"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Answer was Molly

At bedtime a few weeks ago, we reached Level: Desperation. Max's pre-bedtime anxiety had hit a breaking point and so had I. For days leading up to that particular bedtime, there had been tears. Painful, sobbing tears over something that hadn't even happened yet, but that he knew was coming. His tears, leading up to the final kiss goodnight, and mine once I left his room. But really, the trouble had been brewing for weeks.

Max had been having nightmares nearly every night. At some point between midnight and 5am, he'd come running (literally, running) into my bed, curl up tight against me, his chest heaving, his cheeks wet with tears. Our night disrupted, sometimes for an hour or more as he resettled into sleep, we'd both wake groggy and cranky. In anticipation of the nightmare to come, bedtimes had become the worst parts of our days. His tears were starting earlier and earlier before tuck-in.

We had tried everything we could think of: we left his light on, piled his buddies all around him, shut his door tightly (at his request), talked about his worries while snuggling, validated his concerns while tickling his back, etc. Still, his tears started creeping back closer and closer to dinnertime, threatening to ruin our attempt at calm and pleasant Family Evenings.

Finally, we reached the bedtime of Desperation. I posted this photo and appealed for help from my Instagram family:

A photo posted by sarah harris (@sarah.livelaughlearn) on

My people came through and I received lots of great suggestions--guided meditation, a protective ring of amulets and/or buddies around his room, more exercise during the day, "No More Monster Spray," Guatemalan Worry Dolls, extra night lights, a Good Dreams Fairy, etc. I was anxious to try everything at once...they all seemed like such promising ideas. I needed to take it slowly, though...one thing at a time.

The very next day, we made dreamcatchers.

We talked about how it would catch his bad dreams before they got to him. In the morning, we would shake it out and send the bad dreams away for good. He asked if it was "real." "Does it really catch them? Do dreams fly through the room before they get into my head?" I told him it was a symbol. Dreams don't fly through the room, but before bed each night, if you look at your dreamcatcher, it will remind you that you're in charge. Put the bad dreams in there so you have room in your head for the good dreams.

We talk a lot about having a Not My Problem Zone in our heads, too. When you hear something that has nothing to do with you and isn't in your power to solve, you can put it in your Not My Problem Zone, leaving room in your head for solving problems that are in your power to solve. For the kids, we use it keep them focused on their own business and not wrapped up with what their brother or sister or friend is doing. For me, it's helpful in letting me keep on living and raising my babies in this world that seems so terrible at times. ISIS? Not My Problem Zone. There are other brave people working on that one. Teacher Appreciation Week? Okay, cool. I'm on it.

We hung his dreamcatcher next to his bed (and one in Molly's room, too) and it seemed to help...for a night or two, then the tears started to creep back in. We tried a few of the other suggestions but nothing really seemed to stick...until Max came up with a solution on his own.

He asked Molly to move in.

For the past three weeks, Molly has been sleeping in a sleeping bag on Max's floor. One or both of them still winds up in our bed at some point in the middle of the night, but since that very first night of cohabitation, there have been No More Tears. None. Not one.

It was working so well, in fact, that we decided to make the move a permanent one.

Lesson Learned:
And from this day henceforth, I shall curse the damned top bunk on Sheets Changing Day. 

But the sweetness that is our new tear-free bedtime makes it all worth it.


  1. You've got to stop doing this. Our gender nonconforming middle-child is on a bunk above his younger sibling.

    That said, it's not because of nightmares, but they do seem to prefer to sleep in the same room, both for the company and also because it frees up another room to be the art room.

    Glad he's sleeping better now.


    1. Hahaha! We're living your American life! :) Turning the now spare bedroom into an art room sounds PERFECT!

  2. Maybe this will help :) http://www.hiltonsandestinbeach.com/national-make-your-bunk-bed

  3. That's awesome! Glad they have each other :)