You all are in for a treat today, because I just checked the ol’ digital mailbag and found THE EASIEST ADVICE QUESTION EVER. Really, this week’s column is going to be so short it’s like, why am I even bothering? Samuel L. Jackson already fixed this shit years ago!
[Reminder: you can skip Nick Fury and come straight to us with all your problems. Just drop us a note at [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it! Disclaimer: this does not mean that our answer will be the best. You get what you pay for: free opinions about your life from strangers on the internet.]
This week, we’ve got a struggling parent:
How in the hell can I get my kid to go to bed and stay in bed? He’s 3 years old. Which is our first problem. He has a 9-month-old brother, which seems to be vexing for him.
He moved to his “big boy” twin bed last fall, slept great for a month, and then one night freaked the fuck out and made my husband or me sit vigil by his bed until he fell asleep.
Fast forward and now he will only sleep in the guest room in a king size bed like a Saudi Prince. He will sit at the top of the stairs most nights until my husband comes up to sleep with him.
We have tried:
Lavender (my one person study confirmed my belief that essential oils are snake oil with better perfume)
Super-nannying this bitch
Wine (mainly for us…)
Now, I’m no parent, but I’ve been reliably informed that this question is relatable AF. And honestly, I’m a little jealous of this kid. I don’t even have a king bed! Can I come over and get the princely treatment, with lavender and wine included? But look, the solution to your problem already exists: the Samuel L. Jackson audiobook recording of Go The F—k To Sleep, which I can only assume will solve this issue lickety-split. How could it not?
[*Editor’s note: No it won’t. It’s filled with profanity and not actually meant for kids.*]
Huh. Well then. I guess this won’t be a short column after all. Lemme see what the more parentally-inclined Overlords have to suggest!
- Baby doses of melatonin
- Try setting an earlier bedtime, and don’t skip naps. Tired kids are irritable kids, and overtired kids will be harder to deal with and will actually sleep worse. Instead, overwhelm them with opportunities to sleep and see if they adjust to that rhythm.
- Try and figure out what is causing him to stay up — because he’s not just doing it to piss you off. There could be a valid reason, or multiple reasons, and once you identify them you can start to address them. One Overlord discovered that their child had enlarged adenoids which were effectively causing sleep apnea and waking them up throughout the night. Eventually, the child’s tonsils were removed, and that made a world of difference. In your case, maybe he just wants to spend more time with you.
- Bedtime routines are important, because they establish order in the child’s life and provide comfort. And while it’s easy to add things to the routine, it’s much more difficult to remove or change them. Once they expect something, it’s game over. Right now your son expects to fall sleep in the guest bed, so maybe you let him. He expects your husband to fall asleep with him, so maybe that continues as well. But now you can add to the routine. See if you can get your son to wait in the guest bed for your husband, rather than at the top of the stairs. The routine becomes: Daddy will come when you’ve gotten yourself to bed. Have your husband set an alarm for himself, so he gets up and leaves after your son is asleep — and maybe he also carries your son back to the big boy bed you’ve set up for him, so he gets used to waking up in his own room. Instead of trying to alter the routine in one fell swoop, try making incremental adjustments to it slowly.
- Turns out, several Overlords incorporate singing as part of their bedtime routines. Or at least playlists of specially chosen soothing tunes. Forget lullabies — if your kid can stay awake through The Beatles’ Blackbird, he’s inhuman.
- The plus side to setting an elaborate bedtime routine is that it also provides clear boundaries. Once the child has pooped, brushed his teeth, gotten his bedtime story and 2-3 songs, then had a 5-minute snuggle with mom or dad — that’s it. The lights are off, and you leave. And he knows to expect it. He knows whats coming. That level of comfort might be what he is craving, and it’s also a contract between the two of you. You’ve fulfilled your part of the deal — now it’s his turn.
- Also, you may be able to control your child’s bedtime, but you may not be able to control when he falls asleep. Do what you can to establish boundaries and get him to respect them, and then allow him some freedom within those boundaries. Maybe the deal is that he just needs to stay in his room, even if he’s not actually “in bed.” Keep focusing on what it is he seems to be looking for, or reacting to, and adjust from there. But again, adjust incrementally.
- Dustin recommends checking out Alexis Dubief’s blog, Precious Little Sleep, and her book of the same name. Her insights helped him with his own sleepless kid troubles! Plus she lives in Vermont, so she’s got my vote of confidence. And one thing she notes, which sounds applicable to your situation, is that yes — the arrival of a new sibling can throw everything into turmoil, and what you are experiencing may be your son’s way to reclaim your attention. Which is normal. Infuriating, but normal.
- And remember: sometimes the only answer is to give it time. He may grow out of it on his own. Until then, you’re gonna have a good portion of your evening dominated by administering your child’s bedtime routine.
And now for something completely different: DOG POOP. This is actually a question the Overlords were kicking around, and we thought we’d open it up to all y’all. Is it OK to discard your dog poop in other people’s trash cans?
I may not have a kid but I do have a dog, and personally, I’m Team Yes on this. Because what’s worse: A neatly tied-off bag of dog doo disposed of in a garbage can, or a steaming dog turd left on the sidewalk? I’m always going to select the option that leads to less public piles of shit rather than more.
However, I’ve also gone from walking my dog in a city with public trash cans on every corner, to walking him along rural back roads with no trash cans at all. I’ve had to carry that disconcertingly warm baggie of shit for miles, waiting for the first opportunity to toss it — and if that opportunity happens to be in someone else’s trash can then yeah, I might go for it. But there are limits. If the bin is filled with tied-off garbage bags, then I would keep walking. I’m not a monster. If the bin has a liner that’s open, waiting for smaller trash items, then sure — why not add a turd to that mix?
But also, you chose to own the dog. Maybe the price for that is carrying your dog’s poop home to your own trash can. I can see both sides.
And then, of course, there’s the third option: just light your bag of dog shit on fire.
What do you think? Share all your flaming dog poo-pinions in the comments!