame the SM. I highly advise against telling her it's OK at mom's but not at dad's. Just keep saying no and telling her to sleep in her room. And stop letting her sleep in her brother's room. He's nearly at puberty and he doesn't need his little sister sneaking into his bed at night. Jesus.

Jcksjj's picture

Do you think the anxiety is really that bad or is she playing it up to get her way? If she actually has a phobia about something related to it I'd gradually get her used to sleeping on her own in an exposure therapy type way and use comfort items or whatever as needed. If she is just trying to get her way then I'd be tougher about it and just tell her flat out you're a big girl and you need to sleep in your own bed now.

ESMOD's picture

First,  at her age and her brother's age.. it would not be totally out of the question for them to share a room.  i shared a room with my brother until I was 13... But, I can see him not really wanting that.. so that wouldn't be my primary solution.

What I think needs to happen is that she is no longer allowed to sleep in your room.. period.  I think your husband should make sure that her room is condusive to her sleeping there.. that she has radio/white noise.. bath before bed.. etc.. no screen time for an hour or two before her bed time etc.  ALSO.. i think that your husband needs to put himself a comfy chair/recliner in her room.  Next time she has the issue.. he goes to HER room and sits with her until she falls asleep.  I'm guessing that once she falls asleep.. she will most likely stay asleep most of the time and he can creep on back to his bed. .. worst case napping in that chair.

Perhaps some positive reinforcement too?  Maybe a "if you sleep in your bed like a big girl.. we can go to the zoo this weekend?

oneoffour's picture

No more sleepovers with friends either at your place or at their place. If she cannot self-soothe then she cannot have friends overnight or go to other peoples homes.

No more staying home from school. "No, she only threw up once because she wanted to sleep in our bed and she made herself throw up. She has no other symptoms and is perfectly fine for school."

No. This is a sentence. She gets to listen to a CD book at bedtime. She gets a deffuser with some lavender. She gets a night light. But she does not get to snuggle with adults in their bed. Ask DH how he would feel about her sleeping with her mother and her mothers b/friend in the same bed.

And if all else fails, melatonin. My grandson fights to stay awake and will do so for hours(2am!). He is 7 yrs old. So a melatonin 30 mins before bedtime and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. All night.

But a word of caution. My daughter would have nightmares about being smothered at the same age. It turned out her tonsils were so large that they were cutting off her air supply and she would wake up crying about bad dreams. Just something to consider.

twoviewpoints's picture

You're the lady with the animal rescue thing, IIRC? 

What about a kitten? A living breathing little critter to snuggle up with, whisper to, and not feel alone.

You can't stop BM from co-sleeping at BM's home, but it is time that the SD is sleeping in her own bed and own room at your house. Doesn't mean that she has to necessarily sleep totally alone. A kitten might help her not be alone . A night light , a live kitty, some stuffed toys, maybe a video that shuts off automatically. Anything simple that can hopefully help the child feel comforted and not alone.