Originally published 6/1/2010

Every night around 7, I give the girls a bath, dress them in clean, fresh jam jams, give them milk, brush their teeth, read them a bedtime story and watch them each drift into peaceful slumber not to wake until morning. I may just be an expert on How to Get Your Kids to Sleep.

Hmmph – who else is laughing?

hot to get your kids to sleep

Bedtime in this house is a three ring circus and the animals are quickly outsmarting the Ringmaster. In fact, if it were not for the fleeting hope that tonight might be different, the Ringmaster would be at the bar on the corner. Every night. Starting at 7. Every night.

But seeing as I birthed these wild animals, I have a legal obligation to put them to bed and make sure they get sleep. Lest they be a cranky, tired burden on those who come in contact with them the next day. Plus, I need a break. And, generally, my husband needs some attention as well lest he be a cranky,whiny baby the next day. But I digress… back to the big top.

So around 7 every night, I take a deep breath, gather whatever positiveness I have left in me and begin some sort of bedtime ritual. Because I hear routine is key. I also hear that drinking can be good for your liver. But, again, I digress.

Anyway – baths are loud, frantic and a general mess. And the kids are there too. But, somehow, I get three heads washed, thirty toes scrubbed and maybe even a laugh or two at their antics.

After chasing the kids around to towel, diaper and dress them with whatever mismatching costume I can find on their floors, we attempt to settle in to relax prior to bedtime. This can consist of a multitude of calming activities such as a book, a quiet show about sleepy time, or hanging from the trapeze while eating bananas and beating on each other with sticks. I said “attempt” a calming activity, I never said I succeeded at it.

I will say, I am blessed with a middle child who is a sleep lover like my husband. I can tell Sarah that it is bedtime and she’ll take her milk, curl up in her bed and I will only hear from her when she runs out of milk. Yes, she takes her milk to bed. Yes, I refill it over night. Yes, I know this is wrong. Yes, I feel awful.

OK – I am over it now.

The baby used to be easy. Stick a boob in her mouth, watch her eyes roll back into warm milk heaven and in 7 – 10 minutes, wala – a sleeping baby ready to transfer to the crib not to wake for at least 2 hours. The fact that I was repeating this activity 3-4 times a night never phased me… mainly because I was too tired to look up the meaning of “phase”.

But now the baby is weaning and the boob is not magical and dangling it in front of her only results in mammary scratches and an attempt to bite so we reserve it for when she is so tired, she lacks the energy to hurt me. Usually this is after two or three attempts to place her in the crib, listen to her scream for 10 minutes, walk in to be engulfed in detrimental Mommy Guilt, and a serious questioning of my ability to put anyone to sleep. Maybe I should read them my blog…. hmmmmm…. oops- I digress again – so sorry.

After about an hour though,she remembers the boob is magical and the baby drifts off to a peaceful slumber – well – at least for a few hours anyway. But still – peace from two rooms is so close to heaven that Jesus leans down to give me a high five.

Now to the lion that needs to be tamed in the center ring.

My eldest. What can I say about my Katie? The child was born with eyes wide open after a long and painful 21 hour labor and emergency c- section and has yet to close them. So bedtime is not her forte, shall we say…

We have tried bribery, threats, time outs, toy removal, privilege removal, begging, co-sleeping, doing nothing and just plain praying and nothing – NOTHING -works for this kid. She finally passes out around 10 to 11pm every night! No matter what we do during the day – with or without a nap – every night. Not once a week – EVERY NIGHT! And she has always been like this. Since the day she was born – no kidding.

So we take advice. All advice – from anyone who will give it. Our pediatrician, our friends, the homeless man on the corning who always looks like he gets a good nights sleep… ANYone!

“Remove all the toys from her room, sit outside her door, and every time you hear her, quietly place her back into bed. Eventually she will get the idea.”

We did that – one month later – she goes to bed at 9:55. And my back hurts. And the stone floor is hard. And I have to pee.

“Prepare her for bedtime by discussing it prior to it happening.”

We do that. Now it has gotten to the point that we start preparing her for bedtime as we are saying good morning. “Good morning baby! Now let’s remember that in 8 hours it will be bedtime again and we will go to bed as asked and no fighting.”


“Get her up every morning at 6am regardless and she’ll eventually go to bed earlier because she is so tired.”

I am usually going to bed at 6am. I’m tiuuurrrdddd!!! DO I HAVE to?

“Give her Benedryl.”


And my favorite – from my husband; “Just let her wear herself out and put herself to bed.

Yes, honey, let’s do that. How about YOU stay up until she goes to bed. I will go curl up in the nice, warm bed and drift off to a peaceful sleep and stay asleep through the night. Then, in the morning, when she has stayed up past midnight, and you’ve been up all night retrieving milk and calming your other two children, causing you to be up almost every hour on the hour, YOU take that energy you have and clean the house, do the laundry, tend to the kids (one of which is now overly tired and cranky from being up too late), manage the household bills and shopping lists, and take care of the dogs. And while you are at it, could you teach your children something useful and take time out to play with them too? And I will go to work.

Sound like a deal? NO??? Then BITE ME!!

So here I sit, at midnight, finally finishing a blog about the most stressful time of my day, relishing in the fact that she went to bed tonight closer to 10 than 11. Wondering what to do tomorrow night to make this process easier on us all…

Knowing that she gets it from me – who will probably be up another few hours.

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