Friday, June 20, 2014

mama bird: dealing with nightmares

I hate to admit this, but I don't mind one bit being woken up by my kids in the middle of the night. Sleep takes all the naughtiness out of kids; it's impossible to be mad at them between the hours of 8:00 pm and 6:00 am for anything they did during the day. (Anything after that is up for debate.) I am a light sleeper (aren't most moms), so I normally hear anything that goes on while we sleep – bathroom breaks and bloody noses will always wake me up for at least a few minutes.

Nightmares take a little longer. I always know when a nightmare has occurred because I hear the frantic little footsteps across the wood floors. After all, the kids can't let that monster reach out from under the bed and grab their ankles (I will admit, the thought of this has made me run a little faster some nights, too). So when I hear the pitter patter of their feet, I move over a little and open the covers for them.

Once they are tucked safely in my arms, our nightmare game begins. It always starts with, "Mama, I had a bad dream." And I always reply, "OK, tell me all about it. What happened in your dream?" Sometimes the act of talking it out can calm them a little. Once they finish telling me about it, we always finish the story.

So if Henry has a dream that his Star Wars figures came to life and were chasing him, we end it with them throwing him a birthday party, complete with a Chewbacca dunk tank and Luke Skywalker cutting the cake with his lightsaber.


Or when Eva dreams that spiders are crawling all over her bed, we end it with the spiders turning into 100 pegasus (pegasi??) and she takes one for a little spin through the sky, only to land at Henry's birthday party where she, of course, dunks Chewy on the first try.
It works every time. We finish the dream, I snuggle with them for a few more minutes, then we turn the hall light on full blast and they go back to bed, hopefully dreaming of flying horses and good always beating out evil.
And I'll tell you this...it works for adults as well. My scary monster is easily replaced with Johnny Depp, who of course has no intention of hurting me. Ever.

21 comments:

  1. i LOVE that idea!! i've never thought of finishing the dream. my childhood nightmare was the pink panther! to this day, i hate that song.

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  2. That is a great idea!! I love that, I am totally going to use that when my little one is having nightmares!

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  3. What a cute idea to turn nightmares into happy thoughts!

    -Sharon
    The Tiny Heart
    Juicy Couture Giveaway!

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  4. Ha ha. I love that. I need to try that next time. I've been having brutal nightmares all my life. Need to replace a few key players with someone much more....interesting ; )

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  5. That's a fabulous idea, to turn it around. Sadie sleep walks AND gets night terrors. There's no talking to her then. But I'm definitely doing this with the next bad dream.

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  6. I'm totally remembering this for when Ollie is older and having nightmares - I love the idea of finishing the dream with a happy ending!!

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  7. Such a sweet post. My kids are grown and I do miss them crawling into my bed. Johnny Depp. Now he can crawl in anytime!

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  8. Oh, what a great way to "make it all better". My kids luckily never have nightmares -at least that wake them up. I used to have night terrors in high school. I would sit up in bed and scream bloody murder. I think I gave my mom a heart attack a few times.

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  9. Such a great idea. Have a great weekend

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  10. You are such a fantastic mum! My son had lots of nightmares and I did similar thing. I taught him to think of something funny and tell himself a funny story. I had not thought of the 'adult' version involving Johnny Dep but I like it!!
    xoxoxo

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  11. What a sweet and cool idea!,you are the best Megan x

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  12. What a wonderful, practical and compassionate ritual. I did pretty much the same, and It helped, both my children and me. I think it ultimately teaches them self soothing, although that may seem somewhat contradictory, and puts them on the path of lucid dreaming.
    Great post..took me back a couple of decades! Thanks.
    xx, Elle
    http://mydailycostume.com/

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  13. I am the same way! Sean is six and still frequently gets in bed with us in the middle of the night, and I LOVE IT! He's so sweet and cuddly. I cherish these times because I know it won't last forever.I love the idea about finishing the dream. I'm going to try that next time!

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  14. I love this! What a wonderful and sweet idea.

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  15. That is a wonderful idea! I'm saving this one for future reference! As a kid (and even as an adult) I had very lifelike nightmares (I even jumped out of bed and tried to run out of my house once--luckily my husband woke up and stopped me!). They were so bad I didn't want to go back to sleep--I think turning them into a story may have made it easier. Great idea!

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  16. such an endearing story. your children are so lucky to have you as a mom :)

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  17. This is such a sweet post. I love snuggling my daughter at night and calming her after a dream. Thanks for sharing!

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  18. Oh you are a sweet Mom. I would listen and then say ok, now go back to sleep. Some times they would have to get in bed with me. Most of the years I raised my girls I was a single mom and so my bed was plenty big for them to nuzzle next to Mommy time.

    Hope you have a great weekend. I just might make it to church this week. hope hope.

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  19. I remember calming the boys when they had nightmares. I know how scary it is when I have one--so, no doubt--it's terrifying to the little ones. Great techniques for calming the fears! T. http://tickledpinkwoman.blogspot.com

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  20. Poor kiddos! We don't deal with this much here, but when we do we just snuggle.
    -Ash
    www.stylizedwannabe.blogspot.com

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