Tag Archives: sleeping

Dream Catcher – Part Two

11 May

Part Two of Lori’s quest to help her daughters conquer nightmares!  Click here for Part One.

So, we hiked and found everything we wanted to include on our dream catchers.  My friend, Heather, and her daughter came over bringing with them lots of goodies to add!  We had different colored string, feathers, beads, angel wings, and more!

The younger kids wound up being less helpful than I anticipated!  I think they were just so happy to see one another that they wanted to play.  Unbeknownst to me, my younger daughter was coming down with a virus and spent half of the play date laying on a rug by the back door.

Heather and I worked on all three dream catchers.  My five year old helped with hers.  We weaved the string into a web and hot glued or tied all of the trinkets on.

After our friends left, I explained to my girls what the dream catchers are for and what the Native Americans believed about them.  They each picked out a place in their rooms and hung them up on the walls.

So far so good, they are doing a wonderful job of keeping the bad dreams away!


Dream Catcher – Part One

13 Apr

My oldest daughter is a few months away from turning six.  She has a vivid imagination and lives to play pretend.  Despite my best efforts to provide her with a safe, peaceful environment, with limited electronic exposure, she has nightmares from time to time.

I’ve been reading up on nightmares and I understand that it’s completely normal for a child her age to wake up with nightmares from time to time.  Her brain is working overtime during the sleep hours, rapidly developing.

The question for me is more about what to do about it.  When my daughter wakes up, she cries, comes and gets my husband or myself, and needs to be hugged and put back to bed.  We don’t ever press her for information about the dreams because that seems to make her more nervous and she doesn’t want to talk about it (I’m sure for fear it will seem more real or like she’s reliving it again).

In the mornings, I often ask if she can remember what she dreamed about.  Most of the time, she tells me no.  Occasionally she will want to tell me.  It usually involves a wild animal chasing her (thank you, Ranger Rick)!!

I’ve talked with some of my friends about the issue and several of them have mentioned putting a “dream catcher” above her bed.  According to Wikipedia, dream catchers were first introduced in the Ojibwe Nation.  Infants were given protective charms sometimes in the form of a dream catcher, which were round and had webbing in the middle.  It was said that the webbing would catch and hold anything negative or harmful, like a spider web catches and holds anything that comes into contact with it.  I figure I have nothing to lose!

A good friend of mine wanted to make one for her daughter, so we are in the process of working on them.  We went and hiked at a nearby park to find things from nature that the kids could pick out and place on their dream catchers.  Along the way we explored trails, saw a variety of insects, and learned about poison oak!  We picked out sticks to use as the base.  We found some feathers and beads (not really part of nature, but apparently some unlucky child must have lost a beaded necklace in the recent past!)

The next step: let the kids string the webbing around the sticks and decorate the dream catchers.  Stay tuned to find out more about how we make our dream catchers and whether they will keep the nightmares at bay!

52 FEATS – NUMBER 11 (Sleeping)

20 Mar

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

DAY 7 (Sunday):
I didn’t do a lot of posts this week because of spring break – I was really enjoying the time with my family!  Neither of my kids is in school full-time, but my son does have a few classes that were canceled this week.  We had so much fun – no schedule, just doing whatever we pleased.  Pretty much anything my kids asked to do, I just said yes.

So anyway, how did the Feat go?  Not bad, although it was kind of a weird week to do it.  With the time change and our relaxed schedule, I never wanted to go to bed early.  It seemed like a great week to stay up late and sleep in late, too.

But I did – begrudgingly – make it to bed early most nights.  I never did fall right asleep; instead, I lay there thinking about all the things I could have been doing.  On Friday night, I threw in the towel and stayed up to watch a movie with my husband.  I was up until about midnight.  I didn’t feel that tired, but the next morning my husband got up with the kids and I ended up sleeping until after 10 am!  I don’t think I’ve done that since college.  I guess my body did need the sleep after all.

Perhaps the biggest monkey wrench in my psuedo-scientific experiment this week wast the fact that I had a cold.  I never did experience that huge rush of energy and wellness from getting a great night’s sleep, and it could all be attributed to the illness.  Bummer.  But who knows, maybe I would still be sick right now if not for all that extra sleep this week.

Even though it might have helped me, I don’t know if I can continue this one now that the week’s over.  Time is something I feel so short on – perhaps we all do – and I am just not willing to give up any of it.  I feel like I simply can’t afford to!  But while I might not be able to avoid burning the midnight oil to get work done, I may cut down on staying up late just to watch TV.  It’s a useless waste of my time, when I’ve clearly learned how important each minute is to me right now.

I learned a great tip from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.  She was also trying to get to sleep early to increase her energy, but found herself occasionally too tired to get to bed.  Sound crazy?  Not to me – I totally get that.  I’m often ready to sleep, but too tired to actually get my jammies on and brush my teeth, so I stay up even later while I procrastinate.

Rubin’s solution?  Complete your bedtime ritual early.  Get that stuff out of the way so you can just shut down when you feel ready for it.  So that’s my new M.O. these days!  It’s easy and it works.  Night-night.

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A Good Cry

8 Mar

On Sunday, I did something that ran counter to my motherly instincts.

I let my 15-year-old daughter with autism cry.

She’d had a rough weekend by anyone’s reckoning, waking up at 1 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. both Friday and Saturday nights. Paige has never been a good sleeper, but this past weekend marked a new low. I couldn’t see any obvious cause for her wakefulness. Paige didn’t seem sick. We haven’t changed her medicines. Plus, she’d had a good week at school.

Regardless, the sleepless weekend left her irritable and ravenous; like many of us, she tends to eat more when exhausted.

Sunday afternoon, I took her over to my parents’ house, which ranks high on her favorite places to go. My dad had gone shopping so it was just me, Paige and Grandma. Paige promptly retreated to their library, her favorite place in their home.

A few minutes later, Paige started crying.

In the living room, my mom hopped up, ready to rescue her. I told her to hold tight. When Paige kept sobbing, I tiptoed toward the library and peeked through the crack in the door. She wasn’t bleeding or vomiting. Just sad.

Back in the living room, I told Grandma that Paige had it under control. She just needed to cry.

Psychologists tell their patients who are battling the blues to see funny movies, have sex and cry. All three release endorphins, which naturally elevate the mood. (I know for a fact that shoe shopping does the same!) In Paige’s case, sex is off the table, and she rarely responds to celluloid humor. Crying does help, though. Case-in-point:  she slept 11 hours Sunday night.

I wished I could say the same. Awake late into the night, I kept wondering why I can’t sit down and bawl when I know I need the emotional release. I might have two or three meltdowns a year, tops. Don’t think my absence of my tears signals any sort of strength, either. I’ve come to consider my outward stoicism a crutch, one that allows me to function rather than feel.

A sad movie, though, often does the trick, especially if the male lead gets weepy. So I might just watch “The English Patient” or “Dear John” sometime again soon.

As Paige so vividly reminded me, there’s nothing like a good cry.

Nighttime Parenting

9 Dec

I started to write this blog as sleep has evaded me for several nights in a row.  I’m not sick.  I don’t have insomnia.  I have a baby.  What is that old saying, “sleep like a baby”?!!  I don’t know about anyone else, but none of my kids have been good sleepers from the get go.  I don’t want to “sleep like [my] baby,” he’s completely restless, kicks all night, and wakes frequently to nurse!

Lack of sleep can make you do very strange things; crazy even.  I walk into a room and stand there, staring at a fixed object, knowing I had a purpose for entering, I just….can’t…figure…..out…..what….it….was!!  I go through my day in a hypnotic state.  Don’t even ask me to remember a date, not a birthday, not an anniversary!  My short term memory is a thing of the past! (I am SO glad I went straight to graduate school after college, I joke that I might not even be able to attain a Master’s Degree again at this point!)

I thought that bed sharing would be a great solution, but it hasn’t been for me.  My husband can’t sleep with a baby in the bed.  He says the baby snores too loudly and is too restless.  So, when I share a bed with the baby, we all play musical beds.  The girls bunk up, my husband is alone in our bed, and the baby and I share one of my daughter’s beds. (And this is only the most recent compromise….I’ve been all over the place, my daughter’s bottom bunk, a mattress on the floor in the baby’s room).

I find that for me, there have been several positive things about bed sharing.  I get to sleep (even if in short little spurts), when I otherwise wouldn’t.  When the baby is sick, cutting a tooth, or growing, I can nurse every thirty minutes if needed and not have to get up.  The downside for me has been the baby’s restless nature.  He wakes frequently, although does not always want to nurse.  He goes right back to sleep, but I am left lying awake for hours.  He kicks and flails his arms.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve woken in the wee hours of the night after receiving a sucker punch to the face! Talk about a rude awakening!

So, back to the crib the baby goes.  I recently had a visit with the pediatrician who advised the two main ways to get baby into the crib: something similar to the No Cry Sleep Solutions, in which the parent makes sure the baby is fed and not in need of anything, then touches the baby in the crib.  Day by day, the parent gets farther and farther away from the baby, and then eventually moves out the door.  The second way is the Ferber Method (invented by Dr. Richard Ferber) which in a nutshell is allowing the baby to self soothe by crying him/herself to sleep.

I literally get negative physical symptoms when my baby cries and therefore cannot even think about attempting the Ferber Method.  So, we’re in the midst of the other.  So far, with the support of my husband, it has not been too bad.  The first night we tried, my husband and I stood in front of the crib and patted the baby; we just didn’t pick him up.  He fussed, but didn’t cry.  He did wake up every thirty minutes to an hour though.  By two in the morning I was begging my husband to just let me bring the baby into our bed.  Fortunately, my husband was solid and encouraged me, and after the disagreement I relented and we continued on our mission.

Each night it has gotten a little easier and we are all sleeping a little better (I think).  It’s bittersweet.  While I’m sad I don’t have my little snuggle bug to cuddle with all night, the fact that I am getting a few hours of sleep consecutive is making me a better mother to all of my children during the day!  My husband is happy.  I am happy.  And the baby is perfectly fine and happy too!  The fog in my head is beginning to clear.

The baby still gets up to nurse during the night, just not as often.  I continue to enjoy that special time with him, and we get plenty of snuggles in!  He has more space to toss, turn, and stretch out as he needs to.  Nighttime parenting can easily be more difficult than daytime parenting.  I’m just glad I have the support I needed in the form of other mothers who nurse their babies and have gone through similar struggles (La Leche League meetings or playgroups are a great way to meet some of these moms) a pediatrician who reminded me that choosing to sleep separate from my baby does not make me a bad mother, and a husband who can tolerate me even in the early morning hours, when I’ve had no sleep, and become completely maniacal!

For more on the No Cry Sleep Solution, please see: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth/books/0071381392.php

I find that Dr. Sears has a lot of helpful information about nighttime parenting issues on his website too: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070100.asp

And La Leche League has a wealth of information on the subject as well: http://www.llli.org/NB/NBsleep.html

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