“Oscar! Get into bed right this second” Oscar’s mother screams over her shoulder as she struggles to bathe Oscar’s baby sister, splashing about in the kitchen sink.

Oscar runs, startled and terrified into his room, dives under the covers and squeezes his eyes together tightly.

How was he ever going to get to sleep now? He felt his heart racing and his little body quivering.

Oscar could hardly stand this anymore. “Daaaaaadddd” he wails as he peeps out from under the covers.

A few minutes later Oscar’s dad walks quietly into the room and sits on the end of Oscar’s bed.

Oscar says “Dad I’m thirsty” to which Dad replies “I will get you a glass of water but then you need to go to sleep”.

Dad hands Oscar a glass of water. Oscar takes a sip and promptly says to Dad “I need to go to the toilet!”

Dad responds with a stern expression on his face “Oscar, are you sure?”

Oscar looks at Dad with his cheekiest smile and says “Dad I don’t wanna wet the bed”.

Dad sighs loudly and says “Fine, quickly go to the toilet, then straight back to bed. I’ll wait here for you”.

Oscar takes his time dawdling down to the toilet and returns a few minutes later. He whispers “Dad, I don’t want you to go, I think there’s monsters under my bed”.

Dad looks at Oscar and speaks in a soft tone “hey buddy, I know you’re finding it hard to go to sleep on your own, but right now mum needs to bath the baby and I need to give mum a hand so we can all get into bed on time. How about I sit with you for a few minutes and, in the morning when you wake up, we can find some new ways to help you go to sleep? For this to work, I need you to close your eyes while I sit here with you.”

Oscar whimpers “but Daaaa” to which Dad replies “Oscar, I can sit here for a few moments while you close your eyes or I can leave right now, you choose”.

Oscar sucks back his sniffles, holds onto Dad’s hand and closes his eyes. Dad sits quietly next to Oscar until his breathing slows and then leaves the room with Oscar sleeping peacefully.

The next day Oscar bounds into mum and dads room. Mum and Dad look through bleary eyes as Oscar jumps onto the bed and in between the two of them.

Dad ruffles Oscar’s hair and says “Hey Oscar, Mum has to go to some appointments today, so that means you and I have the whole day to spend together. I think we should take turns choosing what activities we do.”

Oscar grins “Cool Dad, can I go first?? Let’s start by having pancakes for breakfast!”

Dad agrees and says “You can go first, and since I get to pick next I think we should spend some time working out how we can make it easier for you to go to sleep on your own at night time”.

Oscar lowers his eyelids and says “but Daaaa” until he is cut off and Dad says “remember you get to pick what we do after that”. Oscar smiles his cheeky grin at Dad and agrees.

After Oscar and Dad enjoy banana and blueberry pancakes for breakfast they sit down together and think about ways they can make it easier for Oscar to go to bed on his own.

They come up with a few ideas:

After dinner, Oscar will help mum and dad pack the dishes into the dishwasher and then Oscar will choose which pyjamas he will wear for the evening (will it be batman or spiderman tonight!?)

Once he has chosen his jammies, he will have a bath and brush his teeth. Next, he gets to pick a story to read with Dad.

Dad reads with Oscar and then it’s time to shut his eyes and drift into dreamland.

Oscar helps Dad make up a chart with a picture of dinner, dishwasher, pyjamas, bath, toothbrush, story book and bed.

Oscar can’t wait to stick each picture onto his chart when he completes each task tonight!

Oscar’s Dad loves listening to the sound of slow crashing waves, but Oscar prefers starting from his toes, tensing them, and releasing and then taking turns tensing each of his muscles from his toes all the way up to his eyes (known as “progressive muscle relaxation”).

Dad and Oscar agree to take turns using different relaxation techniques together when Oscar is having an extra hard time going to sleep.

Set time for bed
Oscar and Dad agree that Oscar will start his bedtime routine each night after dinner. Sometimes on weekends and special occasions, Oscar might be able to stay up a bit later (as long as mum agrees too!)

Use the bedroom for sleeping only
Dad thinks Oscar get’s a bit distracted by the ipad at night time, as well as some of his other toys and asks Oscar to agree not to use any screen’s in his bedroom.

Oscar tells Dad that he has trouble shutting his eyes when all his toys are looking at him.

So, Oscar and Dad decide to move all of Oscar’s toys to the play room and agree that Oscar can play with his toys in the playroom before bed.

They also think it will be a good idea for Oscar to do his homework in the study, rather than in his bedroom. This way, he can just concentrate on his bedtime routine and sleeping when he is in his bedroom.

Oscar decides that he just needs to keep one Teddy with him to help him sleep at night.

Bed time rules
Dad and Oscar agree that Oscar needs to go to bed as per the routine they have both worked out together.

Oscar will follow this routine on week nights, but sometimes on the weekends, or when cousins or friends are sleeping over, they might be able to change up the routine.

Dad and Oscar agree to try the new routine for a week and then have a chat over blueberry pancakes again next week to see how well it is working.

Next Dad says “Well, I think we’ve come up with enough ways to help you go to sleep easier at night, what do you think O?”

Oscar says “Yep! Now it’s my turn to pick, let’s go to the park!”

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