Journeying New Zealand The Big Trip

The Hardest of Times – Getting Toddlers to Sleep

Camping by the road on the backroad to Queenstown
Written by Stuart Wickes
Cycling the backroad to Queenstown, New Zealand

The hardest time? Not the rough roads, nor river crossings but bed time.


The Hardest of Times – Getting Toddlers to Sleep

From:      Stuart and Kirstie
Subject:  The Hardest of Times – Getting Todders to Sleep
Place:      Cromwell, Otago, New Zealand


Frustrating beyond words

Stuart Profile SmallIt consistently defeats both of us, driving us to the edge of despair on a daily basis. It’s frustrating beyond words and often leaves us feeling so angry that should our self restraint give way we fear for the person who finds themselves in our way. It’s not cycling up hills and mountain passes, hauling buggies along gravel roads, cooking for four on a camp stove, camping wild on scrubby wasteland, living in each others’ pockets day in day out. The hardest of times comes at the end of each day when we try to put Cameron to bed.

Boy on bunk in Youth Hostel. Getting Toddlers to Sleep

Cameron not getting ready for bed. It’s tough getting toddlers to sleep.

The bedtime rituals

“Cameron, it’s time to snuggle down to bed,” we say as he puts his nappy on his head.

“Don’t touch the sides of the tent,” we tell him repeatedly as he throws himself against the nylon to avoid capture.

“Get into your sleeping bag NOW,” we snap to cut short the pillow fight with his brother.

“This is NOT a fun factory,” we scold as he bounces around on Thermarests.

“We’ll put you in the naughty corner if you don’t go to sleep,” we threaten as he lashes out with his bottle.

Our tempers rise: “Do you want a smacked bottom?”

“Yes please,” he nods, cheerfully running circles around us.

“OUTSIDE NOW IN THE RAIN WHERE THE ANTS WILL EAT YOU,” we scream as a last resort.

“Ha Ha it’s not raining, abra dabra you’ve turned into a baby,” retorts the devil child.

Camping by the road on the backroad to Queenstown

Cameron pays a visit to the ants

Getting toddlers to sleep? Enough to make me cry

The only tactic we’ve found that works is to weep profusely in despair, at which point he becomes very concerned and consoles us.

“It’s alright Mummy, Daddy, don’t cry, it’s OK, I love you.”

This buys five minutes respite before the games begin again. We’ve tried everything we can think of including putting them to bed in the buggies and riding them off to sleep.

Boys in Trailer Cycle Touring New Zealand

Hey this is fun isn’t it?

Darkness is the only cure

There is only one effective sleep cue for Cameron and it’s a thing we can’t give him. Milk, showers, cuddles, stories and lullabies – none of them work. The only thing that sends him off to sleep is absolute darkness, and in a tent in summer this is coming later and later. To him anything else is a game of bedtime. Real bedtime is when the light goes out. We’re looking forward to winter.

About the author

Stuart Wickes

Stuart's the adventure addict half of the team, always trying to persuade the family to get out, do more, go further. As co-founder and co-director he handles the business, creative, design, technical and publishing aspects of the project. He is our chief photographer and videographer. With training as a professional learning and development consultant. an engineer and musician, his contribution is eclectic and unpredictable!

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...

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