Thursday, September 29, 2005


I need a way to get the Boy-child to sleep sooner.

Once he lays down at night, his big brain starts a-working, and all the events of the day just run amok in there, and he worries and obsesses (just like me, I’m afraid), and even though his ‘bedtime’ is 9 p.m., he usually doesn’t fall asleep until 10 p.m. or later. I’ve quietly tried to put freshly folded laundry in his room at Midnight, and when I open the door, he’s awake, says “Momma, is that you?”, and I then have to calm whatever fear is eating at him before he can fall asleep.

The ‘tucking-in’ of the kids is my time. For a while, early on, I didn’t realize what a special thing this was, I just thought of it as another ‘mom-thing’ for me to do. Then I realized that the kids consider this ‘Confessional Time’, and we talk and talk and talk about, well, whatever is on their minds. The Girl-child always wants me lie down next to her, under the covers, and rub her hair and back. Which I gladly do, unless I’m really tired and can’t be trusted to NOT fall asleep, in which case we talk, I rub for a minute, and then I leave, promising to check on her after I tuck her brudder in.

The Boy-child is older, has more going on, more thoughtful, more concerned. As soon as his bedroom light is off, he scoots over and makes a place for me to lie down beside him (on top of the covers) and then he unloads…the kids in his 3rd grade class, how he’s doing on his latest conquest of Gameboy Pokemon, who he played with (or didn’t) at recess, what happens if his loose tooth comes out while he’s sleeping, why he doesn’t like anyone to even mention the word ‘blood’, let alone show it on a tv show or something. I’m pretty frank with him. I tell him things that happened to me in 3rd grade, to let him know he’s not alone in thinking the way he does. I also tell him that 3rd grade, in the context of his entire life, is just a blip, and those little worries he has will eventually go away, so he shouldn’t make a big deal of them. We do the ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, really, how bad is this thing you’re worried about?’ That seems to help.

Sometimes I spray a lavender linen spray in his bedroom, and that calms him for a minute or two. Sometimes I rub his back. Sometimes we just lie there, listening to the crickets, the branches of the maple tree brushing against his window, the whoosh of the furnace fan, the cat mreowing outside his door, waiting for her own little time alone with me.

It’s so peaceful in there, I almost hate to leave.

But the sleep thing is a problem. He told me last night, “About 10 o’clock every day at school, I just feel SO tired. Do you think I need more rest?”

Uh. YES.

So. What say you? Do I try warm milk? Should I get one of those ‘sound’ machines that plays ocean sounds, rainfall, etc.? Should I lace his dinner with Robitussin? A nice massage? What?

Come to think of it, all those things might be the answer to MY insomnia….


At 12:03 PM, Blogger Bad Alice said...

Happened across your blog and my interest was snagged with a topic dear to my hear: getting kids to sleep.

I confess I was almost grateful when Child 2 showed allergy symptoms--out came the Benadryl and a few weeks of early nights followed. I've tried everything--warm baths, warm baths with epsom salts (these are supposed to help for some reason), warm baths with epsom salts and lavendar oil, the same routine every night, lullabies. I just hope that someday, as with Child 1, she suddenly decides she likes to sleep. Your child sounds older. You've probably already made sure he's getting lots of activity early in the day and no caffeine. Sigh. There's only one school schedule but lots of different internal cycles. If you find a solution, let me know.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Cecil B. said...

I'm with her - let me know if you figure it out. I could use something myself...

At 12:37 PM, Blogger jo(e) said...

I love your wonderful descriptions.

My son Boy in Black is like your son. I think it's just his own internal cycle. He is now seventeen and will still just stay up late sometimes, practicing the guitar. He just can't seem to go to sleep early. Instead he sometimes takes a nap when he gets home from school.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Mona Buonanotte said...

Bad Alice: We don't give the kids caffeine, but they do have things like taekwondo and soccer after school, which riles them up a bit. I like the warm bath with lavender idea. And the Benedryl!

Cecil: I'm betting if you got a different roommate, you'd sleep like a baby!

jo(e): I was like that as a kid, too, could stay up til all hours, drove my early-bird parents nuts. Maybe I'll suggest the nap thing, though. Even if it's just to rest his busy brain.

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous melanie said...

With your boy, it sounds like it's his mind more than his body that can't get to sleep. Maybe try getting him a journal, I started writing in one before I even knew my ABCs, that way he can lay in his bed and write (you know all those smart people say that putting your thoughts on paper puts your mind at ease). I would also recommend a radio that shuts off automatically after 30 minutes or so, just play classical or the ocean sounds.

Having a little night stand with a radio, light, a couple books and a journal may make falling asleep easier.

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Mona Buonanotte said...

Melanie: A journal's a good idea. He loves to write stories, and lately do illustrations. Maybe a 'Bedtime' book of sorts would help. BTW, I commented on your library post, I'm so psyched for you!

At 11:53 PM, Blogger Rose said...

I'm an aromatherapy maven. It's what I do.


Not lavender-smelling stuff, real lavender oil. You should be able to get it at a natural shop, like a herbalism shop or new age shop. You can put a few drops of that in a hot bath just like was recommended above with the flowers, you can put a couple of drops of it in some unscented lotion and rub that into pulse points (behind knees, inside elbows, wrists, temples) or you can put it in a tart melter with a little bit of water, and let it just gently diffuse itself into the air as the water warms up (the candlelight is also soothing).

But yeah. Lavender. We swear by it here. I take and make baths with it, we make incense out of it, I make lots of different topical products with the lavender (and I grow it in my garden)... it's nature's tranquilizer. A little goes a long way. Like no more than 5 drops in a bath. DROPS.

Hope you find a solution!

At 12:01 AM, Blogger Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

I also tell him that 3rd grade, in the context of his entire life, is just a blip, and those little worries he has will eventually go away, so he shouldn’t make a big deal of them.

In the third grade, I acquired the nickname "fungus." I still have not gotten over it.

At 12:01 AM, Blogger Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

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