Tyrannical Threes: How to Get Your Toddler to Sleep in Her Own Bed

Our mama has trouble keeping diapers on her kid — and her kid in her own bed. Got advice?



A not-so-funny thing happened last night. Coraline doesn’t want to wear a diaper to bed lately. To her credit, she frequently wakes up dry, but not frequently enough that I’m prepared to let her sleep in bed with me without one. So last night she starts begging me to take off her diaper. I say no. We do this a few times (she is persistent). Then, much to my surprise, she lets it go. Several minutes later she tells me she wants to put pants on. So she trots off to her room and comes back donning some polka dot shorts. She gets in bed and soon after, falls asleep.

At around 1:30 in the morning, she wakes me up. “Mama, change my pants.” This is not an uncommon request; she often wants a wet diaper changed in the middle of the night. So when I reach down to take her pants off I’m unpleasantly surprised to find her — and the bed — totally soaked. When she put on her shorts, she took off her diaper. Sneaky devil.

I won’t pretend that I handled the situation appropriately. I was too tired and horrified at her sneakiness to be as patient and loving as I should have been. But that’s sort of par for the course these days, the hour and circumstance only an easy enough excuse in this particular instance. It’s like all my patience flew the coop at the exact moment it became so necessary, when Coraline’s development and temperament renders her more sensitive, more persistent, and more clever than she’s ever been. What is up with that?

Not quite sure how this will all shake out -- or how much damage will be done in the meantime — but my first order of business is transitioning sweet CJ into her own bed. Just like weaning, it’s an easy enough milestone to push off until later, which admittedly, is what I’ve been doing. Change is scary. But if I’m learning anything on this crazy, frustrating, awe-inspiring roller coaster of a parenting journey, it’s that often the hardest thing to do is the best thing, for everyone.

If any mamas out there have any advice for surviving the Tyrannical Threes or easing the transition of a toddler into their own bed, please share!

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About This Blog

Shannon Gallagher

Shannon Gallagher
Rhinebeck, NY


Dutchess County native Shannon Gallagher is a contributing editor for Hudson Valley Magazine. An erstwhile thrill-seeker, these days she courts disaster of a different variety wrangling a spirited toddler, honing her vegan baking skills, and chasing the ever-elusive work-family balance. She teaches Pilates and does fascial bodywork, and lives in Rhinebeck with Coraline, a cat named Otie, and Sushi the Fish (named, of course, by the toddler).

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