Why I Won’t Cut The (Monitor) Cord.

Why I Won’t Cut The (Monitor) Cord.

I realized my eyes were closed and I didn’t remember the last page I had read, so it was obviously time for sleep. I got up, turned off the light, then crawled back into bed. The sleeping conditions were perfect: a cool breeze and complete exhaustion. I figured I’d be unconscious in five… four… three… two…

Mmm-hmmm. No. Over there. Yes. {Unintelligible muttering}

My eyes popped open. Out loud, to no one in particular, I said, “You have GOT to be effing kidding me.”

It seemed Nathan had been partially awakened by the sound of the light switch or the mattress compressing under my weight and now he was talking in his sleep. His little outburst meant I was now once again wide awake.

When he was a baby, the first sound of him stirring meant I needed to immediately stop whatever I was doing, even if that was just  blinking or breathing. If I could remain completely still, maybe he’d go back to sleep. It rarely worked. It seemed fitting though since the sound of him sighing was enough to wake me back then. He and I were stuck in a vicious cycle. The thing was, I’d have given anything to make it stop whereas he seemed to take some sort of sadistic infant pleasure from making sure I never slept more than two hours at a clip.

But that was a long time ago and I am no longer so sleep-deprived that I believe my child is evil and deliberately trying to keep me awake. However, I think it’s fair to point out that often as I’m about to drift off, this kid starts to stir and his voice comes over the monitor and-

Oh, did I fail to mention the monitor?

Yes, so my kid is seven and a half and I still have a baby monitor. I’m aware that these are intended for babies, otherwise they’d be called child monitors or practically-a-tween monitors. I know hearing his every move is a big part of the reason I have trouble sleeping. Everyone has suggested that I turn the thing off. I have yet to find even one person on my side on this one, even with my very good excuses.

He hasn’t had a night terror in months, but what if he has one tonight? Or like how my kid doesn’t get up if he needs me, he just calls me from his bed. So if he had a bad dream, or misses me, is too hot or too cold, or just needs to tell me how tired he is at 2am, there really isn’t any other way for me to know unless the monitor is on. This is for his safety, really.

I don’t care what anyone says. I’m not a helicopter mom. So what if I still hold his hand until he falls asleep or I chaperon school events just so I can keep an eye on him? And maybe I still listen to him sleep and even use that monitor to spy on play dates when I can’t be in the room. None of this indicates a pattern of excessive hovering.

He’s only seven. It’s not like he’s ten. That would be excessive. I’ll turn it off by ten. Twelve the latest.

Definitely before college. I don’t need to sleep before then do I? And honestly, what’s there to worry about when he’s in college?

Photo credit: ME! (This is a picture of our monitor receiver next to a picture of my son around the time we actually needed the monitor.)

44 Responses to “Why I Won’t Cut The (Monitor) Cord.”

  1. Definitely relate. We never got into monitors because our apartment was so small we didn’t need one. It was one of the best side-effects of confined living ever. But I’ve had other, less literal monitors, that I’ve had to let go.

    • michellelongo says:

      Somehow I feel like I’m ok with the process of letting go when I have no choice. But when it’s up to me to pull the plug (literally), I hesitate. I suppose it’ll happen in time.

  2. Dawn Colli says:

    We still have our monitors and Michael and Sofia are almost 4 and 3. I am not sure when I will get rid of the monitor…maybe when it finally breaks on its own!

    • michellelongo says:

      I suspect someone will have to come over here and “accidentally” break ours for me to put it away. But at 4 and 3 I wouldn’t have even considered it. I think you have a ways to go yet :)

  3. Linda Roy says:

    I don’t even need a monitor. My kids are too old, but besides that, they’re so loud I wouldn’t miss a thing! lol

    • michellelongo says:

      Nathan is very loud during the day and I’m always so thankful when he goes to bed for the quiet. It’s funny that I’d need the comfort of the monitor to fill the silence.

  4. you wouldn’t hear him if he woke and called you?

    • michellelongo says:

      If I fell asleep downstairs on the couch, probably not, so there’s a good case for keeping it on the first floor. However, when I’m in my room across the hall, I probably would hear him unless our ACs were on. He likes it though because he worries I won’t hear him if he needs me. It’s kind of cute, really.

      • Linda Roy says:

        My 14yo is always in his room playing XBox online, and he’s in there shouting. I think to myself “who’s he yelling at?” and then I remember he’s playing XBox. lol And then my 8 yo like to chatter away in his room. So there’s no shortage of noise. I agree; those quiet moments at night are nice. And I like your idea of listening to the monitor during playdates. Sometimes when they get to quiet, you wonder what they’re up to, you know? 😉

        • michellelongo says:

          Nathan still likes to play right near me so I’m used to always having him around. He’s only just started to play in his room for little spurts. I’m sure as he gets older he’ll want to be alone more. He’s not one to talk while he’s playing – unless he’s narrating to me!

  5. having been through the hell that is the night terror for six months with my oldest, I get it.

    • michellelongo says:

      They are so scary, even after all these years and knowing what to expect, they still freak me out.

  6. Ugh. My kid still sleeps our room with us. I’ve bought him 3 “big boy” beds and STILL can’t get him to sleep in his room all night. We finally managed to get him to be on his mattress on the floor, so I don’t have him kicking my kidneys all night long in our bed. So, yeah…I get what you are saying. (Unfortunately)

    • michellelongo says:

      That’s how it was at our old house. When we moved to this one, I made “new house rules” which included sleeping in his own room. He was three and a half. I spent the next year standing in there often but now he sleeps the whole night there. He does still call me in though and I have to stay with him sometimes, so it’s a different version of the same thing. He’s getting better though. I feel like 8 is going to be our year!

  7. That sounds awful. At least take out the batteries, for a start!

    • michellelongo says:

      :) We plug it into the wall so there’s always power! (Incidentally, when the power was out for 4 days after a storm, we all slept in the living room since there was no monitor).

  8. Like Kristin, the place we rented after Philip was first born was too small to justify a monitor. I think, though, that I became hypersensitive to every little noise. Then, after hearing loss has me hallucinating sounds, I wake up thinking I hear him even when I don’t. If I had a monitor, I would know for sure.
    Too late for me. He’d probably pour water on it and short the thing out.

    • michellelongo says:

      I still think I hear him sometimes through the monitor (even when he’s not home) or I dream I hear him. If you don’t have one, better not to get one, especially while he’s still into pouring water on things!

  9. I get this. No, I don’t have kids, but the way you expressed this was so…you’re just a good writer.

  10. Erica M says:

    We are the worst parents ever.

  11. Jen says:

    I’d probably still have one if ours didn’t break. They’re handy especially if they’re upstairs and I’m down. PLUS i wake up a million times at night and always peak in their room with the retched squeaky door. Monitor would be easier for sure!

    • The up-down thing is big. I really can’t hear the little noises. Or if we sit outside or something. But when I’m just across the hall I probably could do without. I just won’t.

  12. Shauna says:

    OMG this made me LOL.My boss laughed at the fact that we still use a monitor for an almost 3 year old, so I totally get it! Chris and I always joke about how long we’ll use it in his room. And for the new baby, we are buying a whole new set of monitors so we can watch them both. 😀

    • michellelongo says:

      See, when he was a baby I used it to make sure I heard EVERY single thing. As a toddler, I used it to make sure he didn’t get up and become the destructive child everyone warns you about (he never did). Now, I know I can trust him, but I’ve become dependent on it. I would never have even considered giving it up at three, and even less so if we had another one on the way since there will be times you’ll be with the little one when you can’t get to into the other room fast enough but at least you can hear. I’m with you all the way on this one!

  13. Christine says:

    We still have a monitor, though we only use it with our youngest when he’s upstairs in bed and we’re downstairs. Upstairs, our bedrooms are tiny and practically stacked on top of each other, so we don’t need it at night. But even without it, the slightest little sound – Z rolling over in bed, or coughing slightly – will slam me into wakefulness. We do still travel with the monitor, though. Grampa’s house is bigger than ours, and has different noises, and what if he needed a glass of water or something? Plus, there’s something ridiculously sweet about listening to him sing himself to sleep at night. Great post, Michelle. (I love your writing style, by the way.)

    • michellelongo says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Christine! We would definitely use it during travel if we went some place where we’d need it (no need in a hotel room which is where we usually stay). I’m learning to ignore the smaller noises. If I’m already in a deep sleep that works, but on the edge of sleep it becomes a disaster quickly. Or the 4:20am wake up this morning because he thought it might be raining. Neither of us went back to sleep after that.

  14. Tina says:

    Leave the monitor on for as long as you want. My kid is six, and has yet to sleep in his own bed the entire night. I am not going to judge you–you are obviously a great mom! Just turn the monitor way down, so minor noises don’t wake you, but loud ones do.

    • michellelongo says:

      Thanks, Tina! It’s a good point about turning it down, that really does help. We all have to do what we have to do, right?

  15. Once my kids were past the stage where they actually NEEDED me, I got rid of it. That is mostly because I could tell if someone rolled over, and if I have not had enough sleep, everyone is cranky. I say it is your kid, your house, your decision. If you said you were still nursing when he was 7 or 8, I might start to judge.

    • michellelongo says:

      The lack of sleep has definitely taken a toll on my mood some days, that’s for sure! During the day, he is allowed almost all the independence he wants. It’s when I’m trying to sleep that I worry I’ll miss something and I can’t quite feel comfortable turning it off. It’s that leftover worry from the baby days, I guess.

  16. Nathan James says:

    You can’t tell a worrier to stop worrying. It usually just adds the additional worry of thinking you’re worrying too much. You know? I get you. And I would keep the monitor in there myself.

    • michellelongo says:

      You are absolutely right about the worrying. I can’t really turn it off. I never was a worrier before my son came along, so it’s still sort of odd to me how much I worry now. Thanks for backing me up. Also great name! (Did you catch in the post that Nathan is my son’s name? :) )

  17. Sam Merel says:

    Yikes, from what I have heard about night terrors they are absolutely frightening. I’d keep the monitor too.

    • michellelongo says:

      They really are terrifying. It’s a little easier now that we know what to expect, but sometimes things won’t follow the typical pattern and those are worse. They are less frequent though, so my hope is that he is finally outgrowing them.

      • Zipper says:

        My boys are 6 and 10. They share a room, and we still use a monitor. They have severe food allergies and the 10 year old gets migraines. When they feel sick in the middle of the night, they call me and they know I will hear. I turn it off in the daytime. No big deal! Like you said, I will get rid of it sometime…but as long as we all want it, it is staying on! :)

        • michellelongo says:

          I don’t usually leave ours on during the day either unless he has a friend over that I don’t really know. Allergies and migraines aren’t things to mess with, so you know I wouldn’t argue with your choice to leave your monitor on! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Zipper!

  18. jennifer diamond says:

    This is a joke right? Why do you need to hear every single thing he does? Jesus. So completely crazy. Sorry to be the ONE dissenting voice, but you can’t have everyone agree with this insanity. Let your kid go a little.

    • michellelongo says:

      No, it’s not a joke. I don’t need to hear every single thing he does, but I do like to know that I can hear him at night if he needs me. During the day he is often encouraged to play independently in another room, no monitor necessary. At night though, when he’s afraid of the dark and asks me to keep the monitor on so he feels more secure, I do.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. We don’t all have to agree and a dissenting voice is always welcome here.

  19. Mischka Smith says:

    I followed the link from HuffPo, hoping this was a piece of satire. You are robbing your child of independence. He cannot even play with new friends without your constant monitoring of their every word? What do you think that teaches him? That any discordance can and will be dealt with swiftly by others; he doesn’t need to take responsibility or tackle new situations by himself. Is that the automaton that you want to raise? And you admit this is taking a physical and mental toll on you, with sleep deprivation at night and dour moods during the day. Why on earth continue this behavior?

    • michellelongo says:

      Thanks for taking the time to come over and comment directly on my post. I really appreciate that!

      I like to get to know my son’s friends and I don’t really think that’s a bad thing. I don’t monitor their every word, but if they are on another floor while I’m doing something, I like to know that I’ll know when it gets too quiet. I’m not secretive about the monitor either, I let the kids know that it’s on so I’m in earshot if they need something. I don’t get involved in conversations and I don’t resolve all of his problems for him.

      As for using the monitor at night and being woken up by it, I can’t really help that he wakes up. I guess I could turn the monitor off and let him fend for himself, but that just doesn’t feel right to me. So while I joke about being tired and grumpy, the truth is I knew I would be on call 24/7 when I had a child. He knows I’m there if he needs me and as time goes on he’ll need me less.

      The post was meant to be amusing and to poke a little fun at myself. Again, thanks for stopping by.

  20. Stacie says:

    I love this post! I am not sure why the last two commenters didn’t get your sense of humor. Clearly, you were poking fun at yourself. Plus, did they take time to read any more of your blog in any attempt to understand where you are coming from? Do they have any clue how awful night terrors are? Did they realize that your parents couldn’t really be there for you? And thus how important it is for you to be there for Nathan, who is prone to anxiety? I think it’s wonderful that this went to HuffPo. I just wish people would think before going on the attack.

    • michellelongo says:

      Thanks for the sweet comment, Stacie. I don’t think I’m doing my son a disservice by being there for him. If he asked me to turn off the monitor tonight, I’d gladly do it. I’m all for independence, I truly am. I choose to teach that during the day and not push it at night. Most kids grow out of their fear of the dark and their night terrors and we’ll adjust as he matures. But we all have to parent the kids we have in a way that we’re comfortable with as a family, right?

      And I thought I was pretty funny here. I guess everyone doesn’t share my sense of humor.

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