Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Fish Story

It's no secret Tory is a terrible sleeper. As in, the worst of the worst. Andi and I would've thrown her back long ago if she wasn't so darn cute because the child does not sleep well. I think Tory's slept through the night (in her own bed, not a peep until morning) only a handful of times in her young 3 1/2 years of life. It doesn't help that we bounce between living at home during the week and staying at the lake cabin on the weekends. Essentially, we're "traveling" every week of the year, so it's difficult for the kids to settle into one place.

Tory's sleep issues have varied over the years from bedtime battles, to outcries during the night, to too-early wake ups in the morning. She's never been good at soothing herself to sleep, and occasional nightmares don't help either. Over the years, Andi and I have tried every sleep training method imaginable to change Tory's habits. We've read parenting books, practiced cry-it-out techniques, implemented a sticker chart, used a light-up kids clock, promised new toys, etc. Nothing has consistently worked.

Over the years, my body has adapted to irregular sleep. I like sleeping; of course I'd like more of it ... but I can function on six hours of solid zzz's now. Andi is a different story. He works long hours running a business so he needs a rested mind to function properly, and he also gets sick easily when he's tired and stressed.

About a month ago, Andi and I were getting the kids ready for bed when my husband dropped a bombshell: "Tory, if you can sleep through the night for 20 nights, I'll buy you a fish. All night long, every night, for 20 nights. Think you can do it?"

Of course, Tory agreed. Meanwhile, I was across the room shooting dagger eyes at Andi because, dude, it is against every law of parenting to promise a new pet without discussing it first. Three guesses who'll be the person caring for a new fish... not that it's terribly difficult, but still. It's another thing to clean up around here.

"Don't, worry. She'll never make it 20 nights," Andi said.

Well, guess what?

It turns out, Tory is very capable of sleeping through the night when she sets her mind to it. Every night before bed, Andi reminded Tory about their deal and asked her what would happened if she woke up in the night. "Start over. No fish," Tory would chant in response.


Tory even held up her end of the bargain during weekend nights at the lake cabin. She's never (ever, ever, ever) slept through the night there before, and suddenly staying in her bed was no big deal. I couldn't believe it.

When Andi returned Sunday after working away from home last week, we made a family field trip to the pet store to bring home a fish called "Princess."

Tory selected a castle fit for underwater royalty. She was so excited about the whole experience.

Introducing the newest member of our family: "Princess Fish."

Tory's pretty excited about her new fish friend, and asks to feed him (it's actually a male Betta fish; don't tell Tory that) about a dozen times a day.

The big question is whether Tory has continued to sleep through the night after she got her fish, and the answer is yes... mostly. Andi's new threat deal is the fish moves from Tory's room to Aden's room if she wakes up in the night. It seemed to work earlier this week, but last night Tory called out several times for us. We'll see what happens this weekend at the cabin.

I'm skeptical of any method's staying power, but I do hope the last 20+ days created a sleeping pattern with Tory. If nothing else, I thoroughly enjoyed the last few weeks of restfulness.


  1. Whoa! That's unreal that it worked! I absolutely cannot believe that bribery was the one thing that seemed to have worked - at least for the time being! 20 nights is a long time! I'm so proud of her too - and she definitely deserved that fish! :P

  2. I can't believe it worked either! I'm thinking of buying a baby gate because my child will not stay in his bed. He doesn't necessarily wake us up, which begs the question "why do I care?" but I just hate waking up and he's sleeping on the couch, or on the pillows next to my bed. It irritates the bejeezus out of me. You have a bed, child. It's a comfortable bed! Stay in the darn thing.

  3. This is such a great story! So glad this wonderful reward actually worked for her. And I Love the little castle she picked for Princess :)
    My kids have been begging for a pet (dog, cat, fish, ANYTHING!) but I just can't pull the trigger yet. Actually, my husband is the biggest offender of wanting a pet, ha!

  4. This is so exciting! Mostly for you and your own sleep :) Glad you found something that worked even in the short term - it indicates that she can do it which is great news! Maybe I should look into a fish for Bella... :)

  5. best fishy story ever!!! Maybe if I get Callie a fish she'll seep later than 5am again.... I hope it keeps working too!

  6. haha okay that is amazing! I had to go check out your fish story. Does it work still?