The Power of Stickers

It’s not every day your life changes for the better. Even if it’s something as simple as sleeping for four hours uninterrupted. But after spending the last two years convincing (begging) my two-year-old son, James, to sleep through the night, he finally did it. He forced us to hire a sleep consultant.

Every night, my wife, Ellie, and I would scrape our slippers on our way to James’ room, wait for him to fall asleep again, and head back to our room as we sleeptalked about avocados.

At his worst, James was waking up seven times a night, equivalent in hours to Martin Scorsese’s entire filmography (including The Irishman). Months ago, we would have laughed at paying for a sleep consultant, but, then again, we were too tired to think at all.

Clearly, it was time for a change. And swapping James wasn’t an option.

We contacted the sleep consultant, who came recommended by a friend. We needed someone who could tell us exactly what to do, especially when you’re as mentally out of it as a bear in hibernation.

In a matter of days, under the direction of the sleep consultant, James’ bedtime routine became a bedtime system. TV-time was reduced, black-out blinds were installed in his room, and a sticker book we had bought during the second trimester was dusted off. This had an official feel to it. Though, from the outside, his room looked like a drug den.

Within a week James was self-soothing and sleeping through the night. He was sleeping earlier too!

Was this a miracle? Scientific? I seemed to be asking anyone who would listen to me now that I had a happier disposition.

No, the answer was very simple and right in front of us: stickers.

Every time James brushed his teeth or sat quietly during storytime, we gave him a sticker. Each one was received with an impressive squeal and a big smile. I loved them! And James did too. It’s like they held some power we didn’t know about, one that can only be associated with the Greek God of Stickers.

It truly changed our life.

Since James started sleeping again, it gave me a chance to learn new things about Ellie, like how she started a new job eight months ago. And some other stuff happened to her in that time too.

She learned I still wasn’t a good listener.

After reconnecting with her for approximately twelve minutes, I decided to email the friends and family members I had neglected for the last two years, only to be distracted by videos of chiropractic adjustments on YouTube for six hours. I had the time.

In the weeks that followed, I kept coming back to the amazing power of stickers. It made me think more about our very own motivations as adults. Then I got bored. So, I went back to the CrackAddictz channel (actual back-cracking YouTube channel).

When I exhausted every possible video, I finally thought about stickers again. Why do we stop using them after a certain age? Like 17? Or 25? And why don’t we use them in our everyday lives to motivate ourselves?

With all the time in my hands now, especially in the evenings, I felt like there were new possibilities – and not one for a second baby. With the power of stickers, I could achieve anything. I could pick up tap dancing, speed reading, and even train to be a hot-dog eating contestant. Maybe all three at the same time. I could even head back to school and write my treatise on YouTube addiction.

I knew I was getting carried away, so I gave myself a new, achievable goal: running for five minutes every day. I even printed a calendar to paste a sticker for each day I ran. And after three stickers, I finally realized that I really hated running. Turns out, stickers don’t work for adults. At least not for me.

In the end, I decided not to be too hard on myself and gave myself a new goal: to not steal James’ stickers.