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Fostering | Bedtimes

Helen’s Fostering Blogs


At the very beginning Beth would do anything to keep herself awake, she would be up and down the stairs until around 10.30-11pm most nights and even when she stopped coming downstairs as we ourselves had gone to bed you could always hear her tinkering about in her bedroom.

We quickly learnt that bedtimes were going to be a big stumbling block to work on.  If the bags under her eyes and her anxiety around bedtimes were anything to go by it was clear Beth had not slept properly for a very long time.

For many months Beth would never sleep under the duvet only on top and with a blanket over her, she would go from wanting all of the lights on to wanting to be left in complete darkness.  She would change what end of the bed she slept at each night or make a camp on the floor.  She would do anything to keep herself awake, constantly fiddling around with things in her bedroom and finding any reason to come back downstairs to ask or tell us something.

At the beginning it wasn’t unusual to find her asleep on the floor, which would appear as if she had finally become so exhausted that she just fell asleep where she was.

It was hard to know what to do at the beginning.  We knew that the likelihood was it was simply going to take time.  We were aware there was almost defiantly many reasons for her inability to settle and get to sleep.  We just had to try many different things to help her.

Firstly, we made sure her bedroom was a place she wanted to be. I quickly brought things that I thought she would like, from pretty fairy lights, photos of her family, pictures and ornaments of animals, unicorns and mermaids.  I purchased fun and soft bedding and lots of lovely fluffy blankets and pillows.  We made sure that bedtimes were consistent and approached in a happy and calm manor.  I would read both Beth and Harry a bedtime story before bed and would chat happily with them until it was time to say goodnight.

Over a period of around 9 months we tried many things, such as allowing her to listen to mediation music, to sitting with her stroking her hair until she fell asleep, she went through a phase whereby she wore an eye mask, all of which appear to be working for a very short periods of time before it didn’t anymore.  Then all of a sudden she just started going to bed and just going to sleep and this has continued to this day. Of course every now and then she will struggle, normally if something has happened that day that might have unsettled her, but for us it was clear that Beth just needed time to feel safe and settled and I’d like to think that the work we have done with her around her history and the worries she had has finally paid off.

For me it was probably the thing I found most difficult, because it meant we had little to no time to ourselves each evening for many months.  Normally by the time Beth had finally got to sleep I would be off to bed myself.

Was I surprised a little 9-year-old girl who had been through so much had trouble sleeping in a new home and with a different family …. no of course not!

I am just so happy that she is finally in a place that has helped her settle her mind enough so that she can finally fulfil the most basic necessity to get enough sleep to function and be happy when I wake her the next morning.

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer

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