The Twenty Stages of Getting a Toddler to Sleep

When you are 20 months old and a tiny tyrant, there comes a point in every day, sometime after the closing bars of the CBeebies Goodnight song, when the time has quite literally come to say goodnight, to say sleep tight until the morning light.

That time rarely comes until at least an hour and a half after those closing bars.

So now, for your amusement and delight, Piglet is here to explain what happens in those ninety-plus minutes.

The time has come to say goodnight…..which means running around, throwing things and jumping on Mummy’s head.

1.) Mummy and Granny are singing again.  I like their singing, but I don’t know why they are singing that the time has come to say goodnight, because bedtime another two hours yet.  Oh no, TV has gone all blank.  Has Mummy switched it off again?  Back on please.  There might be Ball on.  I like Ball.  Lots of men run around green place and kick Ball into big net, and sometimes Ball on in the evenings, so I can shout “Ball!” to show everyone I know what it is, and point at Ball.  Or maybe Top of the Pops 2?  This is also favourite.  Mummy makes obligatory comment about how have they managed to find any episodes in the archives not presented by someone from Operation Yewtree, and I dance to some bad two-tone from 1982.

2.) NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.  They are singing again.  That song about nappies and poo.  Mummy is picking up the changing mat.  Time to run away.  OH NO!  She’s caught me and is taking my clothes off.  Time for a lie-down protest before she can get nappy off.  Argh she’s carrying me to the changing mat.  No, I will not lie still.  Quickly roll over and am off again.  Spend ten minutes outwitting Mummy (HA!) but am eventually wrestled back onto mat.

3.) Now they are coming at me with pyjamas.  I’M CALLING CHILDLINE!

3.) Oh, Mummy says go and get book.  I fetch book.  It’s about a polar bear with magic pants, which is strange as I’m a big boy so I know animals don’t wear pants.  I have been to the zoo, so I know about this.  Also today we looked at cat in neighbour’s garden for AGES and I played with dog in the park.  None of these animals were wearing pants, but maybe this polar bear is different, I don’t know.

3.) Book finished.  I get more books.  This one about Gordon the big grumpy engine is BRILLIANT.  Mummy read it four times.  I ask read more times please, and Mummy says no.  Something about teeth?

4.) Let’s get Percy the green engine book.  No wait-apparently I need to CLEAN MY TEETH?

5.) RESULT.  Mummy has let me stand on the toilet seat.  I am quite literally the King of My Castle, and I am going to celebrate by banging these cars on the sink repeatedly and trying to grab everything on the window sill.

6. ) Apparently that’s not allowed?  Mummy is trying to clean Piglet toothy-pegs.  Time to clamp mouth shut and practise nose-breathing skills.

7.) Thank you very much, I will have that toothbrush.  MINE ALL MINE, and to prove it, throw toothbrush on floor and into potty, then grab it back again and refuse to let go.  Love toothbrush.  I think I might take this toothbrush to bed with me actually.

8.) Apparently that’s not allowed?  Mummy has wrestled toothbrush away and put it back in the bathroom, which is like, UNFAIR.  She says take toy instead.  Giant fire engine please!

9.) NOT ALLOWED?  She said pick toy so I picked toy.  This mummy thing is, like, SO UNREASONABLE.  Take police car and ambulance instead.

10.) Ah, time for milky-pops!  Deliriously happy.

11.) Oh hang on, it’s still light out there?  This is surely a trick!  They are making me go to bed in the daytime?  It’s not bedtime, it’s not bedtime!  Time to run around the bed.  Mummy is lying down, pretending to sleep. Who does she think she is kidding?  Maybe I will stand on her head.  Oh, hang on what’s this?

12.) Looks like Mummy has hidden bag of clothes next to bed.  This must be a new game.  I LOVE bags of clothes!  Take all the clothes out, one by one, and hand to Mummy.  She must be so pleased as I am helpful boy!

13.) Mummy is grabbing me and trying to lie me down.  Unhand me, Parent!  Where is that Esther Rantzen when you need her?

14.) Aha!  Mummy says something about I give up, let’s go downstairs.  Now I get to watch Countryfile and play with Ball!

15.) Cows on television, and tractors!  Shout at TV for a bit, then decide more fun to throw ball around, and Mummy plays.  Love Mummy!  Oh, hang on, looks like Mummy and Granny don’t want to play Ball.  Granny not happy when I threw car at her head, and now we have to go back to bed.

16.) Maybe will run around bed again…..Oh hang on, milky-pops!

17.) Milky-pops is loads more fun when you pretend to be drinking milk, then come off the boob and poke it instead.

18.) Mummy has covered up the milky-pops!  Such a spoilsport.

19.) Launch self at Mummy’s head.

20.) Milky-pops again…….starting to feel a bit sleepy now…….night, night.  Is it 9pm yet?  No?  10?  Hang on, WHERE’S THOMAS THE TRAIN?  Mummy lying down.  Oh, Mummy asleep.

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70 Comments Add yours

  1. MumRambles says:

    Love it! Pretty similar process in our household.

    1. Min says:

      Thanks-good to know I’m not alone!

  2. Briony says:

    Pa ha ha, yes all very familiar! I think my son has come to recognise the final step of – I have clearly sapped the last ounce of Mummy’s patience for today so I shall now go to bed as I feel I have actually won by breaking her!! #TheBabyFormula

    1. Min says:

      Yep-I’m sure that’s his aim. Sometimes I think he actually waits for me to go to sleep first and then he finally succumbs.

  3. Davina says:

    Sounds just like my 18 month-old. Why do they have to stand on the toilet seat and grab ALL THE THINGS during teeth brushing? So many smashed candles. #passthesauce

    1. Min says:

      Yes, yes, yes! Is spend five minutes half trying to get him to brush his teeth, and half swiftly removing anything grabbable that lies in his path!

  4. Hahahaha so funny and so accurate! Hang in there bed times get better sometime right before they are teens! #TheBabyFormula

    1. Min says:

      Thanks-I will cling to that remote hope!

  5. Love the repetition of ‘not allowed’ and then you falling asleep at the end. Also the reference to Yewtree … so true (I remember watching A-Ha on TOTP through the bannisters and then doing a little jump of repulsion when Jimmy Saville came on afterwards to do a link. I had good instincts, even aged 9). Not looking forward to the 18 month old bedtime with NC … hope the co-hosting goes well today; GOOD LUCK! (and I don’t know what html is either). #StayClassy

    1. Min says:

      Thanks! It’s been OK although I’ve had to check tweets every spare moment at work as I didn’t get home until 8pm tonight. I’m sure I always knew that there was something weird about Jimmy Savile too, although I now realise that it was probably for the best that the dream of being on Jim’ll Fix It never came true! Oh, and congrats on your nomination for the MADS-just seen the list! 🙂

  6. haha this is totally brilliant! I can so relate to this one, even the car being thrown at the head, expect my son threw it at his uncles head resulting in a mild black eye oops! Kids can be apian but gosh they are awesome too. #stayclassy

    1. Min says:

      Oh dear! When my brothers were wee ones, one of them lobbed the other one round the head with a toy car, so I’m sure it’s fairly standard behaviour. I do find myself ducking on a daily basis though!

  7. Rach says:

    This sums up my life post 7pm #stayclassy

    1. Min says:

      Yep, mine too!

  8. I love his PJs!
    Child number one has never been difficult at bed time, child number two is testing. The pair of them together though… But I fully admit I’m a tyrant. I shut the door and then do Darth Vader impressions over the monitor.

    1. Min says:

      Haha, love it! I just can’t do it-I’m a total pushover. Piglet literally leads me around the house with his mouth clamped to my boob.

  9. My two year old is pretty great at going to bed and always been (mostly) and she sleeps through the night. Sometimes until 9am. But I’m not bragging, honestly. You see what you describe here sounds just like my four year old. He takes forever to go to sleep, wakes up in the night and wakes for the day before 6am. Maybe next time you’ll get a great sleeper 😉


    1. Min says:

      Haha, not sure there will be a next time. I can but dream! Except I can’t because I’m never asleep…!

  10. Emma says:

    hahaha this made me chuckle a lot! I can very much relate to you falling asleep at the end. I remember that happening a lot! In fact what do I mean this still happens with my threenager, I fell asleep in her bunk bed this week and Mr C had to creep in and wake me up! #stayclassy

    1. Min says:

      Oh no! That’s pretty standard though, especially if I’ve been at work all day and getting Piglet to sleep has been particularly hard work. I do sleep in the same bed as him though, so at least I’m in my own bed and don’t have to move!

  11. Oh this is too funny and I remember it so well – your idea of bedtime versus theirs – actually that still goes on when they are teenagers to be honest! The repetition of words brought back memories – ball, ball, ball and incase you didn’t hear me and I need more praise that I know my stuff – ball! toddler mentality – love it! A great read #stayclassy

    1. Min says:

      Yes, I’m not anticipating that it will get any easier. I guess this is what I signed up for-no more sleep ever! Although I’ve got a feeling that Piglet will be a bit of a night owl and then sleep in until 12 every day. Thanks for commenting!

  12. Oh yes I’ve had many a bedtime like this…the manic stage is the worst for me…the bit when they are being helpful or running round the room!! We’re getting lots of questions about the daytime happening at bedtime. I launch into lengthy explanations of sun and earth positions, seasons and clocks. That often works as a sleep-inducer! Thanks for cohosting #stayclassy

    1. Min says:

      That’s great that they’ve noticed the days are getting longer-from an educational perspective at least. Not so much when you want them to go to sleep obviously. I’ve noticed they’ve started saying things on CBeebies like “even though it may still be light outside, it’s time for YOU to go to bed.” Where would we be without CBeebies?

  13. Ellen says:

    Ahaha this tickled me. Your Operation Yewtree comment made me laugh aloud. Ah man, the summer months are not good for bedtimes. We’ve started to get much earlier mornings and I am blaming the sun. 10pm is surely an acceptable bedtime? My baby thinks 10pm is early, I’m well chuffed if he’s down for the night at that time…it’s usually nearer 11 or 12! Thanks for co-hosting #StayClassy

    1. Min says:

      Mine was very much the same. When he was a baby it wasn’t unusual to see midnight or later, so he has got a bit better. Small steps and all that! Glad you liked the post, and thank you for commenting.

  14. I particularly enjoyed Piglets bathroom adventures. Thanks for hosting. #StayClassy

    1. Min says:

      Thanks for commenting and linking up!

  15. Ha! Bedtime isn’t nearly that crazy in my house, but my daughter is only 10 months old – I can only imagine what it will be like once she can run around and ask for the TV. Just thinking about it makes me tired. #StayClassy

    1. Min says:

      I wouldn’t worry, bedtimes were always fraught with Piglet, so I’d say he’s been interesting in that department basically since birth. Sounds like your daughter might be calmer!

  16. This is hilarious! My baby is only a month old so this is quite an eye opener…something to look forward to! #StayClassy

    1. Min says:

      Oh yes, it’s definitely an experience! A different kind of experience to getting a baby to sleep, but still somewhat fraught.

  17. AH the old bedtime avoidance dance – our eldest was pretty good at going to bed, Pudding is already giving off non-bedtime vibes! #stayclassy

    1. Min says:

      Haha! Sounds like Piglet and Pudding are similar. Thanks for commenting.

      1. Back again! Still a great post 🙂 #FabFriday

        1. Min says:

          Thanks for commenting again!

  18. Hahaha…this is brilliantly hilarious! I feel exhausted just trying to keep up. Take toothbrush to bed? Classic. Actually the teeth brushing can be quite laborious as well. I am so happy that these days are behind me now and I can just bark at the children to go to bed but now they seem to like to hide in their rooms and “go to bed”…hmmmm… Thanks for sharing with #PasstheSauce

    1. Min says:

      Oh yes, it takes a lot to get him to relinquish the toothbrush! And I feel terrible because he won’t let me brush his teeth properly so I’m convinced they’ll all fall out soon. Is there an in-between between this bit and the teen years?

  19. Oh Min, I’m sure it isn’t fun going through it every night but it sure was funny reading it. My kids were never very testing at bed time but now my toddler has decided that there is only just one more thing that he needs before i can turn the lights off. Normally more water which then leads to wetting the bed and mummy changing bed and big boy sometimes 3 times in the night! ARGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

    1. Min says:

      Oh no what a nightmare! That IS a pain! Piglet did a poo as I was trying to get him to sleep last night (I know, TMI sorry!) but he was wearing a nappy at the time, and for that I am grateful, despite having to get him back out of bed to be changed.

  20. Jane Taylor says:

    There is light at the end of the tunnel, says a mummy whose kids are now 9 and 13!! Hang in there! #stayclassy

    1. Min says:

      Thank you-that’s always good to hear!

  21. Pen says:

    We have this little theatre every night, and in fact last night, because Cygnet is teething he woke at 2:30am and then at 4:30am too. I can’t handle this! It was at 8:15 this morning, when he hadn’t woken that I realised that I had given him an overdose of Calpol during the night (5ml at 2:30 and then 5ml at 4:30). He slept in until 9. It was bliss. I managed to drink a cup of coffee and do my makeup without having to wrestle the concealer from Cygnet before he paints the carpet. I am thinking of doing the same again tonight…accidentally of course.

    Pen xx #Stayclassy

    1. Min says:

      How did I not know of this before?! I have spent the past 21 months telling my mother not to give Calpol as a fever is his body’s way of fighting the infection, medicines should only be given when absolutely essential, and other such hippy bulls**t, and I never even thought about how it might increase sleep levels. As you say, of course that would only be a coincidental SIDE EFFECT of Calpol…

  22. ahahahaha excellent. If mine could move on her own yet this would be it. My fave was Call Childline…! I say that to my daughter when shes objecting ahahahah


    1. Min says:

      Haha, he hasn’t actually said it yet, but I know it’s only a matter of time! Thanks for commenting.

  23. Haha- yes! You nailed it. This is our house every night. Sigh. Will it ever end?


    1. Min says:

      Hopefully at some point! Thanks for hosting and commenting.

  24. whineorwine says:

    My kids would be the same!! Granny stop singing!!! So much launching toooooo!!! Arrrr sigh!! xxx #chucklemums

    1. Min says:

      Haha, thanks for hosting and commenting!

  25. sarah says:

    I’m totally sympathising with this!!!! Mine is a sod to get to bed still at 5…I don’t think it will ever ennnnnd!! Thanks for entertaining us on #chucklemums

    1. Min says:

      Oh no-I was hoping you’d say they start sleeping through and acting all sensible at the age of around 21 months. Piglet turns 21 months in 2 days. Looks like I have plenty more of these fun and games to come!

  26. Haha – this is unfortunately very familiar! I haven’t found the process gets any easier as they get older! I think it is pretty much a non stop cycle – just with different things sent to try us. Parenthood. Still I must love all the fun and games as I have four. Either that or I am completely mad! #FabFridayPost

    1. Min says:

      I am as yet very inexperienced when it comes to parenthood, but I can only imagine that the challenges remain, they just morph into different ones. Thanks for commenting.

  27. Rarely managed to get any of mine asleep before 9pm EVER! And now they are older they want to stay up even later. You’ve summed up toddlerhood brilliantly. Sarah

    1. Min says:

      Haha, I just told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This is literally a blow by blow account of one evening. I have only just got the little urchin to sleep now and it’s 9.30pm.

  28. Hehe, love this! Marianna has gone from happily going from bath to bed without a murmur, to screaming, escape attempts, and – if she is wrestled into her cot – making herself sick so the whole process can begin again… #fabfridaypost

    1. Min says:

      Oh no, it all sounds so traumatic! Piglet’s thing is usually trying to play by hitting me repeatedly with a toy car.

  29. Ha I love this, sounds like our house every night. Glad to see we aren’t alone. It’s definitely taking longer now the lighter nights are coming.x #fabfridaypost

    1. Min says:

      I think it is too. I’m going to start wishing winter back again before too long I think!

  30. Aww funny but so cute, I love your writing style. I was trying to think back to when mine were younger but I’ve obviously buried the hell of bedtime routines way back in dark place because I can’t remember it at all – oh, oh, apart from the very welcome sound of Chris and Poi singing the bedtime song. Just remember, eventually they get old enough to just shout “Right, disappear!” and they take themselves off to do all the faffing (I like to call this ‘Mummy’s refreshment prep time’) before tucking them in and kissing them goodnight. x ~FabFridayPost

    1. Min says:

      Haha, I look forward to that! Mummy’s refreshment prep time sounds AMAZING. At the moment I am sneaking a glass of wine off to bed with me when I take Piglet up to get him to sleep. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  31. Pretty like our house, and mine are 5 and 8!
    OH NOOooooooooO!
    Great post! #FabFridayPost

    1. Min says:

      Oh dear, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Things do get easier, right?

  32. Ha ha I’m glad it’s not just me 😉 I never see my boy run so fast as when the new nappy comes our he he

    1. Min says:

      Yes-mine takes about twenty minutes of coaxing/chasing! Thanks for commenting.

  33. I know what Piglet means – animals don’t wear pants – of-course not… but I’ve also read a book to Evelyn called “ELEPANTS” ! Weird! lol! Thank you so much for co-hosting with me Min. 🙂 xx #FabFridayPost

    1. Min says:

      There’s a strange obsession among children’s authors with animals wearing pants I think! Thank you for having me at #FabFridayPost

  34. Silly Mummy says:

    Haha – hilarious! Mine like to climb things in bathroom, take control of toothbrush and clamp mouth shut too! #fabfridaypost

    1. Min says:

      Yep, all sounds familiar. And Piglet is determined that he must take at least one toy car everywhere with him too, for some reason.

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