Scared of the Dark
Dad’s Gonna Lose It
We recently finished renovating our new home and for the first time in nearly two years my son has his own room. Unlike our old house his room is now on the opposite side of the house rather than the next room. While that gives us more(much needed) privacy, it also means that when my son wakes up in the middle of the night, scared of the dark, there’s no calming him down without traversing the entire house and that just gives him more time to work himself up.
Maybe we’re spoiled because we’ve never had to deal with this, but it still sucks. It’s a new house, and he knows how far away our room is. Adding to this is his newly developed fear of the dark. My son didn’t start to be scared of the dark until a little less than 1 year ago, but now he’s terrified of it.
So now, my normal 6 hours or so of sleep is getting cut to closer to 5 hours when you include soothing a panicked child into the mix. This does not make for a good situation. For anyone. But in my infinite wisdom I began to develop an idea.
My son loves dinosaurs and animals. I decided it would be a good idea to set up his “friends” around his room to keep an eye on things while he slept. So we put a lion and tiger on the window seal, a dinosaur on the dresser, another on the toy chest alongside Pikachu, two toy dragons and an alligator on his storage shelves and a few assorted dinosaurs and Pokemon around his bed. The first night I did this was the first time he went to sleep on his own in the new house. I thought I had won!
However over the last few weeks three developments have taken place. He is still scared of the dark and cries if he wakes up. Now, however, the bedtime routine also includes making sure all the toys are in their proper places and facing the right way. On occasion there are also promotions in the ranks and the toys need to be rearranged. The third development I should have foreseen. Now going to sleep has new complications.
While he is still scared of the dark, its not enough to contain him to the bed if he decides that, rather than sleep, he wants to play. Now after I lay him down and his mother and I say our goodnights, my son has developed the habit of getting up to gather his toys onto his bed. When I hear him, of course, I go to take the toys away and put him back to bed, but this involves putting them all back in their proper places. The cycle begins again.
Finally last night I found a solution! It turns out that my on does not want to be held and rocked to sleep anymore. Ever. So, now, when he gets out of bed I will immediately pick him up and take him to be rocked to sleep.
Last night was the first attempt of this new method. After 20 minutes of holding him and him struggling to get free, I offered to return him to bed. He accepted the terms of staying in bed and laying still in order to get back to his bed.
I’m not sure if he will devise a way to ruin my new plan, but it’s a solution for now. Maybe, for the first time in 3 years I will have proven that I can outsmart a toddler. Maybe.
Want more of my misadventures in parenting? Read: Dad’s Gonna Lose It!
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