How to Leave a Sleeping Child’s Room: A Fool-Proof Plan


Sneaking out of a sleeping child’s bed is truly an art form. Just when I think I’ve gotten it down to a science—a formula I can replicate or share with other moms—the formula changes.

That said, since I have successfully wiggled my way out of my children’s bed (yep…two kids, one bed) multiple times this month, I feel confident that these tips will be helpful to someone else.

Approximately 12% of the time.

You’re welcome. 😉

  1. Stay calm.

    Easier said than done when you’re at the end of the day and the end of your rope. But calm is key. If you have two littles, you may end up in a mommy sandwich, stuck between the one who wants you to cuddle a certain way but can’t decide which way that is: Mommy, don’t put you’re face near mine. Don’t turn your face away. Don’t put your arm around me. Mommy I need your arm around me! And the other child who just wants to make sure you cannot leave the bed once he’s asleep. (He does this by wrapping his arms and legs around you like a sloth that hangs upside-down from a sturdy branch.) You have to stay calm. Showing any sign of frustration will make them cling to you longer, dragging out the entire process. They know impatience. They sense it and feed off of it. Your job is to make them think you’ll be there all night. You’ve got nowhere to be, no deadline to meet, no husband waiting for you in the other room. You must be easy, breezy, calm, and collected. Act sleepy yourself, if you even need to act. 

  2. Be patient.

    The first moment you think they’re sleeping, they’re not. Not enough for you to sneak away. Those deeper breaths and light toddler snores are deceptive. Do not trust them. This is especially true if there is more than one child in the bed with you. Wait five minutes, and then five minutes more.

  3. Begin detachment (gently).

    Carefully move your arms and their arms so that you are no longer tangled, but do this carefully. They cannot sense any shift in the air around them. If your arm is resting on a belly, first just flex your arm muscle in a way that removes the weight of it from their belly, but doesn’t completely remove the arm. You’re still touching, just not in a weighted way. Then, slowly move your arm away, putting only millimeters of space between you and them at a time. Once your arm (or theirs) has patiently reached a comfortable spot, wait some more. 

  4. Begin the dismount (even more gently).

    This is the hardest part. Employing the same tactic as above, it often takes the right leverage to sit up slowly without disturbing your sleeping little ones. It’s easier if there is only one child and you are at the edge of the bed, because you can slowly roll off instead of having to sit up. But for those of us in a mommy sandwich, this takes more practice. Find something that you can reach out and hold. For me, my boys sleep on the bottom bunk of a metal bunk bed. I can reach up and grab a rung from the top bunk to help pull myself up without putting pressure on the mattress and causing unnecessary movement. Sometimes, it’s easier to reach for the head of the bed frame and push. Sometimes, I can reach over the outside child and hold onto the side of the bed frame. You choose whatever works for you. If you have nothing, sit-ups during the day may help you do this with no leverage. Good luck. 

  5. Step 4 may put you back at step 1 if you aren’t careful.

    Also see: You haven’t waited long enough for deep sleep. If this happens, be prepared to repeat the process several times before giving up and submitting to sleeping in the sandwich position for the rest of the evening. 

  6. Once you’ve made it off the bed… 

    … exiting the room requires just as much care. Tip-toe around all the legos and hardcover book corners that may leave you in pain should your feet meet them. Be careful to memorize where your floor creaks are and avoid those spots, too. Try to be light as a feather. Floating out of the room would actually be preferable to walking, if you can swing it. 

And that’s all there is to it! Just a couple of hours of painstaking patience and learning to move more quietly than you ever thought possible. Anyone can do it. 

I’ve heard there are moms out there who can put there toddlers and pre-schoolers to bed and leave before they fall asleep. I’m not sure I believe that. Fairy tales, I say. 

How do you get your little kids to sleep? Do you have tips more successful than these? I’d love to hear them!


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Rachel is currently a full-time student at UCCS pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with the intent to continue on to a Master’s program in Counseling, Social Work, or other Human Services (she’s hoping there’s still time to decide). On the weekends, she teaches Sunday School to a group of fabulous K-3rd graders at the church her family has grown to love immensely since they discovered it over two years ago. Rachel is a military spouse of almost seven years and is married to the most incredible man she’s ever met. They began dating in high school 10 years ago and have been inseparable ever since. They have a four year old who loves to read, assemble puzzles, and learn about the solar system, and a two year old who enjoys pushing his older brother’s buttons when he isn’t learning the alphabet and how to count from him instead. Both are hilarious and kind, just like their father. Most days. While free time is rare, Rachel can be found spending some of it with her hubby, on a coffee date with friends, or reading an occasional book (so long as it can keep her attention). Periodically, she can carve out an hour or two to blog under her sentimental pseudonym, Gabby, about her faith, marriage, and other heavy, personal things that come to mind. Her Facebook page is a bit lighter and happier to follow ;). A words-of-affirmation-junkie and an INFJ who wants nothing more than to emerge from her shell, Rachel’s mission is to keep an open mind and to always be learning about the people with whom she shares this crazy, beautiful world.