What do you do? – Stop lurking and advise please!


So I have two questions for the general population, well the general population with kids and living in Japan, preferably in an area that gets colder in winter. So maybe not the general population, but feel free to pipe in even if you don’t qualify with the above criteria.

Dilemma #1

Currently we co-sleep with Sara. Over the weekend we went to IKEA and bought her a lovely new toddler bed and set it up in her room for her to sleep on her own, something I would like to start ASAP as I would really like her to be sleeping on her own for awhile before Juniorette comes along and takes her place in our bed. Akinori understands this and is not opposed to having her finally leave our bed, thank god! because lord knows it took him long enough to get over his separation anxiety about this. However he has a problem with putting her in her own room because of the heating bill. We haven’t turned on the heat in our bedroom yet, but we will have to soon enough. If Sara sleeps in another room, we will have to turn on a heater in there too. Akinori is (for the first time ever!!) worried about how much our heating bill is going to escalate as a result, and he therefore wants to put her bed in our room, something I am completely against.

Maybe I sound callous and cold, but I didn’t want to be co-sleeping this long, to tell you the truth. It was easier to co-sleep while I was breastfeeding, but I haven’t been bfing for nearly a year now, and it is just plain uncomfortable for me as I get slowly pushed off the edge of the bed all night long because Sara wants to sleep on top of me, more or less, or with her face nuzzled into my back, or her feet on my stomach.

That is besides the point I guess. I don’t want to put her bed in our room because there is pretty much no room for it. We have a NEVER used crib in our room at the moment, which allows for approximately 15 cm of walking space on either side of our bed. He suggests taking that out, taking away ALL walking space on either side of our bed by pushing it up against a wall, and putting Sara’s bed next to it. Either way we are going to take the crib out as the cat is the only being to have used it in the 2 years that we’ve had it, though she seems to find it quite cozy and comfortable.

Anyway, my question is what do other people do? I know that not everyone with children in Japan co-sleeps and that people who live in colder regions, where using the heat at night is necessary have children who sleep in separate rooms (Heather, are you out there?). What do you do? Do you suck up the heating bill? Do your children sleep with you during the winter?

My suggestion is that we turn the heat on 30 minutes before Sara’s bedtime and put it on timer so that it shuts off an hour or two after she’s asleep. Make sure she has loads of blankets, and set the timer on the heater so that it starts up again an hour before she usually wakes in the morning. Is this unreasonable? Anyway, this topic caused a HUGE argument in the middle of IKEA on Saturday. Why does Akinori have to pipe up with his comments and ideas that piss me off at the most inappropriate times?

Dilemma #2

This one really is for the general population, with kids anyway.

Sara is at a stage where she throws things when she’s angry or when she gets overexcited. When she’s angry it’s easy to discipline her as she knows she’s doing something wrong because she’s doing it on purpose to express her anger. I can help her identify her own feelings that she’s angry and throwing is not how we deal with anger.

HOWEVER, when she gets overexcited she tends to get violent and think that it’s funny. Lately it’s pulling my hair and laughing hysterically. Sometimes it escalates to hitting me or throwing things at me. I tell her no and she laughs harder and comes back for more. I hold her hands firmly and tell her no and she laughs harder and comes back for more. I tried pulling her hair once to show her how much it hurt, and she laughed harder and came back for more. I yell “ouch!” or “itai!” and although that worked at first, now she laughs and comes back for more. I pretend, or sometimes I really cry, and although that also used to work, not anymore. She laughs and comes back for more. Lately I have taken to leaving the room and not letting her follow me. That seems to work, but it’s not always possible when we are away from home. She has also taken to kicking, which is fine when she’s kicking the floor or nothing at all, but she’ll position herself so that her legs reach me, and will kick at me, and anytime she gets anywhere near my stomach I have small panic attacks. I grab her legs and hold them, and tell her “no”. But she thinks it’s all a game, and no matter how stern I am, she laughs and laughs, and I just get more and more pissed off.

Besides pissing me off beyond belief when she does this, it really worries me when she has a book or some other object in her hand and chases the cat and swats at the cat, not just because this behavior is obviously unacceptable, but because the cat is not nearly as understanding as I am, and has sharp nails that can cause some serious damage to protect herself with.

How do I get her to understand and stop hitting and kicking when I say no, or chasing the cat? The cat gets obviously angry and hisses and swats, and Sara thinks this is all a joke. One day the cat is going to get fed up and lose her cool if I don’t first.

Thanks for the advise in advance!


About Brenda in Nagano

Originally from Chicago, I knew I was destined to spend the rest of my life in Japan the moment I set foot in the country at the tender age of 16. However, I was quite intent on spending that rest of my life in a major city with a full on career, until my Japanese Prince Charming came trotting down from the mountains of Nagano to sweep me off my feet and whisk me away, turning my whole life plan on its head. Two months after moving to Nagano I gave birth to our little Princess Charming, so now I am officially a SAHM and teach a little belly dance on the side.

16 responses »

  1. Sorry, no help with the winter comments. As for the co-sleeping thing, my hub sounds similar to yours! Alex slept in a cot in our room, then suddenly she was sleeping with us (hub`s request)..no wonder it took so long for us to get pregnant! ;P
    I too imagined Alex sleeping in a separate room before #2 was born but I have no confidence that at this stage it would be easy to do. Firstly the hassle of getting her to stay there once she is out of our room, (nightime crying etc I can imagine) and just when things settle down #2 comes along and creates a whole new situation where Alex will probably feel kicked out as we would be sleeping with a new bub, so more hassle there. So I have left it for now, we will end up co-sleeping (we fixed the bed prob, we bought two oversized singles and pushed them together, makes a giant king size bed) and we still have room for the cot so ok there.
    I`m hoping in a year or so we can put the two of them together in the same room, leaving our room gloriously free :)(nice to wish anyways).

    As for the hitting thing, your Sara sounds a little older than Alex (she will be two next month) so maybe we haven`t hit that hitting and laughing stage yet. We have had the biting, the throwing things etc..basically she gets a sharp smack on the hand and if that doesn`t work, totally ignoring her does the trick. When papa is around it`s oshiri pen-pen, she knows that and knows it`s bad so hoepfully that stays with her as she gets older.

    Sorry for the long essay, hoping to hear what others say too πŸ™‚

    • It looks like Alex is actually a month older than Sara. She’ll be two in December, but at this age kids hit different milestones at different times, and some don’t hit certain behaviors at all. Sara still has yet to hit her “hitomishiri” stage. Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with the hitting and laughing.

      Our bed is actually a king size bed to start out with, but despite all the space, I always end up being pushed to the very edge. I guess we could put a rail on the bed and Sara could sleep next to me on one side, the baby in the middle and then Daddy, or Sara on the other side of Daddy, but ideally I would love for her to be in her own bed in her own room. I know it’s a cultural thing, but I tend to feel like I give so much by just living in Japan and adapting to life here (not that I mind most of the time, I love living here for the most part) that the rare times I do make a request to incorporate the culture I was raised in, into our lives, the request should be respected.

      No need to apologize for the long comment! I love hearing what others have to say! I’m hoping for others’ responses too!

      • true true, once I got used to Alex sleeping with us it wasn`t so bad. The beginning was like you said, ending up on the edge of the bed etc, legs in your face and such but I just kept putting her back into the middle of the bed (of course she didn`t snuggle up to papa, just me)..so now she kindof sleeps all the way through in pretty much the same spot.
        The other thing I was going to say was with #2, my mum and dad are coming for quite a long time (2 months) so they get the guest room which would have been the kiddies room. So no point in setting up anything verging towards sleeping separately when there are so many things that will be different from our normal living arrangements.

        As always, I place a higher priority on a good sleep than anything else ;P

        Hope you can work out something before it gets too unmanageable.

  2. On dilemma #1, while we didn’t co-sleep (I still haven’t gotten completely used to sharing the bed at night with hubby yet and he hasn’t been working 3rd shift for > a year) but Davia does have an electric heater in her room cuz it’s so darn cold. It has it’s own thermostat so it’s supposed to cycle on & off (though we don’t think it works well) and we pretty much just live with the increased cost (though we do keep the overall house temp lower and we are going to insulate the attic at least over her room in the next week or so). She hasn’t slept with covers yet (US drs frown on it when the kid is still in a crib) but we tend to get her really thick footed pajamas for winter and will layer that with a onesie and socks if we think it’s going to be really cold (at least we don’t live in Minne-snow-dah any more).

    Dilemma #2 I have one friend that used time outs. Though it’s really hard to get Davia to stay on the designated chair (you constantly have to put them back and keep a bland to angry face but not say anthing until they’ve stopped laughing/shreiking/etc). Leaving the room, ignoring might stop it if she’s doing it to get your attention or to have you engaged in her play. If she’s doing it out of the home, it’s harder – my parent’s solution was to get a cup of water and toss the water on it (works well for shock value but gets you plenty of dirty looks), we tend to just try distractors most of the time – get her involved in something more constructive totally unrelated to either what she was doing or what she was doing when she tried to be “play aggressive” – just something that she can be too busy with to repeat the bad behavior – though she does have some really bad scratches on her hands from the cats right now…

  3. I dont have any advise on the hitting/kicking dilema, and despite not being a mummy yet, I was thinking that if you involved Sara in the room decorating etc, and made out so she was becoming a big girl big sister, etc, then maybe she would feel special and not “kicked out” of the famiy bed, kwim. Maybe you already tried this, I dont know, but maybe you could start planning it with her now to transition into on her 2nd birthday (birthday present from mummy and daddy) kind of thing…
    Not sure if that helps at all, but I know it worked wonders with my neices. They really got into the picking a theme, making wall murals with me and my sister to hang in their rooms, and setting it up all together.

  4. mmm…

    I don`t have any advice but happy to share what we do in terms of sleeping ( and reading your post and colorbynumbers comment above I am so glad we did it from a young age)- Noah slept in our room for 2 or 3 weeks in a basket beside the bed but I found I wasn`t sleeping at all because of the little sounds he made so we moved him into the cot in the next room then and just left the door slightly open so that the heat travelled through (he was born Dec) from our heater in our room (his has no heater). In spring we closed the doors and in summer I opened them again so that the aircon would travel through and since we are not using the heater here yet his doors are just closed. It helps that his room is ajourning to ours so can be opened up into one big room.

    The first couple of weeks Noah was in his own room and own cot I got a it of “kowaii sou” from my husband but he was quickly shut down with “Well you have no problems sleeping”

    What about a hot carpet in her room? Would it heat up the room enough? Or an electric blanket on low under her sheets (I am not sure if this is safe?) or a energy saver heater that plugs in?? We have an energy saver heater which hub uses in the back room which is where Noah will move to once baby 2 arrives. That is all I will use to heat/cool down his room although if we have a hot summer next year I might have to install and aircon in there as he doesn`t like fans.

    I suppose the options I listed still have a cost associated but perhaps online somewhere is a cost analysis?

    Perhaps a sleep sack without the feet in it would ensure that Sara kept warmer even if she kicked off her blankets.

    Chiba definitely does not get as cold as Nagano though….

    The hitting thing, no advice since I am trying to work on the biting thing currently. Good luck though and hoping some other mums with older kids have better advice for you.

  5. Hi there, I’m a lurker but I thought I could chip in reassurance that your daughter will be fine in an unheated room overnight. Where we live in China the only heating we have is from air-con units that are VERY expensive so we run them in the evening in my sons bedroom for 30mins before they go to bed and another 30 mins once they are in bed. By then they are cosy cosy under their covers and fast asleep. We also sleep with no heating and are fine once we warm up. It doesn’t often go below zero here but like I said, there is no heating in our house so pretty much our flat isn’t much warmer than outside. And we don’t bother with heating their bedrooms in the mornings as we find the kids get dressed faster if their room is cold ha ha. So long as your daughter has nice warm pjs and plenty of blankets she will be fine.

  6. We were in Tokyo when our kids were small, so not as cold as Nagano, but we didn’t use a heater for their room. We usually gave them a bath directly before going to bed, and then dressed them in their pajamas in a warm room. We did use the heavy sleepers over their regular pajamas (sold in the US) and then a down comforter for the top cover. With the electric carpet, I know that they don’t recommend putting a baby on an electric carpet directly, but it may work OK to heat up the room enough if the child is in the bed. (I heard that they were economical..I can’t remember the reason you weren’t supposed to put kids directly on the carpet.. something about drying out their mucous membranes) If you can’t make the move out of your bed (the co-sleeping), one thing that I have found that worked well was to roll up two towel kets or something, put them on either side of her and designate the amount of space that you are giving her in the bed. My kids would roll over and hit the rolled blanket and roll back to their own space (so not crossing over into your space.) If everyone has their own quilt, I think that this also helps to discourage movement.
    Not sure about the hitting etc. I know that on the plane that it was unavoidable since she was on your lap, but now can you stand up so that she can’t reach your face and try distraction, like another person advised. Could she be bored? Maybe if your husband could video it if it happens again and you could perhaps see if there are any triggers which are prolonging it. For example does it always happen at a certain time of day or when you are sitting down in a certain chair. Maybe stand up and ignore the bad behavior and try to get her to do something which you can praise..(it doesn’t sound like much fun though and I think that at this age is very difficult for her to understand the time outs etc.) Hope you can resolve this OK. Nancy

  7. I don’t have any advice about heating rooms since we live in Kyushu, but sleeping-wise…we coslept with the Pinglet (definitely NOT by my own choice) until she was 1, when we moved from our 2DK apartment into a detached house. We had a bed and (unused) crib in our 6-tatami mat room in our apartment so I understand how you feel about having no room. When we moved, she moved into her own room, although DH was worried about her sleeping alone, especially in the winter months. We have a temperature regulated air-con/heater so her room stays toasty in the winter and cool in the summer.

    Ahhh, the hitting thing. The Pinglet went through a hitting/spitting/throwing things stage, although we luckily escaped the biting stage. Her hitting stage was quite long (about 5-6 months) and she hit in anger, not in play. For spitting, I made her clean it up after her tantrum was over. For the throwing things stage, I told her that her toys didn’t want to play with her if she was going to throw and break them, and would put them away until she could play with them nicely (I would put them away in the closet where she couldn’t reach them until the next day usually…this would result in another tantrum most of the time πŸ™‚

    For hitting, I tried various techniques because it lasted for such a long period. Restraining her arms gently/firmly and saying “no” (this was one of the first things I tried), putting her in time-out, walking away from her and ignoring her completely after telling her not to hit, swats on the backs of her hands or butt…I don’t remember any of these working particularly well, though. If we were out in public, I would football-hold her (shrieking and screaming) and immediately leave wherever we were (even left a full cart of unpurchased groceries at the store once) and go to the car where I would let her finish her tantrum in private. If she was hitting, I would put her in the car and stand right outside until she calmed down (kind of a version of walking away from her when we were in the house).

    I’d be interested to hear other suggestions for bad-behavior…I can ALWAYS add more ideas to my arsenal. πŸ™‚

  8. we are also in kyushu, so take this with a grain of salt, but we didn’t heat the rooms, either. it gets pretty darn cold here, too! i put the kids in footie pajamas, usually fleece ones. then they had their own quilts and lots of warm blankies. my older two also slept with us until they were 5 and 3 (i think; we got their bunk beds about a year ago), but we were on the tatami with a double futon and a single futon. everyone has moved around and i usually end up with at least one kid in my bed at night (and on the rare nights it’s all three, i usually end up in the tatami room with yoshi! lol) i had no problems with co-sleeping but i eventually got tired of sleeping on the floor. i also wanted the kids to start sleeping in their own room as a part of growing up, but kids know their own pace! anyway, unless their room gets colder than below freezing on a consistent basis, you might not have to worry too much about heating her room. i think i might actually have a couple of sasha’s 2-year-old sized footie pajamas if you’d like some….

    i have no advice for the hitting and throwing, it’s something i just waited for the kids to grow out of. they would get time outs (or, just sent to bed and they would nap, because in our case that was usually the ‘problem’, too tired) but i don’t know that anything works except discipline with love and wait for them to grow out of it!

    • Illahee, I would LOVE some of Sasha’s footie pjs if sending them isn’t too much trouble! I had about 4 or 5 last year that don’t fit anymore, and I thought I bought a bunch while I was in the States, but it turns out I only bought 2. Oops.

      • ok, i’ll try to dig them up. there might be some gender-neutral ones, too (as in, very plain solid colors, yellow, red, etc.) but i’m not entirely sure. please email me and we’ll get the details sorted out!

  9. hey! How did I miss this post??

    Don’t call child services but we don’t heat the girls room. We don’t heat ours either though so it’s not like we are singling them out! This is an old house and it gets below zero up there in winter but we have heaps of futons (old fashioned Japanese crush your chest types really work) and fleece pjs and fluffy bed socks and haramaki and we use one of those futon kansooki heaters to take the chill off their beds before they get in AND they have those whet bags you microwave to warm and then stick inside a fluffy teddy bear to cuddle. Once they’re in bed I think they’re warm enough. Keeping the covers on them is tricky so we go for lots of warm clothing as well.

    Meg slept with us kawamoji style until Amy was born (K’s choice) then we moved them both into the kids room. We did it by putting a futon on the floor in there and doing all the usual bedtime stuff and then K lieing down with her (and usually falling asleep for an hour or two)! Once she got used to the room we would potter about tidying and pretending we were busy there but not looking at her until she slept. Then it was pottering around outside the door (most polished floor boards in the house are outside the girls room) and then (after a month maybe?) it was kiss goodnight, quick tidy and then downstairs.

    The transition is important and I would move all her stuff into the new room and some fun toys and books too and play there some in the day and always call it ‘sara’s room’ and make a big deal about how special it is.

    Hope this helps and reassure Akinori that kids can sleep alone- even in Nagano!

  10. Thank you all for commenting!! And a special thank you to the lurkers for de-lurking and commenting. Everyone’s comments were very, very helpful! Regarding dilemma #1 we are slowly getting sorted. We were able to get our hands on a gas heater for a VERY reasonable price, and Sara really does like her new bed, although she has yet to actually *sleep* in it. We go up to her room and play there, and she play sleeps in her bed, and puts her stuffed animals to sleep there. Hopefully one day soon she will be joining them. Akinori has resigned himself to the fact that she will be moving out of our bed sooner rather than later, although I think her current “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” phase is making this a bit more difficult for him. Funny, it is still me that she clings to during the night and ends up pushing off the edge (>.<)

    Regarding dilemma #2, things seemed to have calmed down quite a bit lately. No hitting or kicking, although chasing the cat is still a problem. I think me leaving the room and finding other things to distract her with has been working quite well, so far (fingers crossed). Sara started hoikuen (day care) this week and I think that's having an impact too. Her extra energy is being directed elsewhere during the day making things at home a lot more pleasant for all of us in the evening.

    Thank you all again!

  11. ooops im so late, although I did enjoy reading this for my own problems purposes!

    Recently we have been doing the old “naughty corner” for hitting or kicking etc, but I have to agree that its possibly just a normal thing (thank god, I thought my child was the only nasty one!)

    Anyways hope you are well Brenda πŸ˜€ and the mini one is growing nicely and Sara is settling well at hoikuen – Im going to be sending Emi soon too, and i am sooo looking forward to it!!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    your lucky about the new bed situation – I think after I start working im going to be pushing for moving to a bigger place. This co-sleeping (NOT by choice) is killing me!!!

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