Jamie Jensen

Bedtime and Nightmares

My little girl was having a real hard time at bedtime for a long time. We would do all these connecting things before bed and then I would go to leave and she would come unglued - absolutely outside of herself with sobbing and screaming. After months (Guys - MONTHS) she confided in me that she had had a nightmare and it was a pretty gruesome one. Old me would have said, “Oh that won’t happen.. Go to sleep..” Instead, New Me said “Wow, that must have been so scary for you. I get that,” then I told her about how when I was a kid I had a similar dream. We both cried! They are disturbing nightmares. And then, I suggested that instead of reading for ten minutes, we could draw our dreams in all their color, and detail, and fear. (Btw this is basic therapy world stuff: validate feelings, share feelings, express feelings.)

Well, it took us longer than ten minutes! But we got it ALL out of there and onto paper. It was slightly disturbing and beautifully connecting. My girl’s picture was heartbreaking with all its tears and fears. And then - kid you not - she goes “K thanks mom! I feel lots better! Love you! Goodnight” Rolls over. Falls asleep. No screaming. No sobbing. SLEEPING.

Now, I wish I could say she never had a hard night again - but I am not going to lie to you. What I can tell you is that she and I were much more deeply connected after that - and that’s the higher goal than punctual bedtimes. I had much more space and patience for her hard nights because I was more connected to her.