“How to Get Your Toddler to Sleep in Their Own Bed: A Step-by-Step Guide” by Joni Edelman originally appeared on Ravishly.com, a feminist news + culture website.
I know what you’re saying right now: “I told you not to co-sleep. I told you you’d never get them out of your bed. I told you they’d be sleeping with you until they’re 16.”
Well. My toddlers are not sleeping with me anymore — as of this week. And they are only 3 and 5. And my three teenagers? They have been out of my bed for at least 10 years.
I bet you didn’t see that coming.
For those of you that Googled “how to get your toddler out of your bed,” I’m here to help.*
All is not lost.
Well, all sleep is lost, but that’s another story.
1. Prepare the bed.
Make a place for them to sleep that is not your bed. If they have a crib, which they have never used, go ahead and try to use that. It probably won’t work.
When that fails, throw a mattress on the floor. Put some vintage sheets on it, and, if you’re feeling particularly Instagram-worthy, give them one stuffed bunny, hand-knit by a tribe of women in Guatemala. (It’s best to source this first and make sure said women are paid a fair wage.)
Add a dream-catcher made with a vintage doily, for bonus points.
Tell them this will be “their” bed. And by “their” bed, I mean you’re no longer welcome in “my” bed, you starfish-sleeping tyrant.
2. Talk to your toddler.
And by “talk to,” I mean tell them they are going to be sleeping in their own bed or there will be no Christmas.
Kids crave structure. It’s advisable to warn them that you are about to evict them from the only bed they’ve ever known.
This is probably not going to go over very well.
And by “not very well,” I mean it’s going to be very bad.
3. White noise.
Get some. “White noise” (whatever that is) is supposed to help people sleep.
As far as I can tell it doesn’t work, but when it fails, you can just move the white noise machine into your bedroom and turn it up to muffle the pleading.
4. Get one of those OK to Wake alarm clocks.
This is a clock that you set to turn green when it is time for your child to get up for the day. Ostensibly, you explain the clock to your child, telling them that they should remain in their bed until the clock signals that it is time to wake up.
If all goes as planned (it won’t), they remain there (they won’t), affording you seven hours of smotherless rest.
We set ours for 6:30 AM, which felt pretty extravagant compared to the usual pre-6 AM wake up. You set yours for whatever time you deem appropriate.
They’re going to ignore it anyway.
If they are particularly resourceful, they are going to discover the hidden panel on the back, open it up, and reset the “wake” time for 2 AM.
Never underestimate the power of a toddler scorned.
5. Be consistent.
It’s important in situations such as these to stay true to your word. So, when they ignore/override the clock, you’ll have to take away Christmas.
This is going to be hard, because capitalism, but in the end you’re going to have a way lower American Express bill. Stay the course.
6. Be innovative.
When they say, “I don’t care! I don’t want Christmas; I just want to sleep with you,” you’re going to need a Plan B. (No. Not the birth control. It’s too late for that.)
Plan B is going to involve you sleeping on their floor.
You probably should just go ahead and get a king-size mattress for their bedroom. And another bunny.
7. Plan C
When Plan B fails (it will), move the OK to Wake clock to your bedroom and tell them they have to stay in your bed until it’s green.
I know this looks like a failure, but this way it seems like you’re being consistent. Even if, in actuality, you’ve just given up because you’re effing exhausted.
Don’t flinch. They smell fear and feast on defeat.
8. Wait it out.
Eventually they are going to get tired of being two centimeters from your face.
It might take a while, but it will probably definitely happen before they are 16.
*I’m not really helpful at all. Sorry.
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