Sleep: the magic phrase that keeps my kids in their beds

Turtle turned 2 a few months ago. She’s still in a crib but we’ve been having issues getting her to sleep through the night recently. I know it’s normal. But that doesn’t make it any less exhausting.

Picture this: a 2 year old who’s been a really great sleeper since she was about 14 months old suddenly stops sleeping through the night. Meanwhile, her 4 year old brother, who has never been a really great sleeper, sneaks into our bed every other night. What was once a tolerable inconvenience with an occasional kick in the gut, quickly became a nightly affair of feet-in-face.

First, go to the expert

Turtle and Buddy in (my) bed - sleep

Since I needed real help (not internet help), I went to my resident expert: my mom. Her response?

“All I had to say to you and your brother was ‘night night till you see the light.’ Try that.”

This obviously wasn’t going to work. Clearly, I was an intelligent and empathetic child and understood the importance of sleep. This simple phrase worked for someone advanced like me. (No explanation for my brother…flukes happen.) But my children are sleep-hating, parent-torturing monsters! 7 words weren’t going to cut it.

But, because she’s my mom and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, I tried it.

Night night till you see the light

Since I had nothing to lose, I decided to introduce it to the kids that evening. We read our bedtime books and right before sending them off to their rooms, I told them I wanted to talk to them really quickly. It went something like this:

Me: Okay guys. It’s really important that we all get good rest tonight. If we wake up tired, we’ll be grumpy all day and won’t be able to do anything fun. So tonight, I want you to go night night till you see the light. No one gets out of their beds or cries for mommy until you see light in your window. Okay?”

Buddy: Okay, but what if I get really scared?

Me: If you get scared, who can you snuggle with that stays in your bed with you?

Buddy: Peef and Teddy!!

Turtle: Baby!!

Me: Yes! You can snuggle with Peef and Teddy and Baby and they will make you feel better! And if you’re really scared, who can you talk to any time of the night?

Buddy: JESUS!

Me: Yes! So, you’ll never be alone and you don’t need to be scared. You’ve got your lovies and Jesus! And you know Mommy and Daddy are always close by asleep in our bed. You don’t need to get out of your bed until you see the sunlight come through your window, got it?

Children: Yes!

Me: Great! Okay, get in bed. Night night till you see the light!


IT WORKED. That night was the most glorious night of sleep I’ve gotten in months! And it continues to work! Every night, we say “Night night till you see the light” as we tuck each child in. Sometimes they ask who they should snuggle with and sometimes they don’t. But most of the time, it’s enough to remind them that everyone needs to stay in their own beds.

Now here’s my disclaimer…this isn’t 100% fail proof. There have been nights where Turtle wakes up crying for me or Buddy sneaks into our bed. But it’s happening much less frequently. And there’s usually a legitimate reason for them waking up (nightmare, needs diaper change, etc.). We haven’t had the marathon of no sleep for days in quite some time. *Knock on wood*


Tell me…how do you keep your kids in their own beds? Any tips you want to share for the tired mommas out there?