Creating a smooth bedtime ritual for children can be difficult. When we had Bella, I had no idea how difficult bedtime could be! I was sooooo smug when my daughter was a baby! She was a WONDERFUL sleeper! The first night we brought her home, she slept for 10 hours straight. I was really proud of this accomplishment. Bella was so advanced that she was already, at just 3 days old, sleeping through the night! Yeah, I’m sure a lot of you are shaking your heads right now. Because, as it turns out, newborns are not supposed to sleep through the night. When I called Bella’s doctor that morning, he said that we needed to wake her up a couple times a night to feed her. So, lesson learned. Newborn babies=interrupted sleep (or, sometimes, no sleep at all).
As Bella grew, we found that she really was a great sleeper. She went down easily, and usually went right back to sleep after her middle-of-the-night feedings. In fact, we could feed her in the night, change her diaper, and lay her back in her crib fully awake, and she would just turn over on her side and drift back into dreamland!
Fast forward a couple years, and man, did things change! Bella stopped taking naps when she was 2, so that hour or so of free time (which, honestly, I usually spent napping with her), was now gone. You would think that without a nap, she would be ready to go to sleep early at night. Ha! Nope, not our little girl. Bella usually does not start showing signs of being tired until between 8 and 9. We try to have her in bed by 8:30. One of us always stays with her until she is asleep. This is a ritual we have had since she moved to her “big girl” bed. We all like this ritual. A song, a back rub, and she goes right out.
But then, just as we were congratulating ourselves on our excellent bedtime ritual skills and settling down to watch some Netflix, the tide turned. All of a sudden, our peaceful 3-year-old was waking up after about 2 hours of sleep, screaming for us, and wanting us to sleep with her. Sometimes she would be awake for hours. She was calm as long as we were with her, but still, there were nights where we barely slept at all.
I called her doctor, spoke to friends with kids, did research online, just anything to find some answers as to WHY our little girl had gone from being a champion of sleep to the world’s worst sleeper. And what made it so hard was that she refused to tell us what was wrong! We asked her many times, but she would just shrug and go on playing.
One night last month Bella and I were getting ready for bed. Honestly, I had come to dread our bedtime ritual. There was just so much crying and pleading (from me, at least)! I don’t know what made her do it, but Bella finally admitted to me that she had been having nightmares. It just about broke my heart! I didn’t know she was having bad dreams. She had never mentioned them before, but there it was.
It took me just a split second to get an idea! I ran to my bedroom and grabbed some lotion. I just picked a little bottle of mint lotion that we had from the Marriott.
I took the lotion to Bella, showed it to her, and told her it was called Dream Cream. I told her that Santa had left it for her last Christmas, telling me to lay it aside until Bella needed it. I told her that Santa gives it to his elves on Christmas Eve so that they will have sweet dreams. Just a tiny bit of the dream cream, and all Bella’s nightmares would disappear.
She was so sweet! Her eyes got huge and sparkly, and she immediately wanted me to put some on her. After that, we did our normal bedtime ritual and she went to sleep. And then, an amazing thing happened!!! She slept all night, for the first time in weeks! My Dad was at the house the next morning when Bella woke up. She ran out of her room and exclaimed, “Grandy, Santa’s dream cream worked and I didn’t have any bad dreams last night!”
Now, every night we include the dream cream as part of our bedtime ritual. It stays on the table right beside Bella’s bed. And if we forget to put it on her, you can bet that she is going to remind us.
I am well aware of the fact that I am, in fact, fibbing to my child. She is 3 years old. She doesn’t need a reality check yet. I want her to live in a world of magic for as long as she can! I want her to believe in Santa and to maintain her love for unicorns and rainbows. Yes, we have made Bella aware of certain realities. She knows, in simple terms, that the world is not always a nice place and that she needs to stay close when we are out because not everyone in this world is good.
But, we will always encourage her dreams and imagination. If she needs to believe in a dream cream to help her sleep well at night right now, then we will make sure that dream cream is always available to her. Hopefully Santa will drop off another batch of it when he stops by our house this Christmas eve!
If you have little children who have a hard time sleeping, or falling to sleep at night, give the dream cream a try! You may just be surprised at the results!