my daughter is a girl who dreams vividly. she has told me her dreams upon waking ever since her second birthday, always so colorful, odd, and fascinating! usually pleasant or funny, sometimes scary and dark. because dreams have been a big part of her life and our talks, we decided to make a dream pillow.
especially being a therapist, i am a person who feels that it is important to confront dream content — dreams are paths that lead to our unconscious world. dreams are a safe place to explore that which is potentially scary or dangerous. for this reason, i don’t find scary dreams to be unhealthy for a child to have, rather they are often essential for the child’s psyche to process information. however, all of us parents know that being afraid of the dark and/or having nightmares can be really horrible for a child. we do wish N “sweet dreams” when she goes to sleep, and we always hope that she has a peaceful night. it is in that spirit that we decided to make the dream pillow — for a peaceful slumber and to usher N into her own fanciful dreamworld each night.
we had a lot of rectangles of fabric leftover from the food flags we made. N has been asking to paint on them, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity. we set up our fabric paints, and i taped two rectangles of fabric to her art board.
then i wrote a list while N dictated the things she would like to see in her dreams: “mommy and daddy, owls, birds, flowers, trees, ladybugs…” after the list, we made a plan to put the images of the three of us on one side of the pillow, and a nature scene on the other side that would incorporate the other items.
N did a great job painting all of the things from her list onto the fabric. she had so much fun with it. we even painted on stamps to stamp her name onto one side of the pillow, and used a bird stamp for the bird image on the nature side of the pillow. N noted that the nature side of the pillow reminded her of our backyard, where we always have birds, we have a tall tree with an owl statue under it, and colorful porchulaca flowers.
i hung the fabric to dry outside in the play house.
after it was dry, i ironed it on the backside, against a rag, to set the paint. then i hand-washed it in the sink with our natural detergent. (you could probably throw it in your washing machine, but i didn’t because these rectangles of linen had frayed ends so i didn’t want them to unravel.)
next we picked some lavender from our backyard to stuff into the pillow, as lavender is known to be an herb that helps with relaxation and peaceful sleeping. we used a few of the stems which were already dry for the pillow, and we hung the rest of the lavender harvest to dry to make sachets and such in the future. (you could also include chamomile, mugwort, valerian, or catnip, if you wanted other sleep-inducing herbs, but not all of those smell pleasant and you should research all herbs before using on or near your child.)
as a family, N, her dad, and i wrote our dreamtime wishes for N onto soft, handmade paper with sparkly and colorful pens. for example, i included “sparkly sunshine magic” and “hugs and kisses” on a couple of mine. two of N’s said “owls” and “mom & dad.” craig wrote “magical powers” and “exploring new places” as part of his wishes for her. we included these inside of the dream pillow, to infuse it with good intentions.
we also put a small amethyst stone inside of the pillow, as amethyst is said to have a calming and protective energy that makes is good for any type of dream work. it helps overcome insomnia and/or nightmares, and may help one to awaken refreshed and energized.
i sewed up three sides of the pillow on my sewing machine, and then N stuffed the goodies inside. i chose to keep the frayed edges visible on the outside to give it a natural feel, rather than sewing the painted sides facing each other and inverting the fabric. you could do it either way.
once it was all sewn up, we brought it into N’s room before naptime. she was sooo excited about it and loves the smell of the dried lavender!
as N knows this isn’t the sort of pillow she will lay on or even cuddle with, she chose to keep it on her headboard, right beside a little guy i made for her out of some of her old baby clothes. that way she can smell the pillow before going to sleep, as well as sleep knowing it’s right above her head. and speaking of old baby clothes, this project can be done with any fabric or any old clothes you may have. think about upcycling some of those old onesies with cute patterns. you can even skip the fabric painting step and focus on the idea of making this into a great sleep talisman or medicine bag.
while we’re on the topic of sending your children off to sleep in a peaceful way, and infusing their dreams with a little magic, i would like to recommend a wonderful bedtime book that a friend recently told me about, called starbright–meditations for children. it has amazing ideas for talking your child through soothing visualizations before they drift off to sleep. this is just one of many dream-related art projects to come – stay tuned! sweet lavender dreams to you and yours!