halloween with babyIn most ways, I am as tame and staid as they come. To the verge of being boring, probably. But in some small and very specific ways I AM A PARTY ANIMAL JUST SEEKING MY NEXT BIG THRILL. I love roller coasters and amusement parks. I am a sucker for scary movies (except, after becoming a mother, I find I must steer clear of any scary movies involving children whatsoever. I will run shrieking from the room.) And I’m a big fan of Halloween. Not so much the dressing up part but the other stuff. Spooky Halloween decorations? Yes! Haunted houses? Double yes! Scary movie marathons? OH HECK YEAH! So, naturally, I thought it would be super fun to celebrate Halloween with two small children.

Well, it is, but not in the same way. As it turns out, children really shouldn’t watch scary movies. Or go to haunted houses. And the glow in the dark ghost window clings scare my daughter. So how can one have a fun Halloween while avoiding bedtime anxiety, nightmares and the like? A few tips…

1. Stay on schedule
An overtired child is not a happy camper. Add excitement, candy and scary ghosties and you have a recipe for Halloween disaster. Even with all the festivities, try to keep to your normal schedule as much as possible. Respect your child’s nap and bedtime and plan around it to maximize fun and minimize the scariest thing of all- a cranky, whiny, sleep-deprived child.

2. Soothe but don’t smother
Nightmares are scary. Acknowledge that. And then move on. One of the most reassuring things for your child is consistency. So soothe your child if they have a nightmare but don’t throw all your nighttime rules out the window. If you act like the nightmare is so serious and scary that it warrants you sleeping in their bed, them sleeping in your bed, everyone sleeping in the bathtub or anything along those lines, you are reinforcing and exacerbating the fear your child is feeling. You are saying to your child- you are right, this dream is real and scary and we need to protect you from it. Instead, the message you want to send is- yes, that dream was scary, but it was just a dream and you are okay. Everything is normal and fine and you can go back to sleep now.

The middle of the night is not the time to discuss and analyze your child’s dream. (Actually, neither is the morning time, unless your child brings it up.) Instead, try to help them forget it or distract them with calmer, happier thoughts.

3. Choose events and entertainment wisely
Gain as much knowledge of the tone and type of event before RSVPing. Choose age appropriate events. Don’t feel bad excluding a younger sibling from an event too mature for them. Know your child’s tolerance for all things scary and screen shows and movies before viewing. Don’t assume that because something is aired on a children’s network means it is suited for your child. This may seem like a big no duh to anyone who has ever watched ABC Family.

4. Save the chocolate for Mommy
Unless you don’t like chocolate. Then you can send it to me. But seriously limit chocolate intake in the afternoon and evening. Although there has been no concrete link between sugar and hyperactivity, my personal opinion is to limit sugary treats in the evening as well.

Happy haunting!

pediatric sleep consultingWritten by Jessica Sullivan of Happy Moon Sleep 

My name is Jessica Sullivan. I am a wife, a mother of two and a working professional. I am also someone who has suffered through months of interrupted sleep, foggy days and painful sleep deprivation JUST LIKE YOU. By the time my second child, at six months of age, was up eight to ten times a night, I knew something had to be done. I had never heard of a sleep consultant but was referred through my post-natal yoga class. I was many things- skeptical; hesitant; overwhelmed; sick of reading books on baby sleep and getting nowhere… but most of all, I was TIRED. The sleep consultant we worked with listened to us with empathy and understanding and helped us see through the chaos of our son’s sleep schedule (or lack thereof) to the possibility of a decent night’s sleep. The impact of that one hour phone conversation reverberates still today, a year later, and is the reason why I chose to train as a sleep consultant. I sincerely hope to be able to make the same positive impact for you and your family.

For more information, visit http://www.happymoonsleep.com.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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