Stay in Bed, I Said!

Bedtime and Eddie have never been friends.

As a baby, he would not fall asleep unless someone held him or rocked him to sleep.  Even when he had fallen asleep, if you placed him in the crib just so, he would wake up like he had been faking it all along and start screaming his head off.

Cort used to do the “arm check” to see if he was really out. You know, where you lift and arm and if it just limply falls with a thud, he’s out. Put him to bed and back slowly away.

The rule was that if Eddie falls asleep anywhere? That is where he sleeps. And whoever wakes him up gets a punch to the throat by the strung out momma.

Wait. What?

Oh right. Sleep.

Well he does better now.

I mean, we are over three years into this, and we can get him to nap with no fight.  In fact, he asks for it and then stays sleeping for an average of two hours each afternoon. Yes, it’s as glorious as it sounds. I think I may have decided no one living in this house is allowed to NOT nap in the afternoon.

Naps for all! Weeee!

Anyway, night bedtime is the opposite of easy. It is all the swear words rolled into one big ugly mess of blah.

Night bedtime and Eddie are enemies.

We have always had a set routine.  And even though bedtime is not pleasant, if we get off that routine for whatever reason? Bedtime becomes akin to what I imagine hell to be like.

Since he realized he could get up from the big boy bed any old time he pleased (it actually took about a month…I know, right?), he has become the master of excuses.

Seriously. I can’t make this crap up. When he comes upstairs with a new excuse, I could swear he has a team of sitcom writers down there telling him what to do next.  And then I check for video cameras in my living room because…come on with these things:

“Mom. I need sleepy socks on and I can’t do it.”

“Mom. There are weird shadows.”

“Mom. I found this booger.”

“Mom. I peed. Little help?” (said with his pull up in one hand and his balled up jammies in the other…as he stands there nude.)

“Mom. I needed this in bed? That all right?” (said with a pinwheel in one hand and a flashlight in the other.)

“Mom. I had a bad dream.” (even though he has not fallen asleep yet.)

“Mom. I need to stay up for 100 days.”

“Mom. I can’t sleep. I don’t know how.”

“Mom. I pooped in my pull up.”

I swear he does that last one ON PURPOSE just because he gets to stay up longer than if he poops on the can.

Anyway, we couldn’t stand it anymore.  We had to figure out a way for him to say in his dang bed. If for no other reason that bedtime SHOULD NOT TAKE OVER AN HOUR EVERY NIGHT! (yes, that required shouting.)

So what to do, what to do?  We ultimately decided to combine a few of Eddie’s most favorite things: 1) being in charge. 2) charts and stickers and 3) treats.

My kid is such a sell-out for a sticker and some candy.  It would be sad if it wasn’t so awesome.

It goes like this.  If he stays in bed (unless he has to get up to pee or poop), in the morning he gets to put a sticker on the chart.  Once he fills a row (there are boxes in a row, so a week if he plays his cards…er stickers…right), he gets to go out on a “treat date” with either me or Cort.

Not only does he love to stick a sticker on the chart, but he loves counting how many more boxes until the treat.

The first week he went with Cort on some errands and chose a Pez dispenser.

The next week he picked a cookie at the “donut shop” with Cort.

This past week he and I went Christmas shopping and he chose a donut hole at the “donut shop.”

Plus he absolutely LOVES going out with just me or just Cort.  He feels so big and proud.

(also let’s pause for a moment to look at that photo again. I mean, he is the perfect blend of boy and baby right now, right? The lashes and the lingering baby knuckle-dimples? swoon. I love this boy so much.)

The thing that sealed it was we let him be in charge.  If he wants to look at books in his room after we put him to bed, he may. But he needs to turn out the light and go to bed when he is done.

It’s all him.

And he loves it.

Just like potty training, we have to learn to release a bit to him, let him show us how to parent him, and then do our best to guide him.

It hasn’t been perfect.  It still takes a bit some nights.

If he gets himself thinking about something that bothers him, he will turn his light on and sit on his bed crying until I will either rock him or lay in bed with him while he talks it out.

But we are working on it.

What is bedtime like for your kids? Wait…if it’s easy breezy I don’t want to know!  Just kidding…you can tell me. Charlie is super easy…right now. I’m sure he will change that up for me the second Eddie gets easy, right?

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. Was planning to leave a comment on the terribleness that is my child’s bedtime, but I have to go make a sticker chart instead… I’ll be back later…

  2. My 9 yr old has anxiety at night. Ever sincehe was born, he didn’t sleep well or easily. And believe me; we tried everything. As he’s gotten older, it’s become easier, because we can reason w/him, but we still have our moments. And w/true anxiety, I know as well as anybody that it’s not his fault and that the mind can sure get itself in a twisted mess sometimes.

  3. A little less than two months after transitioning to a big boy bed, HJ now realizes he can GET OUT OF BED. I think a sticker chart is what we might need. Thank you for this!

  4. I have to say I was pretty blessed. My kids didn’t do too much of that when we sent them to bed. Of course we played them HARD all day and when bathtime rolled around they were already pretty well zonked.

  5. Maybe I need to try a sticker chart again. Last time we tried it the concept of getting the sticker the next morning was too far removed from his action (staying in his room) for it to work. Maybe now that he’s a bit older it could work. Hmm.

    Common excuses at our house:
    “mama, I can’t sleep very much more” (umm … not asleep yet….)
    “my toe hurts”
    “I need a bandaid”

  6. Um, Ill be making a sticker chart ASAP. B has always been so easy going to bed. I tell him its bedtime, and he just walks into his room and climbs in bed. C? Dear God, that boy is going to give me premature grey hair. He gets up at least 50 times, and cries and screams every time I put him back to bed. Im hoping he isnt to young for the sticker chart, but its worth a shot.

  7. As I read that first paragraph it felt like you were describing my 7 month old son. I’m currently in the trenches of can’t-see-the-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel infant sleep. When did Eddie start being able to go to sleep without being rocked? I know all kids are different, but I’m a first time mom, and I just have no clue if we’re going to have to keep rocking him until he’s a year old or three years old. Any insights are greatly appreciated!

  8. We had some issues with our youngest when it came time to bedtime. She didn’t necessarily get out of bed a million times but things had to be done just so to get her to go to sleep and stay in bed! It took a few months but she’s fine now and we haven’t had any major issues. Hope the chart/treats continue to work and Eddie will be able to go to sleep on his own very quickly!!! 🙂

  9. Whispers….my son is awesome. He goes right to bed when we tell him to. And get this, he will actually tell us when he wants to go to bed. Boom. I think that since we dealt with 4 months of colic hell, we deserve a good sleeping child.
    Although he does sleep talk which is more creepy for us than anything.

  10. My older daughter still needs to be rocked before bed, or have cuddles in her bed in order for there to be any chance that she stays in bed (she turns 4 in January). She has NEVER wanted to go to sleep, but luckily, once she is asleep, she’s done til morning. Kinda. Ever since the hubs and I went on an 8 day vacation, I find her sneaking into my bed. Most of the time, none of us are actually awake, she’s just checking to make sure we’re still there. The baby (13mos)? She throws a fit when she’s tired because she does NOT want to sleep. Ever. As soon as she’s had “enough” sleep, she’s awake and trying to convince us it’s time to play. This happens at least twice per night, but the first is usually before I ever make it to bed, so I only get up with her once. Oh, how I wish they each had their own room so I didn’t have to get up…

  11. OK the pirates stickers are killing me! Ha. Zaid was easy at first. At three, he still is some nights, but it’s usually the nights when the sisters aren’t upstairs. Initially, we used to take him up first (a full half hour or so before the girls), go through the whole routine and he’d be fine. Now though? Once we converted the bed, he too seemed unable to figure out he could just get the hell out. Now it’s all too common. If the girls are upstairs, all bets are off. He’s just unable to lie down if they’re still in and out of the bathroom, giggling, talking, listening to some idiot on the radio sing about a woman dropping it low TURN IT OFF TURN IT OFF DON’T MAKE ME COME UP THERE. Last night was less than stellar. He was in bed by 8:30 and at 10 he was still creeping to the stairs talking about somebody moved his shoes. (Ed’s finding a booger and needing to stay up for 100 days cracks me up. Zaid has just figured out that saying his stomach hurts will make me move faster.)

    We all do what works for us, right? I’m glad your sticker chart is working. I’m thinking of just going back to his going up earlier than the girls because seriously, it is kind of crazy to expect him to not want to play or be up when they’re still up.

  12. I think I am more afraid of the crib-to-bed transition than any other change so far. I just know that Ryan will not be easily persuaded to stay in that darn bed. Love the sticker/treat idea. Ryan is a definite sucker for “special treats” (or, as he calls them, “trick-or-treats”).

  13. Oh, how I love his excuses! Your little man has come up with some very creative thoughts. Do you ever wonder if they dream these up during the day so that they are armed for the bedtime battle?

  14. We had MEGA bed battles when Cate arrived. He was getting out of bed 100 times a night before going to sleep and getting up in the middle of the night and so we were staying in his room until he fell asleep. And we just couldn’t take it any more of that either. So we did the unthinkable. We gated him in his room. We had a couple of really rough nights but I am now the proud mama of a three year old who stays in his bed after we read to him and sleeps through the night again.

    This doesn’t make me a bad mom right?

  15. The sticker chart is a great idea! Monkey goes to bed with no fuss these days, but it wasn’t without drama. He would come out crying, looking for us, and we had to repeatedly and firmly escort him back to bed. He gets it now, which is fab. Eddie will get there, you’ll see!

  16. My boys are 6 and I still have sleep issues with one of them. It was so bad this summer I had to sit outside his door and stop him everytime until he’d give it up. (That led to me falling asleep on the floor outside their room, but it worked!)

    Once he’s asleep at night, he doesn’t often stay asleep. He tends to get up and play during the night without us knowing. Starting kindergarten helped. He’s been so much more tired it’s really made it easier!

    I’m sure kindergarten isn’t the answer you’re looking for!