Bedtime at our house starts at 7PM with Henry.

Next with Benjamin at around 7:30PM.

And then William and Alexander head upstairs at around 8PM.

Geez… it sounds so easy when I type it out. It’s just never really that easy.

Actually, with Henry it is. He happily goes to bed and then doesn’t even stir until about 6:30AM. Sometimes 7AM.

Benjamin isn’t much more difficult. With Benjamin, he just sits in his crib saying, “Mommy! Can I have milk?” about 20-30 times and then closes his sweet blue eyes.

William and Alexander. They are another story. Oh, yes. They are a big time other story.

Even though we put them to bed at 8PM, they still end up staying up until 10PM or 11PM. It’s very difficult. They just don’t fall asleep. They end up talking to each other (they share a bedroom). They play. I hear them walking around. Some nights it’s funny. Matt and I will go to the bottom of the steps and listen to their little brother conversations.

“William? What’s your favorite level on Indiana Jones?” (They love to play XBOX together).


“Alex, you really shouldn’t wear your Indy hat to bed.”

And the conversations will go on and on and on and on. They finally fall asleep somewhere between 10-11PM. It’s cute, when we go to tuck them in, that sometimes they are in the same bed together. It’s adorable.


Come 2AM… we have 2 little boys in bed with us. It’s just beginning to get to the point where Matt and I aren’t sleeping. William and Alexander toss and turn all night. I usually wake up 4 to 5 times with a leg or an arm in my back. It’s gotten worse the last few weeks. Matt and I were just talking this morning about how we don’t remember the last night where we had a “sound” (as sound as it can get with 4 boys, 4 and under) night’s sleep.

I know the boys come running into our bedroom because they wake up and get scared. My goodness, I remember doing that myself as a little girl. My parents finally just moved me into Jane’s bedroom so we both could be together. That worked well for us. With William and Alexander, that doesn’t work so well.

They only other thing we’ve tried to start doing is setting up 2 sleeping bags next to our bed, encouraging them to lay down and try to fall asleep next to us. They aren’t sold on this idea.

I’m just concerned now because I know Benjamin is going to be in a big boy bed soon, and I don’t want to worry about 3 little boys jumping into bed with Matt and me. I’d rather try some ideas now on how to get them to stay in their beds throughout the night.

For me, sleep is necessary. I don’t require 8-10 hours a night, but I have been having tired headaches on and off for the past 2 weeks and it’s just getting to be too much. I need some sleep to stay healthy.

Any bedtime suggestions would be much appreciated.

(Much, much!)

Disclosure: This blog post is sponsored by Healthy Choice. Please visit for more information on Healthy Choice and to print a free $1 off coupon.

About Audrey

Audrey McClelland has been a digital influencer since 2005. She’s a mom of 5 and shares tips on her three favorite things: parenting, fashion and beauty. She’s also a Contemporary Romance Author.

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  1. 6.4.09
    Christy said:

    oh, I’ll be interested to see any ideas you have and receive—I’m running on low sleep myself–2 yo daughter is exhibiting some interesting sleep patterns and totally refusing to nap. So, life is very interesting at my house at the moment 😉

  2. 6.4.09
    Tina said:

    It’s amazing to me how alike our children are – their names even match their personalities 🙂

    My Henry is exactly like yours. I plop him down and rarely hear anything from him until the next morning.

    Jake is a lot like Henry – he even asks to go to bed. He does get up from time to time, to ask how much longer it is until morning (lol), but he’ll go right back to bed.

    William, well, he’s another story. He’s had sleep issues since birth, so I feel your pain. I’d suggest using “tickets” – give them 1 or 2 tickets a night and take one away every time they get up. Once the tickets are gone, that’s it. If they continue to get up, they start to lose fun stuff (take toys away, XBOX away, etc.).
    I would also tell them that they are not allowed in your bed – they are more than welcome to sleep in the sleeping bags on the floor, but that’s it. The hope is that they’ll get tired of sleeping on the uncomfortable floor and WANT to get in their beds.
    (FTR, I’m not against co-sleeping at all. But, you don’t want them in your bed, so…..)

    Good luck! I count my blessings EVERY day that my Henry is the way he is. In fact, he’s been asleep for 2 1/2 hours and I have to go wake him up 🙂

  3. 6.4.09

    My husband is a sleep medicine physician. He recommends trying the tips on

  4. 6.4.09

    Now I don’t have kids but I DO remember this from when I was little. My little brother and I got into this EXACT same habit and it literally almost drove my dad to insanity because he couldn’t handle all the flailing limbs.

    One night, before bed, my parents sat us down (in our own rooms) and told us that we couldn’t sleep in their bed anymore. I *think* they might have lied and said some professional or a police officer or SOMEBODY said that it was bad for kids to sleep in mommy and daddy’s bed, so that we weren’t allowed to sleep in there anymore.

    We were still allowed to come to them if we were scared, and when we did they would listen to our fears, tell us not to be scared and send us back to our rooms.

    If we wouldn’t go back, they would walk us back, turn on the lights or show us that there was NOTHING to be afraid of, tuck us in and rub our backs if anything was wrong.

    They would always leave and say “There’s nothing to be afraid of, we are right across the hall.” It was tough for a few days but after that I never remember being scared or needing them again.
    Sometimes it’s just all about breaking those BAD habits!!

    Good luck!

  5. 6.4.09
    Joy said:

    My four-year-old started coming into our bed when he was about 2, and did so most of the time until I wrote this post ( in January. Bottom line, stick to your guns!! Put them back in bed until they stay. You might have an extra rough night or two (or three). But, in the end you’ll all be happier. He has only asked to come into our bed once. He has woken up other times, but hasn’t asked because he knows the answer.

    Our two oldest started sharing a room almost a year ago. The little conversations are fun to listen to. But, we don’t let it go on for long. Other wise they get louder and louder! We go in seasons of how easy they go to bed we try to hold to a routine. And, then they know it is time to go to sleep.

    Hope you start getting some sleep!

  6. 6.4.09
    MommyGeek said:

    I’m not necessarily the best person to give advice on sleep time, because we have had our share/load of problems… but our daughter doesn’t come into our bed at night. It took a while to get her to sleep in her bed all night without waking up — months of one of us sleeping on the couch and going to her when she needed us (couch allowed us to get there faster) and show her that if she needed us, we would come to her, and she didn’t have to get out of bed or cry.

    Since your boys are older… I would think the best thing to do would be to just quietly walk them back to bed and tuck them in again. It will probably really SUCK for a few weeks, maybe a month… but they’ll learn to stay in their own beds and it’ll suck less than having three or four boys in your bed in the next couple of years!

    Have you read Elizabeth Pantley’s No Cry Sleep Solution? That’s a good one. And cheesy as it sounds, The Nanny has a lot of great bedtime advice.

  7. 6.4.09

    My husband and I have two young girls that are two and one year(s)-old, so we don’t have the experience that you are going through first hand yet. But, based on your post we have discussed again why we practice many of the sleep habits that we have made a part of our usual routine. Sleep can not be forced. A routine leading to sleep is best when it is reinforced repeatedly. The best sleep environment is dark and quiet. X-box or TV are bright and stimulating events that can easily inhibit sleep onset in little minds. We have no videos or TV after dinner in our house (until the kids go to bed . . . but don’t tell them). I’d caution you to limit your kids videos for at least several hours before bed. Also, think about other common sleep problems like caffeine intake. A little child’s body may keep caffeine in it for 8 or more hours. It would be easiest to cut out all caffeine, but I’d recommend at least limiting caffeine intake to the early afternoon hours (no later). Lastly, you need to set limits. In various cultures around the world, it is normal for children to sleep with their parents. But if you do not want your children sleeping with you then, as the parent, you are entitled to set the limits. If your limit is a sleeping bag on the floor beside the bed, then that is your limit. If your limit is not leaving their bedroom, then that is your limit. Whatever your limit is, you need to be firm and consistent. Children are master manipulators that benefit from knowing that you love them and want to make them happy. “Curtain calls,” is what my husband has dubbed my two-and-a-half-year-old’s need to go potty every time we put her in bed. She has learned that one of our biggest fears is leaving her in a dirty diaper overnight and she will exploit it! Whatever the excuse you are getting is, don’t feed into it. Don’t have conversations. Don’t argue. Don’t react at all. The process is called extinction, and the goal is to make the unwanted behavior as distant a memory as the dinosaurs. Supernanny has had several good episodes dealing with this same problem. Sleep is a priority in our house. You are a great Mom to realize how important it is in your children. A four-year-old should be getting close to 11hours of sleep per day, and without this may be suffering with regards to daytime function. If some of these suggestions don’t fix the difficulties you are having talk with your health care provider. Structured guidance and sometimes even medications can be used to help with bedtime. Best Wishes.

  8. 6.5.09
    Larissa said:

    I only have one daughter for now, so I haven’t experienced the sibling conversations. However, she is good about staying in her bed because she knows that she will get in trouble if we find her up and around her room after we put her down. Also, if she wakes up at night and needs us, she stays in her bed and we go to her. Usually, she’s not very awake and it only takes a few moments to get her settled back down. We have just never allowed her to choose to wander around on her own. However, there was a stretch when she was not sleeping well at all, and getting up well before 6:00 a.m. and taking an hour nap, if that. I finally figured out it was because the moment her eyes halfway opened, she got out of bed, even if she could have gone back to sleep. I simply started telling her that I couldn’t come into her room to get her up unless she was in her bed. After a few days, she was staying in her bed, which meant sleeping much better. Habits are strange animals.

    I would say you and your husband should decide what would be most comfortable for you and re-teach your kids the new rules. Don’t budge and they’ll get it. Plus, if they aren’t getting out of bed at night, they’ll probably get better sleep, too.

  9. 6.5.09
    Donnetta said:

    I posted on this topic a few years ago….

    It is a variation of your sleeping bag idea. Maybe it would be helpful?

  10. 6.5.09
    Emily said:

    My daugter is only 19 months, so we don’t have the problem of her coming to bed with us, but she has had some interesting/hard sleep habits that we have had to deal with. My dad is a pediatrician and recommended Richard Ferber’s book, “Solving Your Child’s Sleep Problems”. I was hesitant at first because of what I had “heard” about “Ferberizing” your child. But, once I read the book I realized there were tips and techniques that were gentle and caring and that ultimately good sleep is the most important thing for both parents and children. The book is not just about babies, there is a section about older children who are able to get up out of their own beds and how to teach them to stay in bed at night. Hope you find something that helps you and your kids sleep well and soundly at night!

  11. 6.5.09
    Emily M said:

    My Henry is four and a half, and we have been fighting his sleep issues since he climbed out of his crib at 17 months. His older sister (8) has always had trouble with sleep, both falling asleep and sleeping through the night. Sometimes our house seems like the “before” version of an Ambien ad.

    That said, we’ve been (mostly) able to maintain our sanity for the past 8 years by picking the most annoying behavior and then being ruthlessly consistent until the habit is broken. Right now we don’t have a problem with our son climbing into bed with us in the middle of the night, but we are adamant that he must fall asleep in his own bed by himself (we went through months of one of us staying with him until he fell asleep, sometimes for 2+ hours). By his fifth birthday, the middle of the night visits will have to go. We’ll give him the option we gave our daughter: it’s OK to read or listen to soft music in your room, but you must not wake us up unless it’s an emergency.

    One thing that might seem sort of counter-intuitive is to start the older boys’ bedtime routine a little earlier. I can’t imagine how tricky it must be to get four little guys in bed in any kind of organized fashion, but putting them in their rooms an hour earlier might make it so that they’re falling asleep closer to 9, without sacrificing the brother time they seem to enjoy so much.

    Good luck with it!

  12. 6.5.09
    Dawn said:

    I was a non sleeper, and I have a non sleeper. My mom just laughs and laughs at me.

    When I was around the boys’ age my parents told me that it must be my stuffed animals that were waking me up at night. Each morning, if I’d woken them up, I had to put another animal in a box that went in the top of my closet. The “logic” was that once I started sleeping that *clearly* the disruptive animal had been put away 🙂

  13. 6.7.09
    Lisa said:

    I read this idea somewhere and thought it was great – have two bowls – one in your room and one in their room. Label their bowl (s) with their names and yours with “Mom’s Bed Buttons.” Put 25 buttons in each bowl. For every night they stay in bed, they get one of your buttons. If they get in bed with you, they pay you a button. When their bowls are filled, they get a special reward. (I think this was used with a slightly older child, since yours are really little you could probably use clothespins or something they wouldn’t try to eat. =) Also, you might want to use fewer since 25 nights is a long time to wait for a reward for little ones!)

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