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The Tablet, a Modern Day Pied Piper

July 31, 2013

There was a miracle in our house shortly before Sarah was born.  I’m not talking burning bushes, walking on water and other simple miracles that can be performed by any deity, I am talking true blue miracles of universal size and scope.

My children moved into their bunk beds, stopped fighting us at bedtime, were asleep by 8:30 and slept all night.

I’ll pause a moment so you can be sufficiently awed.

Prior to this miracle, we would spend 2 hours getting our kids to bed, never having them asleep before 10.  So this was just amazing to us.  For weeks we would look at each other, try to say anything about the situation and just end up shrugging as we had no words.  Having to move the kids into a room together was high on my con list for having a third, who knew it would lead to such wonderful things.

Fast forward a few weeks to Sarah’s arrival at home.  As we all know the fine CIA operatives at Guantanamo could learn a few things about doing sleep deprivation right from having newborns around, this goes triply so with older kids in the fray.  So once I was back to work and my wife’s angel of a sister went back home, we were left with the realities of 3 hours of broken sleep at night.

Every precious second of sleep became our drug.  We would have sold our car for 25 minutes of sleep.  So whenever I was drug out of bed at 7 am by the older children, I would drowsily put Netflix on the TV, plop on the couch and the endure the worse-than-no-sleep twilight that is trying to doze while being sat on and nagged by two kids  After an hour of this self-induced but powerless to stop torture, I would finally get up and do those annoying parenting things, like feed them.

Then, one morning, my son came in and asked for TV.  In a moment of brilliance desperation I thrusted my tablet at him and told him to watch whatever he wants, and quickly fell back asleep.  A full hour later, I wake up, of my own accord, and hear laughter from both children wafting in from the living room.  

I looked next to me, yep, the wife is still there.  

How could this be?  I make my way to the living room and there, sitting shoulder to shoulder, are my children who are huddled in front of the tablet watching a cartoon.  They greet me with a huge “Hi Daddy!”

I went back to bed.  Seriously.  I was giddy.

Now this has become a daily affair.  They get up, grab my tablet and hang out on the couch together and watch netflix on my tablet.  We were getting as much as TWO extra hours of sleep…and we still have our cars.  Was this another miracle in the making?

No.  It’s the pied piper tablet.  For a few weeks everything was just amazing.  My son and daughter seemed to really bond over their alone time in the mornings.  It was sweet.  There was actually a paradigm change.  Instead of calling for us in the morning, Kaylee began calling for Jack.  If Jack was up first, she’d hollar “JACK…JACK…JACK!!” and he’d go into the room, and wait while she climbed down from the top bunk (yes, that is the arrangement they chose, the 2 yr old on the top bunk).

But, if Kaylee woke up, it was less cute.  She’d call: “JACK…JACK…WAKE UP JACK….WAKE UUUUP.”  Ok, still cute, but not conducive to his sleep schedule.

All of these things built on each other and the result was the kids getting up earlier and earlier, they just enjoyed it that much.  So now they weren’t getting enough sleep, they were watching too much TV and their relationship degraded quickly.  They were fighting all the time, they were cranky constantly and life in general became pretty miserable.

So this week we are all going through rehab and we are going cold turkey.  No more tablet in morning and greatly reduced TV during the day.  We’ve pulled the TV band aid off before and it stings like hell, but the results are amazing.  So, here we go again.

What is something you’ve done with your kids to make things easier that ended up biting you in the behind?

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