Imagination, Nightmares, and the 2 Year Old Sleep Regression

Mark did a great job putting the lights up on our house this year. We are becoming more and more festive because we love to see Beckett get so excited. In the past I would have cringed at the thought of turning lights on before Thanksgiving, but this year we just couldn't wait. Beckett loves the lights around his closet door, he calls them "my pretty". Sounds a little like Gollum, but in a cute way. 

Part of the reason I put the lights up in his room was in hopes that it would help him to sleep better. Last week Mark was out of town for work which threw off the bed time routine because Mark puts him to sleep 90% of the time. He sings better than me, has more patience than me, and it's a good way for them to spend time together after a long day apart. Then Beckett had a nightmare one night and he keeps telling us, "bad dream, guy eat me". Well since the night of the bad dream, bed time has been everything I always swore it wouldn't be: an hour long bed time routine, holding him until he falls asleep, and the biggest broken self-imposed rule of all..... sleeping in our bed. I feel like I've tried everything and I don't know what to do. He can be dead asleep and the second I lay him down he goes into hysterics. It's hard to let him cry for a few minutes, which I'm generally not opposed to, because I know he is scared. His little imagination has just exploded over the past few weeks and although it makes playing during the day super fun, I know it is also the cause of being scared at night. 

I don't necessarily mind taking more time to put him to bed and to sing one thousand songs, and I don't even mind when he sleeps in our bed the last half of the night sometimes. Some of those moments are super sweet and precious and something I will miss when he is older, but I don't want it to become a habit. I feel like this is a little phase he is in and it will go away soon enough, but if I create those habits now they are going to be super hard to break even when the phase ends. When bed time goes smoothly we are all well rested and Mark and I get to enjoy quite a bit of time to ourselves in the evenings, but these past few nights have been tiring and stressful. 

Google has helped solve 97% of my baby and sleep concerns, but it was of no help this time. All I could find was that this is normal for 2 year olds, and to avoid creating bad habits that will last a long time as a solution to a short-term problem. Well duh, I need help figuring out a solution to avoiding creating the bad habits. You let me down this time Google. I'm sure this is one of those things I'll look back on in a year and laugh about how worked up I was about it and how it ended up not being a big deal at all, but right now it seems like a huge deal and I just hope I'm handling it the right way.