A fellow step-mum recently prompted me to look back on our first overnight with monster, its very easy now to forget that we haven’t always had overnight visits with him and take for granted that at that time.. it was a very big deal.
When we first moved into our new house (3 years ago now), the first delivery we took was a new bed for Monster, his was the first room to be fully furnished and together. It wasn’t really essential as we had never had him to stay overnight and he was spending 2 days a month with us on average, so he never really used it. Having said that, Monster did love his new room and we wanted to make sure that our house felt like a home to him.
It was another 6 or 7 seven months before we would have an overnight visit with him, at which point monster was just under 2.5 years old… sounds crazy for several reasons now. Firstly that Monster didn’t stay with his Daddy for over 2 years and secondly that we’ve been having overnight visits for less than 2.5 years as I write this.
There was quite a process in getting agreement for this to go ahead, but once it was set our preparations begun. We were worried about some quite bizarre things, from what we would have for dinner, whether we had the right toothpaste and toothbrush, what pyjamas he would want to wear, buying night-time nappies and many other erroneous things, most of which we had done what felt like hundreds of times before but suddenly felt a lot more important.
We didn’t know what his normal bed time routine was, and I swayed between thinking we should try to follow that or create a routine for him to know at our house, as it happened the first wasn’t an option as we didn’t really know what his current routine was to follow it.
We decided to keep it quiet and just have the three of us for a relaxed dinner, bath time and ready for bed. It was a weekday, so actually a short amount of time to spend together. I would say I was expecting the worst but honestly had no idea what to expect from him. Would he be a good sleeper? Would he be awake half the night? Would he feel at home and secure with us?
My OH and I were a bag of anxiety through a bath, warm milk and bedtime stories – I think it felt like a much bigger deal to us than to Monster – who was perfectly chilled out and seemed without a care in the world. After the bedtime story, we turned out the lights and left the little one to sleep with a massive sigh of relief – although leaving him on his own somehow felt like the scariest part of all.
Temporary insomnia followed, both of us were petrified that we wouldn’t wake up if he cried out in the night and dozed with one eye open for a few hours, sitting bolt upright at the slightest creak in the house and listening intently to make sure monster was ok.
Eventually the night was over and Monster arose ready for a busy day at nursery. I was not ready for a day of any kind, the fear, worry and anticipation had me outright exhausted.
Thankfully, it did get easier – we got a lot less worried and our own night time routine and boundaries were established. It gives me a real sense of hope and confidence that something, once so scary, is now a part of everyday life without a moments hesitation. I hope in a few years today’s challenges feel exactly the same.