Bean is going through a little phase right now where he is scared of the dark. He used to say he was scared of the dark in order to get out of going to bed. He’d call us back into his room over and over again, saying things like, “Mommy, I need the cwoset light on,” or “Daddy, I need the door open.” We caught on to those games really quickly and after a week, we quit going back into his room and instead would just stand at the top of the stairs and call out quietly, “Michael, lay down, please.” 9 times out of 10, he’d actually call back to us, “Okay, mommy!” and he’d lay down and sing himself to sleep.
But in the past two months, it has become a lot more than that. He is really scared. He gets this panicked, frantic cry if the conditions aren’t just right for him. I can tell there has been a shift and that we’ve moved from playing a game to a real fear of the dark. I think it started when the weather cooled off here a bit and we were leaving our windows open at night. The first time I heard that panic cry from him was when I left his bedroom window open and the wind accidentally blew his door closed. He freaked out because he didn’t know what made his door move. Ever since then, he’s been really nervous in the dark.
We try not to coddle him too much because we don’t want to enable that fear, but I also recognize that a fear isn’t something that I want to push on him. Since we now know what makes him scared, we go through all the steps at night to make sure he isn’t going to be scared. We read books with him, then we turn on his music (an old iPod that plays Baby Einstein that we have on a speaker in his room), turn on his fan (he insists), put up his baby gate (its how we keep him from wandering around in the night), and then prop open his bedroom door. If we go through all those steps, he lays down and sings himself to sleep. But if we miss a step or if something out of the ordinary happens, he gets that panicked sound again.
This new fear sparked me to post on Facebook, asking if any of my friends had any good remedies for toddlers who were scared of the dark. My sweet friend, Ann, suggested the Cloud b Twilight Constellation Night Light. She has an autistic son who is Bean’s age and she says this has really helped him with nighttime routines. I trust just about anything Ann recommends to me and so I ordered one online that same day.
The nice thing about this turtle is that it is plush enough that Bean can bring him into bed with him and play with him a bit (he plays in his bed until he gets sleepy), but while he’s playing with it, it casts constellations onto the ceiling, which gives the room a little light and gives him some control over the darkness. It’s like a stuffed animal, a toy, and a nightlight all in one.
I also picked up a little Buzz Lightyear flashlight for Bean, too. This could be a great stocking stuffer or it could be the worst idea I’ve ever had. I got this idea from Ann, too!! Only, she was giving it as advice on a different parenting question! See? She’s one of those brilliant mom friends every parent needs in their life. Ann’s dad used to give his kids flashlights at night when they were little and learning to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The flashlight gave them some incentive to get up out of bed to go to the potty and it also lit the way. Bean’s still fairly far from having to get up in the middle of the night for potty yet, but I thought the flashlight might be a nice solution for the scared of the dark thing, too. Although, this could be a big mistake, so I’ll have to report back to you later. But for a $10.00 little stocking stuffer, I figured it was worth a shot.
Once I got on this theme of making the nighttime un-scary, I decided to pick up a few little gifts for Gracie, too. I knew exactly what I was going to get her right away. A Glow Worm. I had one when I was little. Just like Bean’s new turtle, it’s the perfect blend between a stuffed animal and a nightlight. And it’s super inexpensive, too! $10.00 and Gracie has a sweet little worm to keep her company at night.
I also put a nightlight on Gracie’s Christmas list, too. It’s one of her stocking stuffers. This one is more for me than it is for Gracie, actually. Gracie likes to sleep in pitch black darkness, so we’ve never gotten her a nightlight. But when I go in to check on her at night, I can’t see anything. This nightlight is perfect because it’s really cute, but also because you tap it to turn it on and off. So, I can basically use it like a little lamp when I go in to check on her without turning on a bright light.
One of the best parts of being a mom is being the one to make everything better for my kids and I feel really good about doing something to help Bean get through this scared of the dark phase. Although, I think Santa is going to get the credit for this one…