Aug 18: He Sleeps on the Floor

"Mommy, I'm scared," Truman told me when I entered his room at 9:45 pm, hearing him call me over the monitor a few minutes before.

"What are you scared of, buddy?" I asked as I got down on the floor next to him.

"I just need you, that's what I'm scared of. I just need you right now."

So I laid down and 'spooned' my boy. He rubbed my forearm for a bit and cuddled in next to me. My big three year old boy gets scared sometimes. He sleeps on his floor right now with the lamp on for the whole night. Sometimes he even asks to sleep in our bed. It's just a 'scared' phase and he won't need me forever. But right now he does and I'm in no hurry to push him further into his childhood just yet when it comes to moments like these.


I find myself being fairly laid back with parenting my three year old. I'm not a push-over parent though, as I pick my battles and feel like I butt heads with Truman more often than I'd like. Because he's three and obviously needs discipline for The Big Stuff. When it comes to listening to me, obeying me, and respecting me (and others) it's non-negotiable. I follow through with my consequences I give as a result of his poor decisions, and time outs still work pretty well for us along with removing a privilege like TV or dessert (really hitting below the belt there, I know). He knows I'm the boss and tells Nate this frequently---something that I'm sure irritates Nate but since I'm with Truman so much more, I do have to deal with the discipline more often. And I am bossy sometimes, as Nate knows all too well. ;) So anyway, I'm not a push-over parent but I'm still pretty laid back.

Because everything else that's not an earth-shattering event? Meh. I'm not going to battle with him over those minor things. Truman doesn't like to eat vegetables and even some fruits are iffy. He watches a fair amount of TV. He 'needs' my help putting on his shirts each day. The kid sleeps on the ground with a light on, did I mention that yet? But I just can't get worked up about those things because he's a little kid. It's all a phase. And my job as a mom is to teach him the rules, to discipline him so that he's not a spoiled brat, but it's also to support and encourage and let Truman be the best T he can be. Sometimes you gotta let the kid be a kid and just roll with it.

I pinned something the other day that made me grin. Age 3: Let me play (trust me, I'm learning). YES. Truman can't start 4K until next fall because his birthday is in March, but I've wondered if I should search out a more structured 'pre-school' setting for Truman right now. There's certainly nothing wrong with preparing a three year old for school, practicing letters, learning in a formal setting, etc. But Truman likes the 'free play' style at Lori's. On my days off I'm more than capable of sitting down and practicing the alphabet with him (if we make time in between playing with trains and digging dirt in our flower beds). A big part of me feels like he is going to be in school for nearly 20 years of his life. It's fine to let him explore and loaf and be three right now. It's fine for other moms to send their kids to 'pre-school' at this age, too. Whatever works, since every family and every child is so different. But for us, I'm happy to postpone the more formal school setting for one more year. He's learning and will hopefully be a good student someday regardless.

I didn't mean for this post to be about labeling my 'parenting style' because I don't think it's necessary to put a stamp on my relationship with my son. I guess I just realized the other night, laying on the floor with Truman to help ease the scariness, that some moms might raise their eyebrows at this scene. Some might say I need to lay down the law, put the kid in his bed, turn off the light, and teach him to sleep like a big boy. And some kids 'need' that firm hand guiding them. But my boy doesn't need me to be a tough mom all of the time. I'll be tough on the topics that matter in my eyes. But I believe in being a big softie when it's warranted, too. I'll take all of the cuddles I can get right now.

Just as long as it's not every night or multiple times in the night. I draw the line there ;) But occasionally? Sure, I will go with it.

Everyone has different philosophies about how to discipline, guide, and mold a child during these impressionable years. There is no right or wrong way, only the way that parents think is best for their child. If you are super strict, that's fine by me. I'm not, but no judgement for moms doing it differently than me. We all have to figure it out as we go anyway. And I'll be the first to admit I have no clue what I'm doing most of the time, especially with my first-born. I've never parented a three (almost three-and-a-half-year old) before. But overall Truman is a great kid. He's pretty laid back and I am, too (but we both have our tendencies to be dramatic, for sure). I wasn't raised in a super strict household so I'm probably parenting the way I was brought up, which is kind of cool to think about in a way. We're all doing this motherhood thing differently which is great because variety is the spice of life (or something like that).

Two light bulb moments for me, to summarize this random post:

1. Parenting is hard but it's a lot more fun when I don't take it all so seriously.

2. I might have to parent Cecelia differently than Truman because she is going to be our wild child. Hold me.


  1. Love this post! Definitely agree on the schooling piece. Whenever I read that some kid knows all their letters/numbers, can read, or whatever, I have to remind myself that Annie is 3.5 years old. Really not necessary to know all that yet and she WILL get there. I definitely am not putting Annie in preschool this year, and the only reason I might for one year is because she'll be the oldest kid in daycare then and would probably enjoy the change of pace a few days a week. We'll see though!

  2. I think blogger just ate my comment. Boo!

    I love this post.

    We do pre-k, but it's because Isaac loves the social aspect so much. His doesn't get that in a day care setting, so school is a good alternative. That and it allows me to do some things sans the three year old. :)

    My parenting is similar to yours. I'm very laid back. You wanna jump couch to couch? Wear your rain boots on a sunny day? You aren't digging the dinner we made tonight? You don't wanna wear pants around the house? Wanna crawl in our bed each morning? That's cool. It's really not a big deal to me.

    Respect and obedience are my two big ones too, but even in those, I make sure what I'm asking really matters and I try to remember to teach him appropriate ways to say disrespectful things rather than just get mad.

    I often see the comment of "I will win!" in terms of parenting and that is just not me. Parenting isn't a battle for me. I view it as building and maintaining a relationship with my boy while teaching him to be kind and confident. And if I get in a battle mentality, I usually lose sight of that goal.

    Great thoughts, Julia! I'm loving this post every day stuff. I'm sad you're already halfway through!

  3. Completely agree about schooling! My son is only 14 months, but I have no intention of putting him in all-day or everyday preschool. Whether children know their numbers and letters at two or five is not going to make a difference in the long run (in my humble opinion). Let kids be kids! I think the best learning environment is for them to be playing, exploring, and using their imaginations. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I liked the very last sentence. I'm really curious to see how your parenting child differs from child to child. Just because something works with your 3 year old right now doesn't mean it will work with your future 3 year old. Very interesting.

  5. I am a loyal reader and 1st time commenter with twin boys that are a little bit older than Truman. Your organizational and creative skills amaze me. The sleeping on the floor post got to me because my older twin one is terrified of Willie the Giant from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and had me in a headlock so that I wouldn't leave last night because he saw him for a couple of minutes on an episode and another who thinks that there are animals in his room staring at him. He now sleeps with a pillow tilted over his face. I tried to fight it but it wasn't all that battle worthy!!! My boys went to a 2 year old program last year and they baked one day and made a craft the other. It was for 2 1/2 hours and they LOVED it. I am a SAHM and needed the break. We do not have any MDO programs that are close but it has turned them in to crafting and baking machines. Whatever you decide will be the right decision for him and you!

  6. Love this. Eva is starting preschool this year - get her out and about and used to listening to someone other than me. We went back and forth and I was almost talked into putting her into the school that teaches all day - math and science centered, assigned seats and very structured. Then changed my mind and went with the preschool that centered on free play and creative learning. Same reasons as you - play as long as you can.

  7. Agree with you totally on picking the battles - since man, if we didn't, we'd be battling constantly! I feel like I'm a pretty laid-back parent, too - I just can't get worked up about certain things. I think it's sweet how T sleeps on the floor. I did that as a kid, only on my parents' floor, and I was much older than him. ;)

    As for pre-school, I've definitely come around to the realization that he'll be in school for soooo many years, I may as well keep him out in a less structured environment as long as possible. And I feel like I have no idea how much kids *should* know by the time they do start - I feel like Henry (and T for that matter) already knows so much that he might actually be bored in school! I hope that won't be the case, obviously. But yeah, I'm happy that school is still a year away.

  8. Love this post! I completely agree on the schooling aspect, I always say that my kids will be in school for so many years, why rush it now? We did preschool with Allie at age 3 mostly because she's not in daycare and I just wanted her to have another "activity" to go to during the week. But, we picked a school that was predominantly free play so she wouldn't be just stuck in a desk all day learning. She might be a little behind learning her letters or reading or whatever, but eventually she'll get it and no one will know she didn't read until... gasp 5 years old or something!

  9. I just had a very similar conversation with my son's K3 teacher when I dropped him off this morning. She feels really strongly that 3-year olds need to be 3-year olds and aren't "pre-kindergarteners." I loved that. She basically uses the K3 school year to teach them how to listen, pick up after themselves, sit on the carpet, socialize with their peers, etc. They're not supposed to be solving algebraic equations or reciting sonnets. Though that would be pretty amazeballs, too. :)
    P.S. I live in Milwaukee, too, so if you'd like info on my son's school, hit me up!

  10. This is such a good statement Julia. We all parent the way we want and shouldn't judge each other.

    However, did you notice you rhymed a lot, I kept thinking I was reading a Dr. Suess book. Or maybe that is because I was reading to my 22 month last night for 3 hours to try and get him to go to sleep :)

    And I agree with you and many other posters, my T is in a home daycare with only one other girl, and I was in Target about 9 months ago and this little girl was talking to my son and signing her ABC's. I asked how old she was and she had just turned 2. All of a sudden I felt like a horrible mom because my kid wasn't even close to singing his ABC's. As it turns out, T is about to turn 2 in a couple months, and instead of singing his ABC's and not understanding what they are, he looks at my shirts or signs all day long and says the letters. Kids deserve to learn in their own way at their own pace. And they will all learn how to read, so let them enjoy playing.

  11. Love your parenting style, and can relate so much to what you're saying here. And the schooling part? Totally. I hate the idea of pushing "school" and structured learning so early, when play is such an important part of development at this early age. And there are SO MANY years of school to come, why oh why do I worry about keeping up with the jones's and all their "1st day of school" pictures starting at 2.5? If I'm being honest, I wish I could avoid the school thing for as long as possible. :) Even though I LOVED school as a child, I just... I worry. I really am starting to realize as Gus gets older that even though parenting little kids is so freaking physically draining, it doesn't get necessarily easier as they get older.

    I think it is becoming even more emotionally draining because now I worry all the time about the what-ifs, and think about all those things in his future that I just don't have a whole lot of control over. Will he like school, will he be able to easily make friends, will he have a teacher who understands and cares for him, as a small person not just one of 20, will he be able to stand up for himself and others, will he be a good person, will the way he is able to learn jive with how his teachers are teaching? Ugh. Am I crazy? Am I the only one who worries this much?

    Anyway, I think you're great, and I think it's completely lovely how you have honored Truman's new bedtime fears, rather than dismissing them or writing them off as annoying and stupid. I try to put myself in my kids' shoes when things like this pop up, and you are doing exactly what I would want someone to do if I was scared. I would want hugs, and comfort, and closeness, and validation that my fears are real and okay to have, and not just something to get over.

  12. I loved this post.

    I'm quite lax with Bella and her nighttime shenanigans. Well, that's not totally true. I'm very consistent with the bedtime routine and her staying in her room so that she can fall asleep (vs. getting up, turning on lights, playing forever). But the getting up in the night and crawling into our bed 4 out of 7 nights, that I don't mind. I didn't bed share until Bella was 3 and here I am somehow bed sharing.

    But I really don't mind. I still get my evenings and I fall asleep without a little one. And then I wake up in the morning with a snuggly little love in my bed. I find it sweet and it won't be like this forever so I treasure it.

    And as for this age and formal learning - I agree! Sometimes A. gets a bee in his bonnet that her preschool is way to lax. I don't agree. She is learning a ton there in regards to social skills and right now all of her learning comes through playing (whether at preschool or with me...mainly with me since preschool was only 5 hours/week and will only be 7.5 hours/week next year!).

    Anyway, sweet post :)

  13. I am binge reading some of your older posts that I missed this summer. In any case couldn't resist commenting on this one.

    I couldn't agree more with you on so many points. I have to try pretty hard to let go of the small stuff but it's like you said, I have never done this whole parenting-a-three-year-old thing before! I also think it is important to make the preschool decision that is right for your kids and your family. My kids are with me 99% of the time and I felt like Lily would really benefit from the socialization and gain a little independence from me at school this year. That being said I am pretty sure we are just paying someone else to watch my kid play for three hours! Ben may not be ready at three, totally make that call when the time comes.

    Great post!


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