The Battle of Bedtime

55 hours 21 minutes and 6 seconds. That’s about how long I have figured my life has been wasted in the Battle of Bedtime, a sport that is gaining popularity in our house.  My son, Biz e-Baby2, is going for the MVP award or something on the opposing team, because that kid has been relentless. He’s running fake plays and screens all over the place.  Just when I think I have his number, he goes long for the Hail Mary and schools me.

I’m a sore loser.  Therefore, losing is not an option anymore.

The line of scrimmage

For the last three to four weeks, I have spent approximately 2 hours putting my son to bed five days a week.  Fortunately, my husband is home to help the other two days or else I’d have thrown in the towel by now. The process starts roughly around 8:00 p.m. and ends around 10:00 p.m.


Why did this start all of the sudden, you ask? It all seems to have been triggered when we switched him from his crib to a toddler bed. He was beginning to scale the bars of his crib to escape. Sometimes, he would just get stuck straddling the frame and couldn’t manage to get his other leg over.  Those times, he cried out for help. However, a couple of times he was mildly successful in getting out of the bed, but actually fell out on the floor. Generally, the landing wasn’t pleasant.  My husband and I decided as a matter of safety, we had to get him lower to the floor.  Hence, the crib was converted into a toddler bed. He was 20 months old.

Surprisingly, he did well the first week.  I assume he didn’t know he could get out and didn’t test the boundaries.  Of course, things changed at some point and here I am now writing about it. My silence has finally been broken.  But the secret life, dread and pain I have felt every time I see the big hand inching closer to the stroke of bedtime can no longer be kept a secret.  I need group support.

To fight back, I did what any good team player would do – I studied up on my opponent, and I watched film. I knew my son had some necessities that had to be in place before the battle ensued. Otherwise, he’d use them as an excuse for getting up. Here’s the list:

Cup of milk

Cup of water


Goldie (his body-pillow sized stuffed Golden Retriever)



Setting my DVR for Super Nanny last week was the most strategic of moves yet.

Preparedness only got me so far though. No amount of defensive blocks could spare me from his breaking through the line and getting out of bed.

First, he would come out of his room and come downstairs.  That was the first week.

The second week, my husband and I stationed ourselves at the top of the stairs. He still came out.

Be afraid... be very afraid

The third week, I watched my Supernanny films.  What was it we were doing wrong? We were engaging him. The rule is you CANNOT talk. No matter what he said we implemented Jo Frost’s strict policy.

  1. The first time the child leaves their room, lead them to bed saying, “Honey, go back to bed.”
  2. The second time the child leaves their room, lead them back to bed saying, “Go back to bed.” Firm this time.
  3. The third time or more you say nothing. Lead them back in silence.

As the saying goes, silence is golden.

Now don’t get me wrong.  He still gets out of bed.  But he is more quickly defeated because of the silent treatment.  He eventually loses hope that getting out of bed will elicit any response or action and goes to sleep.  It just now takes 20 times instead of 48.

Today, for example, it was down to an hour-ish.  It won’t be long now if my defense holds.

That is considered a “W” in my book. Oh crap, he JUST WOKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

About bizemom

I am a busy working mom (get it... "Biz e-Mom"?) of three kids under the age of four. I have a white-collar day job, I have a night job as a mom, and an "in between" job as a freelance writer and blogger. What can I say, I am a glutton for punishment and I don't go to bed until 1 a.m. No matter how much I complain, I like being busy. That must be the Sagitarius in me--we get bored easily. Now on to the next adventure (I mean... venture!)
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9 Responses to The Battle of Bedtime

  1. Adrienne May says:

    my son is 3 and still “wakes” in the middle of the night. He had rough transitions sleeping since he was young and I made the mistake of caving earlier on and letting him come to my bed sometimes. Since I have been completely consistent he knows that he cannot get his way no matter what and pretty much always settles into bed.

    It helps my son to warn him ahead of bedtime (just 5 mins and 1 min warnings). Sometimes I think of a really special activity to do and we do it right before bed, but I tell him this all night, we will do X before we go to bed. So when we do X we say, after this it is bed time. Now when we finish X he says… “Bedtime”. These things helped him with the concept of time and expectations.

  2. Chantelle says:

    I know this doesn’t help you today, but your kid won’t go to kindergarten with this bedtime routine. At least you know it won’t last you forever. It’s frustrating, though, isn’t it? The only alone time you get with hubby and it’s cut every 10 minutes by little ones intruding on your private time!
    Good luck

  3. Michael G. says:

    Terrific post. Have a similar problem but mine takes place after my daughter wakes up to go to the toilet. It takes her forever to get back to sleeep and she makes sure that I am with her every step of the way.

    Beautifully written post. It put a big smile on my face.

  4. I remember it well and you’ve just taken me back twenty years or so. It’s very difficult to ignore/not respond to a child who’s refusing to settle down but it is the only way. You know you aren’t really ignoring them because you’d be right there if there was a real problem and if you’re anything like me it will tug at your heartstrings to hear them getting worked up. But persevere and they will get the message – tough love teaches them values. Good luck!
    Wait till they’re in their twenties like mine, they will definitly disturb your sleep and it’s even harder making them go to bed and settle down. Ah, the joys of parenthood….

  5. Abbe says:

    Love the photo with his little face in the doorway! I love watching Super Nanny and am sure I will be an expert when the time comes. Yeah, right.

  6. lol and nice touch with the pics. Often it’s what’s *not* said that brings or drives home a message. If more parents practiced than instead of caving, ours would be a society of better-behaved children. Or at the least sleeping ones. 🙂

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