I'd say every few weeks or so the routine changes a little, but it's all pretty much the same--
Month 1- he will take a nap but won't sleep at night (unless it's in our bed)
Month 2- he won't take a nap, will go to sleep at bedtime with some reassurance, but wakes up in the middle of the night and screams until we let him into bed with us
Month 3- he will take a nap and will go to sleep at night (with A LOT of reassurance)... only to find that he had taken it upon himself to sneak into our bed and sleep there instead, which ultimately leads to him waking up scared and confused when he's back in his bed in the middle of the night. Commence screaming...
Month 4- he will take a nap but cries at the gate for an hour at bedtime each night
Month 5- sometimes will take a nap, sometimes won't, but consistently knocks the gate over in a fit of rage each night at bedtime. Bye bye gate, hello freedom to take the screaming into all other rooms of the house.
Month 6- won't take a nap, won't sleep at night and screams bloody murder through both, although the night time scream fest lasts a little longer than the naptime one (8-10:30pm)
--and, in all cases, he proceeds to wake up between 6 and 6:30am like none of it ever happened. Chipper chicken.
Well, guess what? Nice, understanding, sympathetic mom over here has taken a turn. I don't feel sorry for him anymore. I only feel sorry for me now (and Matt). I have tried everything. No, I actually mean that I have tried EVERYTHING. I think I've gotten up to page 8 or 9 on Google results for "toddler afraid of monsters."
I'm done renting movies and books that reassure kids when they have scary feelings, getting into bidding wars over Monsters, Inc. on ebay because it apparently only exists on the black market now, buying all kinds of stuffed animals and toys, tot clocks, sticker charts, hugs and back rubs, drawing pictures of nice monsters, drawing pictures of mean monsters with big red "X"s and "KEEP OUT" signs all over them, investing in about $100 worth of different kinds of nightlights, magic rubbing stones, monster spray, talking about our happy thoughts, taking beds off frames so that there's no "under the bed." I'M DONE.
I think I realized that things were really taking a turn for the worst a few nights ago when Matt and I were trying to watch the presidential debate and couldn't hear anything over Niall's blood-curdling screaming. He
I really thought we had a breakthrough yesterday, but I was once again mistaken. We bought the movie "Where the Wild Things Are" because he likes that book a lot and it's definitely a good one for changing a kid's perception of monsters. He LOVED it-- said the main monster (I think his name is Carol, which is pretty awesome) was his best friend. We've watched it twice in the less than 24 hours since then. All he has talked about is how nice Carol the monster is.
So when I tucked him in for his nap today, he immediately started crying before I had even left the room. When I gently told him that there was nothing to be afraid of because now we know that monsters are nice, he changed his story and said that it's not monsters he's afraid of now, it's just "bad guys."
So now I'm starting to think that I'm taking the bait. Is this a little bit of cute toddler manipulation going on here? There's some kind of excuse for every reassurance I give him, and now I'm turning to threats. "If you don't sit quietly in your room until the clock turns yellow, I'm taking all of your trains away!"
I highly doubt that punishment is a good tactic in persuading a child to sleep but in some sick little way, it kind of makes me feel better. I guess it makes me feel a little bit like I, the adult and parent, might actually be the one in charge here. In the meantime, I'm repeating the phrase "Embrace the chaos" over and over again inside of my head in the hopes that my blood will stop boiling and I won't spontaneously combust. It's a nice thought, though. Sure, embrace the chaos. I will certainly try.