Let me back up...
Nathan didn't sleep in his own crib until he was 16 months old, and even then it was only for half the night. Eventually he stayed in his room until 2 or 3am. When we moved to our current home in June 2010, he started staying in his own room all night, which means until somewhere between 5 and 6am.
Bedtime used to be a nightmare. It took me years, years, to get him to fall asleep within in a few minutes and stay asleep for most of the night. I do this by standing with him. Sometimes I hold his hand.
I am fully aware that this sets the stage for sleep issues and I'm not doing him any favors. I understand that I'm not solving the problem long term. But did you read his sleep history? I'm tired. It's been a long almost 6 years of messed up sleep and the pregnancy was no prize either so really I haven't had consistent good sleep since May of 2006. You'll forgive me for aiding and abetting.
Anyway, since Kindergarten started, Nathan's fear of the dark, which started out normal, has gotten out of control. He is now afraid to be in a well-lit room that is next to a dark room.
I took this picture, no flash, sitting on my couch. It was brighter when he was up because the TV was on. But he made me turn the dining room light on because it was too dark.
I understand not wanting to walk into a dark room. But a fully lit one? Come on.
Also, see that round, gray thing on his far wall? That's a Moon In My Room. That lights up like a full moon and it, along with the light on his fish tank, a battery operated fake candle, a nightlight that projects SpongeBob's face on the ceiling, a spinning disco light and the hall light (that light from the doorway) all stay on until he's asleep. And he's complaining it's too dark. I could read in there it's so bright for crying out loud.
When he falls asleep I turn off the hall light. The last few nights it's been back on by 1am. Again, I know I'm not doing anything to stop his behavior, but I really just want us all to go to sleep.
He told me he's afraid of the darkness outside the windows so I close the blinds. Other than that, he can't name his fear or expand upon it.
I'm at my wit's end. I can't leave him in a fully lit room to do something else or else he's freaking out. When (not if) he wakes up in the night he's afraid and can't go back to sleep.
On the one hand, I feel badly that he's so scared. I hate that. On the other hand, come on. He is afraid in rooms that practically have flood lights in them simply because it's night.
My parents' approach for me was to shut up, suck it up and grow up. It's dark, get over it. I don't want to take that approach with my son.
I am, however, losing patience rapidly.
Anyone care to weigh in on this one? Normal developmental milestone? Turn on all the lights? Turn off all the lights until he's desensitized? (I'm not serious about that last one.)
If you have an idea, I'm open to hear it. Also, if you'd like to chip in on the electric bill from 10,000 nightlights, I accept checks and major credit cards.