So we’ve been trying to figure out how to get Big C to sleep better.
He has always needed help falling asleep. Once he is, he sleeps great and for all night. At least he has from the time we night weaned him at 14 months up until a few months ago. All of a sudden he started waking up a bunch and wanting to come into our bed. He was waking up around 2 am so we were too tired to care and admittedly we actually liked having him. He was a good bed mate. He did not thrash around and went right to sleep.
Fast forward a few months and he was now trying to come in before we even made it to bed ourselves. We knew something had to change, but we were not sure exactly what to do. He seemed to be very afraid and wanted us for comfort but the more comfort we gave, the more he needed. It was a vicious cycle, but there was no way to just let him figure it out on his own. We could not let him be absolutely terrified.
A few friends suggested a monster spray so I figured we’d try it. I mixed water and lavender essential oil in a little spray bottle and we called it Bad Guy Spray. It was awesome to see him immediately empowered. The little boy who wouldn’t even go in the kitchen by himself marched in there confidently and sprayed the bad guys away. At nap, he walked in the dark room by himself (!!!) and set the spray on the corner of his bed. That night he slept several hours longer before trying to come in. We were hopeful that we could work with that little bit of momentum.
The next night he came in just as early as always, but I knew he wasn’t as scared as before. This time we told him he had to wait until we were in bed. When the lights went out in our room (our rooms are right across the hall from each other), he could come in. For about a week, this worked great. The confidence from the spray bought us the needed wiggle room to let him handle being in his room awake but in the dark. We still didn’t have him out of the bed though.
Another friend suggested setting up a makeshift bed on the floor right next to our bed. That way he was welcome to be with us and near us but not actually in bed. That sounded like a great idea so we had him set up the special bed, told him that when he woke up he’d sleep there instead of with mommy and daddy, tucked him in and waited.
We knew he’d complain. I’m quite certain his love language is touch and he loves to cuddle. I knew that being on the floor wouldn’t be nearly as good as in the bed. But I figured the biggest issue was the fear, so he’d take it over his room. We turned out to be wrong!
He came in like normal, Damien showed him his bed, tried to settle him and he went bonkers. We comforted him and talked to him and told him his choice was the floor or his own bed. He screamed for awhile but finally decided he wanted his own bed!! We were stunned! We settled him in his room, but he was still horribly unhappy. Who wouldn’t be? Warm comfy cuddles with mom and dad all night or a bed all by yourself with your brother snoring? It took 2 hours for him to calm down and go to sleep. We would go in every ten minutes or so, give him a hug, reassure him, etc, but ultimately he basically cried himself to sleep. Although it was sad, I can assure you that he cried his mad cry, NOT his scared cry. There’s a difference and it was easy to tell which one we were dealing with.
The next night he again chose his own bed and complained for about ten minutes before falling asleep. And now he sleeps in his own bed. All night. With no wake ups!! TWO DAYS. That’s it. We can’t believe it.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the Bad Guy spray suggestion and the sleeping on the floor suggestion. I truly think those transitions made it all possible. And I am so thankful.