Since Ari was 20 months old he was able to climb out of the crib. Once he realized he could do this fantastic trick, all bets were off. The next logical solution was to ditch the crib and get him a real bed. I tried that and it worked…for a while. Then he started having night terrors, and eventually he found his way into my bed, along with Simon the cat. On top of that, I became pregnant with Samara, when Ari turned two, and I started freaking out about how I would continue to co-sleep once she was born. Co-sleeping was fine while I was pregnant and too tired to deal with putting Ari back in his own bed…until Ari decided that he was an insomniac. Thankfully, my friend Leigh offered a great solution of audio books, which seemed to calm him down enough to sleep at night…for a while.
After Samara was born, nobody in this house, including the cats, really slept more than three hours at a time for about seven months. Thankfully, Samara sleeps through the night now, so I decided it was high time to get Ari in his own bed. I’ve been so cranky during the day because, when you co-sleep with a 3-year-old (who’s also a bed hogger) you don’t exactly feel chipper in the morning. It makes me feel like singing that song “Oh how I hate to get up in the morning, oh how I hate to get out of bed!”
When I was at the Dans’ surprise engagement party
, Dan P.’s mother and I got to talking. She’s a retired early childhood educator. I told her about my sleep woes.
“I can’t get him out of my bed!” I lamented to her.
“How old is Ari now?” She asked
“Three…” I said shamefully.
“Oh…yeah, it’s gonna be tough.” She said “He’s used to sleeping in your bed. You might try a behavior modification thing. You could get some really cool stickers, and give him a sticker each time he sleeps in his bed. If he sleeps in his bed for long periods give him more stickers.”
Fucking brilliant! Why didn’t I think of this before?
So I went out and got these:
The first night of my behavior modification bed trial, I was extremely nervous. Would it work? Would stickers be enough to get this kid into his own bed?
At dinner time, I told Ari:
“Tonight, you’re going to sleep in your bed. And if you stay in your bed, in the morning you get a sticker!”
His face lit up.
“So where are you going to sleep tonight?” I reiterated
“In my bed.” He confirmed.
“And what happens if you stay in your bed?”
“I get a sticker!”
This occurred on Monday.
As we were approaching bedtime, I could tell he was feeling trepidatious about sleeping in his bed. So I upped the ante.
“And…if you sleep in your bed the whole week…on Friday, you get a car.” His face lit up again. I’m all about bribery if it works. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t talking about buying him a BMW. I meant a matchbox car. Target usually has them in the dollar bins.
So, he climbed into his bed, and I read him “Frog and Toad Are Friends”, as I do every night. And then as I was ready to leave his room, he became fearful again and began to cry. I started to get nervous because Samara was in the crib 10 feet away, and I didn’t want her to wake up.
“What’s wrong?” I asked “Are you afraid?”
“I’m afraid of the monster.”
“There’s no monster,” I said confidently “Mommy is not going to let anything happen to you. I am right here.” I rubbed his head and He sighed with relief.
That night, he slept in his bed…for about an hour, then he climbed out and found his way into mine. The next morning he got one sticker because he made the effort of sleeping in his own bed.
Tuesday evening, I reminded him of the deal. If he slept in his bed he would get a sticker. Once again, I upped the ante.
“Last night you stayed in your bed for an hour, if you stay in your bed all night, you get two stickers!”
Once again his face lit up.
“And I get a car on Friday!” He said beaming.
“That’s if you sleep in your bed all week.” I reminded him.
“Oh…yeah!” He replied.
That night he slept in his bed until 4am…when Samara woke up.
Then he climbed into mine.
The next night, Wednesday, he slept in his bed most of the night…until he wet the bed and had to relocate.
Thursday night, Wil successfully put Ari to bed in his own room. Ari slept in his bed until about 3am and then…with the stealth of a ninja, he sneakily found his way into mine.
Well, it’s a process. He’s slowly finding his way into his own bed, with the help of stickers and bribery. Today he gets a car! Here are the stickers he’s collected this far:
Today, I am feeling triumphant, and a little more well-rested.
So tell me, do your kids sneak into your bed? Do you have a sleep woe story to share?