Say Goodbye to Sleepless Nights: Using a Reward System to Get Kids to Sleep In Their Beds

Sleep deprivation.

Let’s be real. If you’re a parent, you are definitely no stranger. We all know with a newborn the sleepless nights are like a rite of passage into parenthood. Everyone tells you those sleepless nights are temporary and will soon pass. Well that’s debatable. Up until about 2 months ago, my 3 and 4 year old would end up in my bed almost every single night. They slept great and would wake up ready to conquer the world. I, however, spent most of the night trying to reposition them because one of them would be lying sideways, and one would be right underneath me or kicking me in the ribs. I would wake up (or did I ever really go to sleep) exhausted and already planning how I could work a nap into the day. True story! Have you read more about how I got myself into that situation?

I try to live a healthy lifestyle. I eat healthy and workout, but was missing one of the key components due to my chronic lack of sleep. Knowing that something had to change for my health and sanity, I implemented a simple and completely made up chart system. The best part, it actually worked! The kids are sleeping in their own room (for almost 2 months), and this momma is snoozing solo, except for when the husband isn’t working at the fire department.

I didn’t research any methods or read any books regarding how to get your kids back in their beds. I just decided one day, enough was enough! Cooper, my 4 year old, is completely obsessed with Disney Cars, and Camille, my 3 year old, loves all things Disney princesses. I went to Target and bought inexpensive rewards that included books, cups, games, collectible cars, and princess stuff.  I got home and handmade (nothing fancy as I’m not that creative) each one a chart. I showed them their charts and the rewards that I told them they would have to earn by sleeping in their beds, and we got started the very next day.

It’s called Bribery 101!

Honestly, I had no clue if this was going to work or not. I knew I had their attention with those rewards because they really wanted them. I stood firm. I told them that for every night that they slept in their beds we would make a big glittery check mark on their chart when they woke up. They had to sleep so many consecutive nights before they earned a reward. If they slept 4 nights straight (had to be consecutive or else we started over), they earned their first reward. So on day 4 they got a reward, day 7 and day 10, and then we would start over. I knew if I did this, I had to be willing to get up and put them back in their beds if they came to my room in the middle of the night.

The first couple of nights were rough.

Cooper wanted so bad to sleep in his bed, but he woke up multiple times throughout the night and wanted someone to lay down with him in his room. Either my husband or I would go lay down with him each time (still sleep deprived). Every morning, I always made it a BIG, and I mean a BIG deal, to go and do our glitter check marks! I would praise them and tell them how proud I was and that I couldn’t wait for them to earn their rewards. They were both so excited! I couldn’t believe this was working, or why I hadn’t done this earlier!

coop heartpicIt’s been almost 2 months, and they are both sleeping in their beds. They do wake up occasionally, but they know, and more importantly, they want to go back to sleep in their beds. (Camille is way easier to get to bed and more likely to stay asleep in her bed.) This experience has definitely given my sweet little boy more self-determination and independence. He now wants to go to sleep on his own with just a night light on in his room. I tuck him in bed, say a prayer and kiss him goodnight. He usually runs out of his bedroom shortly after I tuck him in and tells me, “I need to give you a kiss.” A few minutes later, he will run back out and say, “I need to give you a hug.” Still, he will wake up sometimes in the middle of the night, and you will hear the pitter patter of little feet running as fast as he can to my room all to tell me “I need to give you a kiss,” and then he runs back to his room to go back to bed. He just melts my heart, and I would be lying if I didn’t say part of me wants him to snuggle in my bed.

This chart and reward system has been a first time experience for me, but I don’t think it will be the last! Coming soon, Bribery 102! I don’t give them rewards anymore, but we do still do the glitter check marks every day. I’m proud of myself for getting them back in their beds, and I’m proud of them for being so determined. My body is much happier with a full night of sleep, and I’m able to function and be a better mom.

I know there are lots of different ways to get the kiddos back in their own beds. Which method worked for your family?


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