Ten Steps to a Sleepless Night

Step 1: Obtain at least two children (three is ideal for maximum disruption) differing in age by two years. Be sure the eldest has somewhere around eight years of sleeping experience. It is recommended that you use your own children.

Step 2: Procure a set of bunk beds and have the older child sleep in the top bunk for several days. The children will be most excited about the new sleeping arrangements and will stay up late for several nights in a row due to the utter joy they feel from merely being in the presence of such items. These nights will not be sleepless - they will just run later than usual. If on the rare chance that one or both of the children do not sleep the entire night, you may stop at step 2. If you do not achieve a sleepless night, continue to step 3.

Step 3: A child with approximately 8 years under his belt is bound to be uncooperative at times. It is after several days of insolence that you pull out the ingenious move of informing the aforementioned dramatist that he will no longer be sleeping on the top bunk. He will be demoted to bottom bunk until his behavior changes. The look of total devastation on his face signals that he is beginning to understand that his actions have consequences. Two things result from this maneuver. One, the younger child will be elated he is moving up in the world. Two, the demoted demon will stay up unusually late bemoaning the bottom bunk and insist that the top bunk is going to come crashing down, pinch his neck and his head will go "whizzing down the stairs." This shall pass in a day.

Step 4: As the kiddies settle into their new routine an unfortunate situation will arise at approximately midnight. The child on the top bunk will bound down the ladder and hot-foot it to the bathroom where he will take up the unmistakable stomach-purging stance over any porcelain device in the bathroom. A few heaves will take place along with some pitiful faces but not much happens. After a few minutes, the child returns to his place on the top bunk and trails off to sleep.

Step 5: Quickly find a receptacle of some kind that is water proof, strong and highly visible in low-light situations (a gift bag will suffice). Place that bag next to the child in the top bunk, wake him and instruct him to deposit all regurgitative matter into the bag. Promptly leave the room at this point to foolishly hope child will return to sleeping without the need for the bag.

Step 6: Receive a look from your spouse for having switched the top bunk child to the bottom bunk and vice-versa. No response is best here.

Step 7: Hear ferocious noises coming from children's bedroom and rush in to find top bunk child hovering over gift bag. He will not be done depositing dinner by the time you get there so simply enjoy the view from below because you have no way of extracting him over the rail and even if you tried, he'd certainly spew pureed club sandwich all over the new bunk and you. During a lull in the action, coax the child down and test the strength of vomit laden gift bag by shuttling it outside as quickly as possible. Place child in bathroom and assess the integrity of the top bunk sheets.

Step 8: With the top bunk only minimally compromised, it is still way too risky to return child to slumber there and fearing norovirus, no other child shall inhabit it prior to a thorough cleaning (which obviously will not happen at this hour). An executive rearrangement must take place to salvage the night. This is where it is helpful to have a third child that is not involved in the bunk bed scheme. Remove third child from his bed and place him in the middle position of the parental mattress. With any luck he will not wake but will snuggle with his mother and kick his father relentlessly throughout the night.

Step 9: Place formerly top bunk child in the evicted child's bed. In addition, take a plastic grocery bag and insert it into a fresh gift bag and staple the tops together so the plastic is secured and ensures a leak-proof design. Place next to sick child.

Step 10: Wake approximately every 37 minutes whenever the upchucking child hustles heavy-footed down the hall to the bathroom - rinse and repeat until dawn.