We did it.
But how did we do it?
Well, that is the million dollar question. We don’t exactly know.
“Blake” has been back with us this weekend and we did it.
We got him to go straight to sleep both nights.
No “I want another drink”.
No “I need to go to the toilet”.
No coming downstairs.
Most importantly….No howling.
So what did we do?
The answer is, we did a LOT of things differently.
We asked his PSW and social worker what to do. They actually didn’t help much other than to tell us that he does the ‘howling’ thing every night at respite, it’s not just for us (should that be a sigh of relief for us? or should we be frustrated that no one has tried to get to the bottom of this? I’ll do both!)
We asked our PSW what we could do.
We read books.
We racked our brains.
What we came up with was this:
From our PSW and the team at our agency – yes, a team approach. She asked around and they came up with – the little man is confused and not able to express himself, so when he’s unwinding in bed he’s thinking about loving being here and having fun with us, but misses his mum at the same time and can’t process that mixture of emotions.
Also, the fact that he comes from both a big bio-family and foster-family, then suddenly here he is an only child with 2 adults paying him attention could also be overwhelming him a little bit.
So, night 1, after dinner we had a chat about what changes were going to take place this weekend and why.
We explained that we were going to get him to have a bath at night instead of a shower in the morning, that he could have 2 short stories, or 2 chapters of a book, and what the ‘reward’ would be the next day for going straight to sleep.
Night 1, argh, who would have thought it would take him 20 minutes to get into the bath? We certainly didn’t. (that’s a story for another time) But, bathe he did, sort of. Out he got, and ready for bed, 2 chapters of his book and with a reminder about all the fun for tomorrow at the farm if he went straight to bed, we crossed EVERYTHING, and waited.
Waiting, waiting, waiting. 5 minutes, nothing. 10 minutes, nothing. 20 minutes, are we all clear?
It seems we were.
We checked on him just as we were going to bed, and wrapped tightly in his little arms was Snoopy. My poor old teddy, who is closer to 40 than either of us would like to admit to.
Night 2, and this time we’re sure we’re in for a long night as a couple of hours before bedtime “Blake” had a bit of a meltdown. We figured with our good fortune the previous night and the meltdown, we were in for trouble for sure. But we stuck with what worked last night.
Bath (straight in tonight, yah!) 2 chapters of a book and then bed.
As we were leaving his room a little voice followed us with “I miss my mum”
My turn to handle this one.
I went and sat on the other bed in his room and we had a quiet chat about how it must be confusing, having so much fun, and missing mum. “Blake’s” reply? “Yeah. Can mum come to respite too so we can have fun together?”
Instead, we agreed he should go to sleep and dream of all the fun things we did during the day so he can tell mum all about them the next day and Ta Dah!
Straight to sleep….again!!!
So what was the magic?
Well, it might have been the bath.
It might have been spending almost an hour unwinding and getting ready for bed.
It might have been us empathising and verbalising his conflicting feelings.
But, my money is on Snoopy.
Both nights Snoopy was in a bear hug, so Snoopy, this one’s for you buddy.
Thank you for all my good nights of sleep as a little one, and now thank you for helping our little one get some sleep.