Despite my kids both generally sleep through the night since they were around 7 months old, they have had periods when they had regular really frightening nightmares and have been waking up in the middle of the night, absolutely unable to fall back asleep as terrified to remain alone in their rooms.
Unfortunately we have the smallest double bed size in our room, a queen size, and my husband is quite big. We found in the past that letting them sleep with us was simply another nightmare for us, as not only there was definitively not enough space for 3 of us (let alone 4 when they had a nightmare during the same night at different times) but also because they move a lot in their sleep.
In the past we tried to lie next to their bed to comfort them so they could fall asleep again but they often cannot let go completely as they know that we will go back to our bed as soon as we think they are asleep again: that’s when they open their eyes wide open and they start crying terrified as we were about to leave the room…!
We have started adopting this method recently and it seems to be working very well! We made 2 small beds on the sides of our bed with a small coat mattress and two long extension matrasses for Ikea kids beds, where they can both come in the middle of the night if they had a nightmare and are too scared to remain alone in their bedroom. This compromise meets their need of closeness when they are terrified but at the same time it respects the couple, as our space is not invaded and they are not in our bed between husband and wife… I always thought it’s important that kids understand that they cannot be more important or in the way of their parents relationship, otherwise they get confused on their role in the family and can become emotional surrogate partners of their parents…
Since we introduced those 2 little special beds in our bedroom, our kids still fall asleep in their bedroom on their own in their beds, they still know the difference between our room and theirs, and the number of nightmares has actually decreased, as if they were less scared of a refuse as they know that now they have an alternative and can come in our room if they need to. The rare times they do, they enter in our room without making noise or waking us up so they remain independent in their choice to spent the rest of the night in our room if they need to but without interrupting our need for sleep, which is really the perfect solution for the whole family!
PS As you can probably see for yourself in those pictures, they are also very easy to undo and put away in the morning 🙂