Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How I got my sleep back

If there’s something I’ve learned in this tumultuous toddler time, it’s that behaviour is learned. That consistency is key. And that bribing (I mean, rewarding good behaviour, of course) is essential.
The twinadoes are adorable, utterly adorable, but often ‘spirited’. We have just come out of a very dark period, the darkest, in fact; months and months and months of endless wake ups and nocturnal visitations throughout the night.

The hubster and I were utterly exhausted. I can’t even describe it. I am sure you must know what I mean. Sleep deprivation is so debilitating.

Just one of the many unwelcome effects of this was that we just didn’t have the energy to change the situation. We knew we should just put our feet down, return the twinadoes to their beds as many times as it took, and do it every.single.time, but the reality was that we were so bloody tired we literally couldn’t get up. We didn’t have the energy. Or the will. In fact, sometimes I would wake up with a twin either side of me and not even know how long they’d been there. Such was the extent of my exhaustion. When I did manage to catch those ten minutes either side of a night-time visitor, I was practically comatose.

I don’t know exactly what it was that changed (I expect it was something to do with realising that I had my witch’s broom on full rotation for about a fortnight and was not being the best version of myself), but one day something snapped and I thought, “Enough is enough. I need to take back my sleep. I need to take back my life. I need to enjoy it again.”
So we did.

And it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.

Now, I’m not saying this is going to work for everyone, but this is what worked for us. And to put it in perspective from the outset, my children are motivated by praise. They love it when they do something ‘right’, or ‘good’. This, my friends, is their currency.
So, to the toy shop we went. I let them pick out two ‘reward presents’ and a packet of stickers each. I made a 14-day reward chart that I stuck to their bedroom door.  I explained  - about a gazillion times – that for each night they stayed in their own beds, they would get a sticker on their chart. And at the end of a week’s worth of stickers, they would get one of their reward presents. I also encouraged them to tell everyone who crossed their path about the plan. Grandparents, kindy teachers, shop assistants, random strangers; no-one was immune. I figured if they said it out loud enough, they might actually start to believe it. Of course I put their presents on display, but out of reach. A little bit mean maybe, but definitely motivating.

I can’t believe how quickly it worked.
One little man got it straight first night in. Honestly. He went to sleep, woke up once, I called out something about a sticker, or a present, or maybe both, and he went straight back to sleep.

The other one did get up a couple of times, but we somehow found it in us to march him straight back each time, reinforcing the sleep –sticker–reward relationship. The next night he woke up, but didn’t get up. The third night, he didn’t wake at all.
That was over two weeks ago, and things are still going well.  I can’t believe the difference it’s made. Who knew how much a good night’s sleep can make the world a much nicer place!


  1. That is amazing - I remember your post about the sleep deprivation and the steps you were taking to get the boys sleeping in their own beds. I need to take a leaf out of your book! Well done you! Elaina xo

  2. Fantastic news Jen! So glad the sleep situation has improved for the better and you're all getting decent slumber. Yay for the reward chart being such a great motivator for the boys x


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