I knew as soon as Nadia came home from the NICU she was an anxious child. She tested me every single day that first year, and still does multiple times a day now. Of course, I blame it on her brain-bleed at birth, but I realize many, many children without such a history have anxious or OCD-like tendencies. Parenting her some days though feels impossible and overwhelming.
Side note, my MOPs group is currently meeting online, and normally I would love to see those ladies, but I just can’t today. I’m tired, neither of the girls slept all that well last night, and I spent the past hour forcing both of them to enjoy their preschool zoom sessions.
I’m always looking for the next great book to teach me something useful. But… I’ve learned 90% of the books I think are going to be awesome are actually common sense, and therefore worthless. I’m currently reading How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler by Natasha Daniels. I’m just getting to the chapter focused on separation anxiety, although the preceding chapters all confirmed that Nadia is certainly an anxious child.
I was rather fed up most of yesterday, sick of rarely to never getting a good night of sleep. Ha good, not even decent most nights. So I decided, no more crawling into the girls beds, no more allowing them to crawl into ours. But how…?
I started with Nadia (3) last night, as I usually put her to bed; if Eric is home, he will put Nora (5) to bed. The nights suck when it’s just me, although after Eric is sleeping, if both wake at the same time, as they often do, it’s usually just me anyway, as he hears nothing.
Twice before bedtime yesterday I explained to Nadia how bedtime would go… I told her I would sit beside her bed until she fell asleep (small steps at first) but I would not get into her bed, nor would I hold her hand or rub her back. I told her she was a big girl and needed to learn to put herself to sleep without my help and stay in her own bed all night. I still gave her 1mg of melatonin last night, which I don’t love doing, but every doctor I’ve ever asked tells me it’s harmless, and it certainly speeds up the time she is awake in bed initially.
So fast forward to bedtime, around 7:30pm… You aren’t going to believe this, but Nadia laid right down, I covered her up, and she fell asleep on her own within a few minutes. I snuck out of her room and thought, hum, that was easy. Too easy. I’m not sure exactly how Eric got Nora to sleep, but he was out of her room shortly after I was out of Nadia’s, so it felt like a win.
Around 11pm Nadia started getting restless in her bed, kicking and crying. I raced down, not because I want to rescue her every time she makes a noise, but because I didn’t want her waking Nora, as it’s hard to get both back to sleep on my own. (We used to use sound machines in their rooms, but they both now refuse them being turned on.) Before I even got to Nadia’s room, Nora was awake and screaming for me. Thankfully Eric wasn’t quite asleep, so he handled Nora. Nadia was having a night terror, which she does suffer from randomly, although more so lately. I stayed with her for a few minutes until she calmed down, I covered her back up, and went back to bed. Somehow Eric got Nora back to sleep rather quickly too.
At 3:30am Nora woke and started screaming for me, of course waking Nadia. I alternated between rooms trying to get both to chill and lay down until finally I woke up Eric to help. Again, Nadia laid down fairly easily and went back to sleep on her own. Nora finally fell back to sleep as well.
5:00am brought another round of Nora screaming. Again, I got Nadia back to sleep rather quickly, but Nora was not calming, kept screaming, thus Eric brought her to our room, which is on another level of the house, hoping that would allow Nadia to stay sleeping, which she did until 7:30am. Eric got up for work then so I stayed with Nora in our bed… a fail there. What else do you do with a five year-old who is loud and won’t stop crying?
I’ve been asking her for days what is wrong, what is bothering her, what is scary to her… All she says is she doesn’t want to be alone in her room. We obviously sneak out once she is sleeping, so when she wakes alone, she freaks. Keep in mind, she wasn’t doing this until a few weeks ago, before social isolation she was my awesome sleeper, allowing us to leave her room when she was still wide awake and sleeping all night in her own room. Which makes this even more frustrating to me now.
I’m hoping to finish the book today, praying it provides even one idea which proves helpful. Do I just keep trying with Nadia and then move onto getting Nora to fall asleep alone? But how? Nora even screams if she is in our bed but I’m not cuddling her. She is so weird and different lately… I’ve thought of things to try, but I fear I’ll make the situation worse… What about a treasure chest of small toys? They would get to pick one on the mornings they slept the entire night in their own beds. Obviously slowly phase out giving gifts once they are sleeping in their own beds every night. Or, if Nora keeps being extremely difficult, let her sleep on the floor next to our bed, but not with us, should she wake in the middle of the night? But is that just enabling her more? I don’t know, I just want a solution that actually works!!!