Last night was the first night.
The beginning of a new era.
My little man is growing up. He slept in his own bed last night.
Let me explain, I didn't cave. We're just going to ease our way into it...nice and trauma (drama) free. Or as drama free as possible - given the situation. I have what I consider to be insurmountable odds against me - his father. Q gets dropped off last night and his dad asks where his room is. Q points to a window on the west side of the house and his dad starts going on about how hot it's going to be sleeping in that room tonight. To be clear...it is the middle of the summer, and all the rooms are hot. All the rooms also have a fan and drapes...and why am I even trying to defend myself? He looked at me like I was doing this horrible thing, making Q sleep in a room that was hot in the summer time. I glared at him and thanked him for his support. This is my problem. Every time Q comes home, it's like starting over. Evidently, his daddy is pulling what I like to call a *Michael Jackson* and reliving his childhood with/thru Q. Anyways, his dad leaves in a huff because I'm teaching my child to have wings and independence. And let me tell you, it's not easy.
Yesterday, in order to prepare myself for the big event, I scoured over Internet articles on kids' sleeping patterns, how to get them to sleep on their own, why he might be fearful of sleeping on his own, etc. By the end of the afternoon, I had convinced myself that Q had both GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and SAD (Separation Anxiety Disorder)...but in retrospect, I think that's just me. I have those...not Q...I had huge anxiety about this.
About half an hour before bed, he started getting really panicky (me too...) We started a routine of having a snack, brushing his teeth, picking a book to read. Seeing as how it was his first night, I told him I would stay with him til he fell asleep. So, the little bugger stayed awake until 10:30pm. At one point he said it was okay for me to leave, but came running into my room not even five minutes later saying he felt very sick and thought he was going to throw up. So I went back and cuddled with him until he fell asleep.
Then I lay in my bed listening for any little murmur or whimper or anything to indicate my little man was missing me. My bed was empty. Until sometime in the middle of the night when he crawled in with me. I figured I would let him the first night anyways.
So, how did we (I) get through this?
- I kept telling Q how proud I was of him for being brave, yes (but didn't want to stress that too much because I didn't want him to think there was anything scary he needed to be brave for.) I emphasised how I was happy he was growing up into a big boy, instead of telling him I missed my baby. I read somewhere that this is huge...some kids feel guilty for *growing up* because parents continually talk about losing their *baby*. I've been guilty of this a time or two.
- I spoke in a calm voice. I didn't want him to pick up on my worries, so I spoke in a low, even tone and didn't raise my voice when he got *active* instead of *drowsy*. Whether he was starting to cry or brushing his teeth, my mood remained constant so as to reassure him that nothing was going to change.
- We spent time together before going to bed. We played a game of Rummy-O (not too wild and crazy...) and scrabble (can you spell RAT, HIS...and not keep score....I know, super difficult for me too!!!) But it was calming and we still got the mommy and Q time together.
- I gave him breathing techniques and told him about my *happy place* - the beach on a hot, hot day with soft, warm sand and cool, blue water. Then asked him to think about his - playing a soccer game when they're winning. This technique totally works. If I'm in the middle of a panic attack, I can literally feel my heart rate slow down as I imagine my happy place.
- We started on some cognitive awareness, which he didn't even really know. But when I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I did cognitive awareness therapy and it's a really helpful tool for rationalizing your fears. In teaching him how to deal with these feelings now, my hope is that he will have honed in on this skill by the time he's an adult and is required to make decisions (sometimes worrisome).
- I gave him a flashlight. I know, simple. right? But it gives him control over something. If he wants it lighter or darker, he gets to make the choice.
- Comfort items...George his monkey, Sweetie his bird, and Baby his blanket surrounded him on his first night....alone...
It's a work in progress. I know he's ready for it though (well, that's the debate...isn't it? Most moms are sleep training their babies at 7 months, not 7 years...but I'm not the first to have a family bed...and I'm sure I won't be the last) he's been saying he needs *me* time...which I'm pretty sure he gets from *me*. He has a journal he writes in, he wrote..."i get to sleep in my own bed. it will be fun." I'm not sure if he was trying reverse psychology, but he kept saying things like..."Oh, and if I can't sleep and it's like 11:00 at night, I can turn my light on and read my book" or "if I wake up in the middle of the night, I can play with my toys while you're still sleeping." Well, fill your boots son. As long as you don't wake me up, we're good.
Tonight he's sleeping at his dads. You know what that means, right? I get to start over at the very beginning...all. over. again. Yay. I can't wait.
Any tips to helping your kids sleep on their own and through the night? Because let me tell ya, there's not much about the subject on the Internet....unless they're trying to diagnose some sort of sleep disorder.