Parenting is hard sometimes. It’s harder at night, when you’ve stayed up too late, and you know it. Those nights when patience dwindle and you’ve got less than your best amount of empathy for a six year old with a nightmare, because you just want to go to sleep.
When Olivia wakes up with a nightmare, I know it’s going to be a long haul and I might as well get up and wake the entire house with the blender, making a smoothie to get me through.
It goes a little like this.
Screeching. At the top of her lungs.
Running into our bedroom, demanding we turn on all the lights.
We turn on the lights. She’s content with that for a few minutes, but after five or ten minutes that we’ve been trying to distract her to talk about something like the epic new cupboards in her classroom, we turn off the lights, leaving on the one in the closet off of the master bath, for a bit of light (but not enough to keep us awake).
She wails. Not about the nightmare, which in the last case was a bear attacking our tent while we were camping (for the record, no bear has ever attacked our tent and has only gotten within about ten feet of the campsite, a couple of times), no. She wails about snakes, in the bedroom.
Because that’s rational. (See, I’m not fully awake and empathetic yet).
This downward spiral of crazy turns into her seeing a hand in the bed that wasn’t Jamie’s, or mine, or hers.
She screams really loud, crying about the hand.
I try to redirect her some more.
She finds something else to be terrified of, demanding we turn on the lights.
At this point, it’s been an hour. I’m done. I tell her she can go back to her room and sleep with the lights on there.
This makes her scream-cry more. She wakes up Violet.
Violet comes into our bed.
I give up, and use the six inches of space I have in the bed to steal all of my blankets and try to cover my face.
After what feels like forever, she starts to talk about the new cupboards in her classroom, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that the next day is going to suck.
Redirecting, distracting, reassuring – these are my go-to techniques when I’m dealing with the kids and their nightmares. The two hour downward spiral of crazy though? It’s exhausting, and the normal techniques aren’t working. How do you deal with kids nightmares?