This is universal, right? It wasn’t just me who woke up between 3 and 13 after a weird bad dream and then bugged my parents?
When my sister and I were tots, in the late 80s, there was a big thing about The Family Bed. Like, everyone had to have an opinion on it, good or bad. After doing all their research and reading every article like the good overthinking parents they were, my parents came up with an in between solution we called “rescue beds”.
So it’s 1am, I wake up from a nightmare, I toddle down the hall and stand in the doorway of my parents’ room waiting for my Dad to sense my presence and wake up (I always felt bad about bothering them so I didn’t make a big fuss). Mom would pull the covers more over her head and pretend to “sleep” (although as she points out, she always got up when we were sick, it was just nightmares she “slept” through). And then Dad would get up and get me a glass of water and put me on the bed while he got out the “rescue bed”. Which was Dad’s old boy scout sleeping bag put on the floor at the foot of their bed. And then I could get all cozy in there and listen to Mom and Dad sleep and feel safe. Very occasionally on super scary nights (like after they tried to make us watch ET, TOO SCARY FOR CHILDREN!!!!), we had the back-up rescue bed, and me and my sister would both be there on the floor and Mom and Dad would have to do an elaborate dance to avoid stepping on their children when getting out of bed.
Anyway, that was our system. Combined with various other magical thinking tricks, like Mom giving us “bad thought shampoo” when we worried about stuff and couldn’t sleep, and peeing and then drinking a glass of water so all the bad goes out and is replaced by good, and the various nightlights/stuffed animals/bedtime rituals. Really, looking back on it now, it is amazing that any small child ever gets any sleep! Night time is a terrible and dangerous place.
Or maybe that was just our household. How about you? What was your nightmare system as a kid, and/or what do you do now for your own nightmare-ridden children?
Oh, and a bonus question for my sister, does her baby really have nightmares? When he wakes up suddenly screaming in the middle of the night, could that be what is happening? Did your babies have nightmares under age 2? His little brain is so underdeveloped it doesn’t seem possible, but sometimes there’s just no reason for it and it seems like he MUST have had a nightmare.