The Nightmares… and other sleep disturbances

20120831-bed-monsterI used to think that once my children grew out of that ‘newborn’ phase that I would slowly get back to my full eight hours of sleep a night. I can tell you that it is a rare event that I can sleep in my own bed and get a full night’s sleep. It’s kind of sad that the next thing that I want to write is ‘It’s not my fault.’ I feel like every time I tell someone the truth about our sleeping situation, it’s assumed that it’s something that we the parents have done, or not done for that matter. I promise you I have nothing to do with my three year old dreaming of skeletons that live under her bed, witches screaming in the hallway, nor did I encourage monsters to hide out in her closet with mean scary glowing eyes.

Our kids are just our not great sleepers. James used to have night terrors (says the doctor), which are something totally different from nightmares. He would wake up at the exact time every night and scream hysterically while his whole body trembled. It didn’t take us long to realize that he wasn’t even awake… and if we did abruptly wake him up we would pay the price. He would projectile vomit all over the place and become violent. It was the craziest thing I had ever seen, and he eventually grew out of it. But this had nothing to do with my mothering skills, or what I was doing during bedtime routine. It was just something that occurred when he stopped napping during the day and his sleeping habits changed.

Right now, a typical night goes down with about 2-3 interruptions. If I’m lucky I get the kids to bed before 8pm, and myself by 11pm. At around midnight normally a very scary witch has circled outside Jocelyn’s bedroom screeching high pitched screams to wake her up. Before I have even falling back to sleep, usually a skeleton has made a terrifying appearance, bears have tried to eat her toes, monsters have stolen her blanket or snakes have found their way under her pillow. If you think it’s the television, you may be right, but I have a feeling that little imagination would be just as active if we never turned on the cartoons at all. James has grown out of most nightmare issues… but he has developed allergies. So what does that mean? It means that at 2:30am when I’m finally back to sleep he starts coughing, from post nasal issues, consistently until about 4 am, regardless of having the humidifier running. He doesn’t even wake up… must be nice. If I’m lucky, no one else is up after that, but sometimes Jocelyn manages to pee through her pull up and comes sneaking into our room at 6am to inform me that her sheets are wet. Sigh. My daughter has an overactive imagination and my son has allergies… will I ever get to sleep through the night?

So when I hear mothers knock other moms because their kids are ‘still’ not sleeping through the night, I get upset. It may be that they haven’t done something up to the ‘parenting handbook’ standards, but it also might have nothing to do with the mom’s bedtime skills. Either way, I sympathize. If you know a mom who never sleeps, share with her a simple smile and some kind words. Trust me, being tired and dealing with toddlers all day is not the easiest task in the world. The last thing any mom needs is being asked if she feeds her kids chocolate while they watch nightmare on elm street. Tell another mom to hang in there… and that she’s doing a great job fighting off all the scary monsters from the closet.


The Nightmares… and other sleep disturbances — 5 Comments

  1. I know kids who don’t watch tv at all, and they have nightmares too. It seems like it’s the age and it’s so hard to deal with.

  2. Great post. I’m also a mom who still doesn’t sleep through the night and has two little boys sneak in now and then. On another note: That picture is terrifying!!!!!

    • Glad I’m not the only one! Sorry for the terrifying photo everyone… when I saw it I thought of my three year old’s little imagination and figure that by the way she screams in the night she must be dreaming of something similar. You watch, tonight everyone will sleep great and I will be up thinking of creepy hands grabbing at my ankles from under my bed!

  3. that photo is going to give me nightmares, thanks janet now I know you’ll be up, expect my phone call