The Battle of Bedtime, The Siege of Sleep


A boy jumping on the bed.As an adult, there are few things I look forward to more than the moment my head hits the pillow. And yet, as Jim Gaffigan puts it, to kids, “bedtime is a punishment that violates their basic rights as human beings.” 

With babies, sleep disruption is sort of expected. They’re hungry, their diapers are wet, and they haven’t grown out of their Moro reflex yet.

But eventually, they grow and start sleeping through the night, and you think, Okay. We’ve made it. The light at the end of the tunnel is finally here. But then you squint, look a little closer, and see that it’s actually the light on in your toddler’s room because he’s gotten out of bed (again) despite four books, five cuddles, and at least six water refills.

The pediatrician or a well-meaning friend might say, Well, there’s a reason he’s getting out of bed. Perhaps you need to address the cause. Yes, in fact, here is a list of the many reasons that my three-year-old got out of bed last night:

  1. To ride his Lightning McQueen stuffy down the hall to his brother’s room.
  2. To brush his brother’s hair.
  3. To eat the secret pack of M&Ms, he stashed somewhere.
  4. He can’t find Tigey. (It’s in his bed).
  5. Long sleeves. 
  6. No, short sleeves. 
  7. No, long sleeves.
  8. “I need to change my pants.”
  9. To tell me he doesn’t like olives on his pizza.
  10. To put flower stickers on his door because “You love flowers, Mama.”
  11. To ask for a new Pull-Up.
  12. To ask me if I know the muffin man.
  13. To tell me that his brother (who is asleep) hit him.
  14. Blanket! 
  15. No blanket. 
  16. Blanket, please. 

Some days I want to cry (or shout or both), and some days I have to laugh when the 25-minute sitcom my husband and I are trying to watch turns into an hour-long stop-motion journey from all the pausing, and by the end, I have no idea what happened anyway so we have to rewatch it (tomorrow, of course). 

On my way to bed, I peek in on his big brother, who smiles sweetly in his sleep. It’s the smile of a kid who’s about to inherit all of his little brother’s Easter candy if the said brother doesn’t get in his bed and STAY THERE! 

And now I know why the moment where my head hits the pillow brings me so much joy. I have earned it. 


  1. Love all the reasons that his little smart brain generates! Good luck with watching an episode tonight and then-sweet dreams.

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