Problems of monster proportions

Friday, June 8, 2012

We've been suffering through a bit of a monster phase the last few months.  What that essentially boils down to is that Greyson is waking up 3-4 times a night and finding his way to our room and asking us to come back to his room to sleep with him.  We've usually been able to sleepwalk back to his room, lay down in his bed with him until he falls back to sleep and then go back to our own bed for the first two times.  And then any time after that, say oh, anything after 3am, one of us just throws up our white flag and either spends the rest of the night in his bed, or we toss him up in our bed to sleep with us out of sheer exhaustion.  

We decided that we would not be co-sleeping parents right from the start.  Not that we think anything's wrong with co-sleeping, but we just knew it wasn't our thing.  Maybe its from our high school dating history and then our extended long distance period apart, but we still feel like its important and sacred to be able to sleep in the same bed with just each other every night.  Plus, Greyson is what you would call a sleep puncher.

And to make matters even more silly, our Gemmi girl has been sleeping through the night (On Becoming Baby Wise) since a sweet 10 even though we have an infant in the house - she's not the one keeping us up.  Almost everyday for the past two months, we've ended up looking like this in the morning after Gemma's breakfast.  And although it makes for cute pictures (what is with that smirk, Gemma!), it does not make for well-rested, level headed parents.

The problem originally started because of our own doing...well, my own doing.  When I was 9 months pregnant and putting Grey down to sleep, I was so tired and huge that I would end up laying down with him in his bed and just falling asleep myself.  So Grey started to become accustomed to having someone lay with him until he fell asleep.  Problem #1.  

Then a few weeks ago he suddenly started freaking himself out thinking there were monsters in his room (or any dark space).  The mystery is that we aren't totally clear about where he learned about monsters (day care?). So if he heard a noise nearby (ie. dog's tail hitting the wall, wind against the house) he says, "What's that?!" with a pitiful look of terror in his eyes.  He also says multiple times a day, "no monsters in der, mumma?"  So what'd we do?  Google it of course.

Based off of the expertise of yahoo answers, babycenter, and random moms who've been through the same thing - we tried:  a)doing a monster check before going to bed  b)watching Monsters Inc and talking about 'nice' monsters c)giving Grey a flashlight  d)putting monsters in a garbage bag  e)making friends with monsters ("Mumma loves monsters, she gives them kissas")...all not in one day obviously but over the course of two months.  The main theme being that attempting to tell him that the monsters aren't real is pointless.  The monsters are real to him, so after all that, you know what happened?  He was still waking up in our bed.

Only now, he wasn't coming in crying, he was just coming in our room and getting in our bed.  So we were waking up in the morning realizing he was sleeping in between us. Um, danger town.  When I woke up with him literally straddling my skull (legs draped over my face and his head on my back), we knew we had made it to the breaking point.  

At the suggestion of Brandon's mom, we moved one of the dog crates to Grey's room, to see if that would make him feel more secure from the monsters.  We told Grey that Bully & Trixie scare monsters away and that monsters were especially afraid of dog barks.  And despite the dog's valiant effort (and eagerness to help)...

We still had a kid in our bed every night.  So, we used our last weapon of defense.  The only thing sweet enough that could make Grey brave to stand up to the monsters.  He would need to find the courage to defend and stand guard against those blasted monster tyrants.  The only one that could make Booboo a superhero was his baby sister.

After an ikea shopping spree, we got him a toddler bed, re-arranged Gemma's room and currently have the two sharing a pale pink bedroom since early this week.  Grey was excited about his new bed (and his cool new blankets and moon nightlight), and about sleeping with his baby sister.  We were excited about the prospect of fixing our monster problem.  Disclaimer:  we have been lucky that the two of them don't wake each other up.  They've been in our bed together before and Gemma's whining or crying doesn't startle Greyson.  And Greyson wakes up whining and crying sometimes with Gemma feet away and she sleeps right through it.  So we were not concerned about room sharing backfiring and doubling our nighttime awake baby count.

So the proof is in the pudding, as they say. The first night, Grey woke up 3 times and all 3 times, we took him back to his bed - and since his new bed is too small for us to lay down in, we came back to our room every time.  Night 2, he woke up once.  Night 3, he woke up twice,  yet still progress. And then, night 4, he slept through.  That was last night.  When I woke up this morning I asked B if he had gone into Grey's room during the night.  He hadn't, and I hadn't and then we high five'd.  Was it the smaller bed?  Was it another person in the room with him while he slept?  Was it the new belief that he's 'protecting his baby sister?'  Whatever it is, we are grateful to not have our little man afraid anymore and getting the uninterrupted sleep he needs.

Next project:  turning Greyson's room into a playroom/guestbedroom/office.  


  1. Ah we are living the EXACT same life right now!!! While very strict about neither child going to bed with us, we usually wake up with a 2 yo (who climbs in by himself now unbeknownst to us until we get kicked in the head) & a 2m old (who has unresolved stomach issues so by 4am I'm breastfeeding in bed out of sheer exhaustion). My goal is to try your suggestion eventually lol! Keep us posted on his progress :)

  2. I feel for your completely exhausted, sleep deprived, frustration. The joke in our house is that it's part of the little's plan for world domination to get us so tired we don't realize they have taken over the world. ;) Our little bed monsters are now 13 and 9 and wonderfully independent self-confident people. Your post makes me miss those days a bit -except for the getting kicked and punched in the night.

  3. My son is now 8, but we went through the same thing. I picked up a bottle of linen spray at TJ Maxx and left it in his room. I told him that he could spray the pillows and his closet "curtains" (I replaced the door with curtains)whenever he thought something was around. Monsters, ghosts and all kinds of bad creatures apparently HATE the smell of lemon mist, because within a week, it was problem solved!

    Good luck! Remember, these days are fleeting, and this too shall pass. One day you will wake up and you will miss your little boy's foot in your neck...I promis!