Sweet Dreams

Ben’s never been a particularly terrific sleeper. He didn’t really sleep through the night until he was three, when we threw so many changes at him at once (new house! big boy bed! toilet training! baby brother! preschool!) that, clearly exhausted by all the upheaval, he finally started sleeping through. And for a time, his sleeping was pretty good, although I couldn’t really appreciate it (on account of the new baby), but I had my wits sufficiently about me to note it in my journal: “We’ve never had such a run of great sleep. If only I could sleep so well!”

Since then the sleep has come, and it has gone, and right now it is gone. He doesn’t fall to sleep easily, he doesn’t stay asleep. Occasionally we have tried charts and rewards for staying in bed all night, and have had varying degrees of success, but I think he just might not ever be the kind of person who sleeps from night to day without being awake in the middle of the night for a while. And I don’t stress about that too much because he gets it from me, after all (and a middle of the night cuddle from a warm kid isn’t so bad).

But the hopping out of bed every ten minutes for 2 hours after I’ve said goodnight drives me wild. I am not at my best mom self after much of that. So, inspired by Aliki‘s post the other about the other part of the sleep issue, we are taking steps.

Ben is beset by worries and bad dreams; most recently he has worried about being a passenger on the Titanic, or about falling off his bike during the Tour de France. So we’ve been talking a lot about worried thoughts and happy thoughts, and trying to switch from one to the other (again, who am I to parent him through this?!) And he likes to make lists, so we decided that a list by his bed, of good dreams, might be useful fodder for him to refer to when he is anxious. I suggested the first thing on the list, and then he got into the spirit of it and really started to dream big.

I think his prize for staying in bed will be making pain au chocolat.


  1. Aliki2006 says:

    I hope the list works, Caroline. We have a similar list by L.’s bed! I have to say (fingers crossed) that the combo of the chart with the prize at the end, and the cozy bed-on-the-floor is doing the trick so far. He hardly sleeps at all on the floor, but will come in, set up his sleeping bag, lie there for a few minutes, and then go back to his room.

    For us, realizing that L. just wasn’t ever going to be a person who would sleep through the night soundlessly and without any worries, was a big part of the process.

    And I might add that L. would be insanely jealous if he knew your kids had ridden on the Maglev!

  2. Anonymous says:

    You may already be aware of this issue, but just in case: Chocolate can have loads of caffeine. I was reminded of this recently when a friend brought her homemade chocolate cake in to work and I had a huge piece, then couldn’t get to sleep when I got home! It might be a good idea to watch the pain au chocolat after noon….

  3. Marmee says:

    Dear Caroline,

    Since reading this post several days ago, I have been praying for him. A passage of scripture in Philippians came to me, and this morning I was reading there and thought to share with you as it might help Ben expand on topics for his “good things” list.

    It’s Chapter 4:6-8. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

    I empathize with Ben, remembering a time when troublesome thoughts interrupted my sleep! UGH! Ben is blessed to have a wise, thoughtful, and resourceful mom to listen and help him!