Sunday, November 29, 2009

Uses for Clove Oil

For anyone who has suffered with a child who refuses to stay in bed at night or naps, this is going to sound crazy, but until two nights ago Ada had NEVER gotten out of bed on her own. She has let us know when she wants to get up, mostly by yelling out or kicking the wall, but until this week she never, ever got up out of bed without Chris or me coming in to her room first. Even when she went diaper-free last year and she was regularly wetting the bed in the morning, she would just lie there until we came to get here. I don't think this was so much a sign of her compliance as it has been a weird way for her to control us.

I mention this, of course, because two nights ago Ada came into our room in the middle of the night. She'd had a nightmare, and as we'd never considered what to do when our eldest appeared at our bedside, we brought her into bed with us. It wasn't perfect, but we all slept reasonably well for the next few hours. The next night, Ada woke up at 2:30 with a wet bed. Chris got up to help her, but then she refused to go back to bed. I woke up to them arguing, and by the time I collected myself enough to engage, Chris had brought her into our room saying that she could sleep with me and he would sleep in her bed. Not perfect, but Chris decided that: (a) he wasn't going to convince Ada to sleep in her bed; (b) he needed to do something so that he could get back to sleep; and (c) three in our bed was not a great solution two nights in a row.

In the morning Chris and I agreed that we needed to talk to Ada about the fact that she would not be sleeping with us again, and the talk needed to happen before bedtime (when such a chat would be clouded by fatigue on her part and a desire to get her to sleep on ours). We talked to Ada about the bed situation during dinner, without a lot of receptivity on her part. At bedtime we got through the bath and books, and then Ada declared she was not going to sleep. I declared that she would be. She said she could not, as when she went to bed there were monsters in her bed. After first trying the "there are no monsters in your bed" gambit, I decided to follow a different course. I asked her if she wanted some anti-monster spray that we could shpritz around her room. I held my breath, waiting for her to call bullshit on the idea of monster repellant. Amazingly, she agreed to get some spray.

Clove Oil: Hated By Monsters, Loved By Hippies

We headed downstairs, where I grabbed some clove oil and searched briefly for our spray bottle. When I could not find the bottle, I grabbed a clean cloth diaper and we headed back upstairs. I put some oil on the cloth and started to wipe the side of her bedframe.

"No, the monsters don't come on the bed there."

"Where do they come on?"

"They are just on the bed."

I wiped the sheets, pillow and comforter with the clove-doused cloth. Then, with Ada's approval, I rubbed the cloth on the head and foot boards. Ada thought we should also wipe my bed, saying "when I was in your bed I saw a monster there too." I wiped my comforter, pillow and sheets, focusing on the top of the bed where Ada said she'd seen the monster.

We returned to her room, where I told her she should take the cloth. That way, if she saw a monster she could put the cloth on her chest to keep the monster away. Ada asked "why don't monsters like this?"

"I'm not sure. Maybe it smells too strong for them. I kind of like it, though."

"Me too."

And then Ada got into her bed, I told her a woodchuck story, and left her with my usual "I love you" and other soothing words. Now I am crossing my fingers. I hope that the smell of the clove oil helps, that it is strong enough to make her feel it is working. I love my little girl and I hate for her to be scared. And yes, I hate to wake up at 2:30 on a night the babies actually sleep through.

I wrote this on Friday night. Ada slept through the night and was not eaten by monsters. Now it is Saturday night, and Chris and I have been talking to, arguing with and practically wrestling Ada. She says she needs us to sleep. She is refusing to go to bed, and wants to sleep in our bed. She says that the monsters will eat her. (I tried the logic of "if the monsters had eaten you last night, you wouldn't be here now." This worked not at all.) I finally left the room, figuring that my presence was making things worse. After a full 40 minutes of arguments with Ada, Chris finally told her he was done and walked out.

What do you do when a child refuses to go to sleep? What should we do?


  1. Make her put on the clove oil herself this time. But maybe cut it with Safflo first. This habit could get preety expensive.

    In truth if someone doesn't sleep around here I am all 'that's fine but Mommy is going now, see ya' then I run upstairs 14 times to repeat it. not a good system.

  2. Man, I only wish I knew. My little ones are still coming in to sleep with me -- and I'm getting pretty exhausted. But you're right to work on this the minute it becomes an issue. It's so much harder later.

  3. I had a book as a kid about a NICE monster who lived under the bed. He was helpful and kind and fluffy.

    I imagine, though, that you already have the best tool there is, though, as I cannot imagine someone more rational in the face of this than Chris.

  4. It must be something in the air despite the fact that we are on different coasts. We had a really rough night on Saturday with Lizzie. She wouldn't fall asleep unless I was in bed with her and when I tried to leave she cried and said she want to go to bed with us (which she hadn't done since the twins arrive). So she came to bed with us but wouldn't fall asleep. I tried going back to her room with her but that didn't work either. Finally at about 5 am we unceremoniously dumped her back in her room and she proceeded to scream and throw herself against the door for awhile before she finally passed out. Then last night she woke up again and wouldn't fall asleep until we laid with her. Thankfully though she didn't wake up again. No mention of monsters though...

  5. For the initial going-to-bed part, we use a lame combination of staying/cuddling/listening to music, and on desperate nights leaving the room and letting him look at books by himself until WHO KNOWS WHEN.

    For middle-of-the-nights, I am afraid I don't even notice when a small boy squeezes into my bed.

  6. If and when you ever figure it out, let me know! My son who is 9yr sleeps in our bed every weekend. I end up in the guest room.

  7. Violet occassionally claims to be afraid of the dark, but we've spent most of her childhood making friends of the monsters. All the Sesame Street characters are technically monsters, that's a good place to start.

    My most recent trick for getting Vi to stay in bed at the start of the night is to put her blankets in the dryer and make them nice and warm. It's hard to resist sleep when you are under that kind of warmth.

    Unfortunately, if Vi climbs into our bed we are powerless against her. It's checkmate, baby wins.

  8. If the monster issue arises in our house, this is what we do...We don't tell her that the monsters are not there, instead we tell her that if they come near and bother her, she should do the one thing they hate the most... Tickle them. We put up our hands and practice tickling the monsters and I pretend to see them laugh and leave. That, with a nightlight has worked. She seems satisfied with that and doesn't get up at night.

  9. I wish I knew! Henry is still "afraid of the dark." Fortunately, Mia is not so he has his little sister do the dirty work of turning on lights ahead of him in the dark mornings and evenings. I applaud his use of resources but that's all I can say about that. Both of my kids still have hard time falling asleep in different ways. Henry is out super fast but needs someone near for those crucial 5 minutes. Mia takes for-freakin-ever and it's a different story every night. If they come try to get in bed with us I tend to take them back to bed and lay with Mia (bottom bunk) until she is asleep again. Henry asks to have his feet rubbed and I leave while he is awake. Someday I tell myself. Someday.

  10. I feel so bad for the adults who raised me, I was constantly waking them up, I've never been a sleeper. Still not. If she doesn't already have a nightlight, that could help. Maybe you could give her something to use, a bell, canned air, or something if monsters show up (although maybe that would backfire), so she feels like she can take some sort of action. Could she listen to music or radio on an ipod that might focus her attention elsewhere? I've never been able to sleep without some form of distraction from the random anxiety, I always listen to podcasts when I have to sleep somewhere without a TV to trick my mind into relaxing. No, it's not ideal, but it works.

  11. Oh, I have a little plastic battery operated lantern from ikea that releases very dim light, she might like something like that as a bedside light she could hold up to take a look around.

  12. I would often fall asleep reading at bedtime before my kids did.

    One son often woke up with night terrors. I was afraid of having him never want to leave our bed, so I would lay down (and fall asleep often) in his bed, which wasn't that much better. He went from screaming in his room for help to coming to wake us up in our room as he got older. It all got very routine after awhile--we'd talk about it in the morning and often he didn't remember.

    He seemed to like the dream catcher he got from one of his grandmothers.

    I think eventually he was able to undertand that the bad dreams were stories that he was telling himself and that he could take over the story and make it less scary or choose to wake up and start over sleeping without the bad dream.

  13. Harper is a constant battle. wish I had any advice. stick with what works but understand any day it can change.

    lately for us, Harper starts in our room and I move her when we go to bed. the past few nights it has worked.

    but now that I wrote that she'll probably wake up and be in bed with us all night (furiously knocking on wood right now).