Friday, September 18, 2009

A little sleep goes a LOOOONG way

My daughter has been sleeping rather poorly since starting preschool. She has been having nightmares; I don't know if they are related to the start of school or simply the fact that she is now three and a half- the exact age the books say nightmares and fears climax. The cause doesn't really matter, what does is the effect they are having on her quality of sleep! It's been a perfect storm. Great change and poor sleep are resulting in crabby kid with poor emotional control. It makes me wonder if God thinks I need to become more patient? I certainly am having to work hard to maintain my OWN emotional self control and keep perspective.

Handling these nightmare nights is yet a new stage of parenting and of wondering if you are helping or hurting the situation. It is yet another series of debates and discussion with my husband and myself about how to handle them. Should we let her sleep in our room? Should one of us sleep with her? If we do, will it become a habit that is impossible to break? Do you send a THREE year old back to sleep in the dark of night when she is obviously terrified?

Though I've questioned myself I've tried to take my own advice and trust my instincts even if I am not sure why the instincts are what they are. My husband has been gracious enough to also say, "I'll trust your instincts on this one" and even if he's questioned me in the middle of the night has come back in the morning to say, "Hey I think you made the right call." To make things even better, a good friend reinforced my decisions as good based on her experiences with her kids who have gone through but also outgrown this stage.

We let her sleep in our room, on the floor, if she's obviously afraid. We haven't allowed her to manipulate us into starting the night in our room. My friend assured me it wouldn't develop into a habit and indeed it hasn't. She hasn't had nightmares this week. It seems the allowing of her to feel safe when she is afraid has increased her security and therefore probably decreased her restless sleep state. She has slept soundly this week and thank GOD my sweet three year has returned. I mean even two weeks of the "child you fear you'll have" made me worry that our sweet princess was gone forever and I'd ruined our lives putting her in preschool.

Her sleeping better ALSO means WE'VE slept better...even with our stuffy heads and runny noses. I am reminded again never to take good sleep for granted- it is SOOO important; a necessary luxury. Oh sweet sleep, thank you for returning to our home!

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