The 5 stages of struggling through bedtime

The 5 stages of struggling through bedtime

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My daughter is willful, and that will serve her well later in life. As such, the bedtime wars have begun.

Actually, they haven’t really begun so much as they’ve continued for a couple years now. We set rules about when she was allowed to climb into bed with us, and she’s ignored those rules. Exhaustion wins out in the end, and it’s hard to pick a fight with a preschooler at three in the morning.

Over the course of the struggle, we’ve resorted to a little bit of everything to squeeze in some extra shuteye without a tiny child sleep-punching us. Here’s a breakdown of the phases we’ve gone through and the results they’ve yielded.

1: Sternness. I’m the adult here, and I will not be a slave to my kids’ schedules! When the girl comes into our room, we carry her right back to her bedroom, even if that means crying. End Result: Lots of screaming, lots of tears, no progress, and no sleep for anybody.

2: Compromise. All she really wants is the security of somebody sleeping next to her. So we'll bring her to her bed, lie down next to her for a while, and then tiptoe out when she’s finally snoring. End Result: A very sore back from falling asleep on the floor next to her bed.

3: Confrontation. You’ll either sleep in your own bed or none of us will sleep! Rather than allow her into our bed, I took her downstairs and sat with her on the couch until she went back to sleep. End Result: A lot of crying and the bold assertion that, “My bed is Mommy’s bed!”

4: Surrender. I don’t care where you sleep -- just let me get some shuteye. At this point, we just hoped that maybe someday she’d outgrow this phase. End Result: She slept well, we didn’t. Talks of buying a king-sized bed so we could get some mattress space to ourselves increased exponentially.

5: Bribery. The dentists out there will hate this, but my wife bought some lollipops and promised that our daughter could have one if she spent the whole night in her own bed. End Result: Success! Never underestimate a child’s desire for sugary treats!

Opening the bribery door, though, meant getting siblings involved. I assured our son that he’d get candy out of this deal as well, to which he suggested building a wall around her room so she couldn’t get out. I explained that building a wall would be expensive, ineffective, and counter-productive, which ended that potential fiasco.

For the first night in ages, my wife and I slept comfortably in our bed…almost. Partway through the night, our son had a nightmare. When he came to our bed, he found a nice cozy spot where our daughter normally sleeps and tucked in. I guess you can’t win them all.

Images: Woodley Wonderworks, David Mulder

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

Watch the video: Sadhguru - Learn How To Sleep Correctly. TRY IT TONIGHT! (December 2022).

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