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How to Get a Toddler to Sleep (In 58 Easy Steps)

Sleepy Toddler Toes

Did you ever wonder how to get a toddler to sleep? Tonight, I finally cracked the code, and it only takes 58 steps!

The secret unlocked…

1.) Give fresh diaper/comfy pajamas

2.) Warm milk 15 seconds in the microwave

3.) Turn off Clifford; introduce the milk with false enthusiasm

4.) Rush to “big girl bed,” enthusiasm gradually fading into Bob Ross voice

5.) Lay beside her in big girl bed

6.) Honor request for “phone music,” keeping screen glare off

7.) Honor request for her to “hold phone music;” turn volume down two notches

8.) Quickly replay Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World medley as she requests “more music”

9.) Replay Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World medley at another request for “more music”

10.) Avoid howling when tiny limbs flail & make contact with your Dance-Dance Revolution floor of a body

11.) Replay “more music”

12.) Show rap version of “Llama, Llama, Red Pajama.” Stop 24 seconds in to shrieks of terror

13.) Awkward silence

14.) “No, Mommy went to sleep.”

15.) “No, doggie went to sleep.”

16.) “He’s asleep, too.”

17.) Swiftly switch milk cup with pacifier that doesn’t squeak

18.) “Mm-hm. Nite-nite.”

19.) “More music.”

20.) Cheer internally when song ends and no requests follow. Turn phone volume all the way down

21.) Toddler heel to cheekbone. Hold in tears

22.) Toddler belts hook to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” Feign unconsciousness

23.) Hold breath as she climbs atop your chest, nuzzling to stillness

24.) Wince as she launches off your torso, kicking off like an Olympic swimmer

25.) “Daddy, can I have a clean diaper?” “Did you poo-poo?” “Yeah.” “Huh?” “YESTH.”

26.) Change diaper. Praise her profusely for rare admission of poop.

27.) Catch surprise turd just before it hits clean diaper. Flashback to her dinnertime obsession with green beans

28.) Rip apart strap of flimsy new diaper

29.) Put on third diaper, daring it to move

30.) Hug goodnight. Take deep breath for next round

31.) “PLEASE, I wanna hold gorilla.” “Huh?”

32.) Notice ‘gorilla’ flashcard behind you. Don’t let her see the fear in your eyes

33.) Turn lights off. “More music…”

34.) Rock in an intentionally-syncopated pattern to throw off escape plans, wondering whether standardized tests would be so bad if young kids could take them at 9:30 at night

35.) “Dad, I wanna turn off the fan.”

36.) “Dad, more music.”

37.) “Dad, I wanna get up.”

38.) “More mu-siiic…”

39.) Regret that the late Israel Kamakawiwo’ole couldn’t somehow profit from our many frequent playings of his song

40.) Remind yourself that, yeah, standardized tests would still be a terrible, abusive scam at 9:30 at night

41.) Lay back on bed. Hold breath. Balance toddler on chest

42.) Second swimmer-kick off ribs

43.) Count slowly to 100. Do that six times more

44.) Realize it’s quiet. …Too quiet

45.) “Daddy, can I have a clean diaper?” “Did you poo-poo?” “No.” “Did you poo-poo?” “Um, yeah.”

46.) Turn on lamp. Inspect diaper. Clean. “Not ye-et. Not YE-et… I wanna go in the HOUSE.”

47.) Turn off lamp. Lay back in bed

48.) Feel the flailing of 30 drunken masters against torso

49.) Relax face muscles as slobbery little fingers knead them like pizza dough

50.) Brace neck as she perches atop your head & windshield-wipers your scruffy face with the lower part of her leg

51.) Cradle toddler’s head like a football. Count silently to 100. Do this three more times

52.) Realize she’s given in. Try not to hyperventilate. Play contortionist to slink out of bed, careful not to Steven Seagal her tiny neck

53.) Find belongings like a cat burglar

54.) Turn on monitor. Cover green light

55.) Back out carefully, engulfed in ennui as you realize that some sad day, she won’t need this anymore

56.) Sit in the dark with your thoughts

57.) Let accomplishment set in

58.) Rush to sleep, knowing she’ll call out for ‘Dad’ in exactly 3 hours

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About the Author Mark Ezra Stokes

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