Let’s face it: this holiday season, many of us will have the task of getting kids-hyped-up-on-chocolate to fall asleep beside us in hotel rooms or in a grandparent’s spare bedroom. This is no easy task; if it were, someone would’ve won the Nobel Peace Prize for Parenting.
Saturday night, in a desperate attempt to get my five-year-old twins to fall asleep in a hotel room, I pulled five strategies out of my parenting-backpack. They all failed.
Strategy One To Get My Kids To Sleep: Make It a Competition
This works well with any siblings, but especially with twins, who’ve competed for everything since womb-space was an issue. I’m desperate to get into a book – or just have hallway noise to contend with – so I say, “First one to fall asleep gets a million points and wins.” My kids stop their game of tag-on-a-bed and flop down into a corpse-like pose. Then Vivian rises from the dead to say, “Wait a minute. If I’m asleep, how will I know I won?” Chaos ensues.
Strategy Two: Contain the Problem
“Get under the covers now,” I order. Like two well-trained turtles, they go under the covers, all the way under. They proceed to build a fort. I could call it a kingdom since the only language they speak is Giggle. When this strategy doesn’t work, I shift to a more extreme version of containment: musical beds. I switch places with William.
Strategy Three: Unite the Troops with a Common Enemy
“There are people trying very hard to sleep on the other side of the wall,” I say. Both kids stop, look at the picture of bison hanging on the wall. “They might be very grumpy if they can children giggling,” I caution. Not sure where this attempt went awry, but both kids double over in a fit of laughter.
Strategy Four: Issue the Penultimate Threat
“Okay, it’s not funny anymore. Mommy’s serious,” I say. Now, I’m not a certified pyschologist, but I know enough about human (mis)behaviour to know that this is the final statement of those with the authority of a gnat.
Strategy Five: Bring in Reinforcements
At this time of year, skip Daddy and bring in the heavyweight. It’s why I love December, really. “Mommy’s going to call Santa.” This shuts ‘em up for a few minutes, but not for long, so I pick up the phone and dial ho-ho-ho. I fake a call and, while Meryl Streep does not have to worry about being dethroned this March, I’m convincing enough for two five-year-olds.
Sixty minutes have passed since I implemented Strategy One. The passage of time has the desired effect on Vivian and William’s volume level. Vivian dozes off first. Ten minutes later, from my look-out post, I spot Wiliam commando crawling at the foot of his bed, sneaking his way to his twin sister in an attempt to rescue her from slumber. He is sent back to isolation, and finally succumbs to sleep. As do his parents. Mercifully.