Kids are God’s little narcoleptics. They all possess the ability to fall asleep without warning, most often while sitting on the toilet. They’ve got their own internal clocks when it comes to dozing off.
Your kid will never want to sleep when he is actually supposed to though, especially if you are tired. One method you can use to combat this tendency is to keep a bottle of whiskey by your side at all times, preferably secured in a custom-made holster fastened to your waist. As soon as your child falls asleep, whip out that booze and guzzle it down. Wait thirty seconds, then pass out. This way, both of you will get some rest.
In order to better your child’s sleep habits, it’s necessary to develop a nightly bedtime ritual. This is a routine that you and your child go through each evening before bed to help calm him down and prepare him to go to sleep. A typical bedtime ritual might go like this:
You: “Hey Timmy, let’s go brush your teeth.”
Your child: “No. I don‘t want to.”
You: “Hey Timmy, let’s go read a book.”
Your child: “No. I don‘t want to.”
You: “Hey Timmy, let’s eat a bunch of chocolate and finger-paint the walls.”
Your child: “No. I don‘t—wait, yes. I actually want to do that one.”
You: “Haha! Too late, you lost! Now you have to drink this entire bottle of NyQuil.”
*Note: I’m aware that your child’s name probably isn’t “Timmy.” You undoubtedly picked something far more creative and meaningful with which to christen the fruit of your loins. Maybe something like “Jimmy.”*
Other methods of calming your children before bed can include the following:
Reading a bedtime story — There are tons of children’s books out there that can be used to get a child to fall asleep once he’s in bed. Most of them have cutesy titles like The Briar Patch Bears Consider Purchasing A Microwave or Jenny Jellybean Applies For An Adjustable Rate Mortgage. When selecting a story, the key is to pick something that will hold your child’s attention, yet still be boring enough that he’ll want to fall asleep while you’re reading.
If the book is too boring, you may fall asleep yourself, which is a very dangerous situation. Kids are ingrained with a frat house/slumber party mentality which dictates that anyone who falls asleep before they do is automatically subject to be doodled upon with a Sharpie.
Singing a lullaby — Way back in the olden days before books and morphine were invented, parents had to soothe their offspring to sleep through the power of song. The key to this method is proper song selection. Something by John Mayer would be appropriate. Something by Megadeth would not.
Also, if your singing voice closely resembles the sound of mating tomcats, it’s likely best to forget about this method.
Letting the TV do all the work — Why have a television if you’re not going to use it? And when I say “use it,” I mean “plant your child in front of it, then leave the room for an extended period of time.”
TVs were made for babysitting, and there are plenty of shows that will hold your child’s interest. That Spongebob guy is great with kids; he has excellent references. Feel free to leave your child with him for several hours, even though it’s only a half-hour show. I’m not sure how the math on that works out, but it does.
The time your child spends sleeping is the best (and perhaps only) time to fix all the stuff he messed up while he was awake. You’ll need this time to pick up stray toys, clean the crayon off the walls, and get your cat out of the dryer.
For this reason, once your child falls asleep, your primary focus should be to keep him asleep. This is much more difficult than it sounds. Unlike every other living thing on the planet, children gain a heightened sense of awareness when they are sleeping. The slightest disturbance will rouse them. They can easily be awakened by a leaf hitting the grass three counties away.
Because of this, it’s important to take precautions.
You can try placing industrial-grade earmuffs (the kind construction workers wear) on your child, but chances are the extra weight and girth will render your child incapable of movement. (This is not necessarily a bad thing for you, but your kid will probably get pretty mad about it.)
Soundproofing your child’s room is also a valid idea, but the Laws of Parenthood dictate that if you were to spend thousands of dollars soundproofing your child’s room, he’d never want to sleep in there.
The most realistic solution to keeping a child asleep is to modify your own habits. When your child is sleeping, you must invoke the power of the ninja, creeping stealthily from one room to another. Your footsteps must be light and noiseless. Float if possible.
It takes practice, but with a little hard work and a lot of ingenuity, you can have the house glistening and spotless by the time your child wakes up.
Just in time for him to make a mess of it again.