The Night my 2-Year-Old Wouldn’t Go to Sleep

The Night my 2-Year-Old Wouldn’t Go to Sleep

This afternoon I was out for several hours with my daughter at an appointment, and then running a bunch of errands downtown. When I finally made it home at 8:30 PM, I was wiped out, and not very pleased to discover my 2-year-old, Yonatan, who is usually asleep by 7:30, wide awake.

The family member who had watched the kids for me explained, “He was dirty, so I gave him a bath, and then he fell asleep around 5 PM for 2 hours. And now he’s up again.”

My response, clouded by equal doses of exhaustion and frustration, was not well-thought-out or diplomatic or thankful in the least towards this family member who had just watched the kids all afternoon.

Pointing at Yonatan, I said bluntly, “This is a disaster. When you give him a bath he gets tired and goes to sleep, no matter what time it is. Now he’ll be up forever. Don’t do that the next time!”

So there I was, delirious from exhaustion, with a bunch of kids to get to bed and a 2-year-old to keep me company and drive me crazy until G-d knows when.

I lay down on the sofa, and tried to get some rest while I call out some orders related to toothbrushing and clothing-changing.

And then I did some thinking, re Yonatan.

In the Power Series course I started 3 weeks ago, teacher Dina Friedman gave us some homework.

Every day this week, when we have to do something we don’t really want to do, we need to ask ourselves the following questions:

1. What do you want?
2. Why do you want it?
3. How would you like to feel?

Here’s how I did the homework one day this week when I had to clean up the downstairs and really would have rather done anything but.

Before I started cleaning, I asked myself Dina’s 3 questions:

What do you want?
For the house to be clean.
Why do you want this?
Cause I need to start cooking and I would rather start with a clean kitchen.
How would you like to feel?
I would like to feel so happy and relieved to have such a spic and span house.

So tonight, lying on the sofa, I resolved to do today’s homework on my wide-awake 2-year-old.

“What do you want?” I asked myself.
“To be in a good mood even though Yonatan will be awake when I’d so much rather be done with toddler-duty for the day.”
“Why do you want this?” I asked myself.
“Because I’d rather have a pleasant evening than a grouchy, frustrated ‘why is he still up!’ evening.”
“How would you like to feel?” I asked myself.
“I would like to feel happy and even enjoy Yonatan’s company.”

And yanno what? It worked.

In the end I had a sweet time with Yonatan (he did look so cute, his wispy blond hair positively floating on top of his post-bath head).

And Moriah and I joked around with him (Moriah asked, “Yoni, who is cuter, Moriah or Yoni?” Yonatan’s response, “Abba!”)

And when he started getting tired, I held him on my lap, and he nodded off to sleep at 10 PM (not as terrible as I’d thought) and I sang him HaMalach HaGoel for the first time in his life, and thought how this was a shampoo-scented memory I would cherish forever.


  1. Oh wow, that is so sweet and powerful!

  2. Great advice, thank you!

  3. You gotta hear this! So I was reading this article while nursing my baby to sleep. I started asking myself the 3 questions about something I didn’t want to do when I was done nursing – making lunches for my children.
    What do I want? I want lunches to be made by someone else.
    Why do I want it? I don’t like always finally being free of baby demands and then having to remember to take out food all over again and sort it into lunch bags.
    How do I want to feel? I want to look forward to doing lunches like I look forward to folding laundry (which I really do!)

    I stepped out of the room and my ten year old said, “Guess what?! Tatty taught me how to make tuna and I made everyone’s lunches for you!”

    As I hugged her, I yelled, “Hey, it works!”

  4. Wow, that touched my heart, so sweet, so special, so precious, ty for sharing! Love those questions, could’ve used them at 2:30 am when 19 month old was up and crying.😊

  5. that technique sounds super similar to the work ive been doing from a workbook called “excuse me your life is waiting for you workbook”
    highly recommend!

  6. I really loved this it has so many applications beyond young children and can be carried forward to any life situation and stage. Thanks. ‘Mom’

  7. I hope you had a chance to rebuild the connection with your daughter. Nice that you could switch your mood!

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