Monday, June 1, 2009

No More Boys Yelling, Crying, or Stomping Feet on the Way to Bed

Do you ever have a difficult time getting your kids to bed? Well, my husband and I did. It would be an evening of a series of orders: 1) time to take a shower, 2) put your pajamas on, 3) go brush your teeth and rinse, 4) hop into bed. Now is that so bad? Then why did it take all evening to accomplish four things? By the time they finally got into bed we were all exhausted just reminding them several times to do the next thing. Or they were all equally worked up and pout, or some tears and stomping on the way to bed. (My husband used to read to them in bed or I would, but I would certainly fall asleep while reading to them. Now we do are reading time after dinner - and I still nod off once in awhile.)

I had enough of this bedtime escapade so I told them if you are in bed by 8:00 p.m (now I have a friend who has all four of her kids in bed by 7:30 p.m. sharp) then you get a back scratch and massage (because the kids love those). If you are in bed by 8:15 p.m. then you just get a back scratch only. And if you go to bed after 8:30 p.m. you have to pay me five cents a minute each minute you are late.

Do you think this worked? You betcha it did (I sound like the detective lady from Fargo). Not only does it work, but now they are self motivated and get to the next stage without me asking them to do it. The older child will watch the clock for the younger and call out, "You only have five minutes to brush your teeth and rinse before you have to pay." It is a lovely thing - and the novelty of it still has not worn out. They absolutely hate to be late and have to pay me their hard earned cash and they also love the moments they have with me giving them a full body message.

Now getting them up in the morning might be a different situation one day, but right now they just hate to rush to get to school and they hate to eat their breakfast in the car. We have already told our son, who is going into fifth grade this fall, that come sixth grade it will become his own responsibility to get himself up or the "bus" is leaving. We will be getting him his own alarm clock. I had one friend call her daughter's teacher and warn her that her daughter might be coming to school in her pajamas if she didn't get herself up in time - and guess what - that girl always make sure she was up and adam and ready for the morning "bus" on time.

What techniques or rituals do have in the evening? How do you get your kids to bed? Any suggestions for less stress in the morning time routine?


  1. I like your idea, I think I'll try it when I'm a parent :)
    As a social worker I give adoptive and foster parents "parenting advice" all the time. Most of the kids on my case load dont have enough self motivation to do what your kids can do. So going to bed can be a very difficult task, and most of these kids need a little more hand holding, especially the younger kids.

    One idea I have used before with my clients is making a "Going to Bed Chart" that outlines all the tasks the child must do before they can go to bed. It can have pictures and be really fun. That way you dont have to repeat instructions, just make sure they check it off their chart. Another important key is keeping a routine as a family and giving the kids plenty of warning time before starting the bedtime routine. I think something else that is really important, but difficult for many parents, is to just stop what you are doing and talk to your child in a calm, loving way. "I know you don't feel tired right now and you are having a lot of fun with that game. Sometimes I don't want to go to bed either when I am doing something fun. But if we don't get enough sleep, tomorrow will be a really tough day and we will miss out on all the fun we have when we get a good night sleep. Now what can I help you do to get ready for bed?" I think simple communication and empathy with your children can go a long way.
    My mother in law always says, "If you want to have disciplined children, you have to be a disciplined parent." Not always easy, but who said parenting was easy, right?


  2. That's a great idea, Sharon. I'll definitely keep that one in mind for the future as it may be better for boys that are older than two or four??? Or maybe not... my kids always surprise me with what they comprehend at an early age. But until they can read a clock, I guess I'll continue to be the clock for them... Actually, I have an invention idea to have an event-based clock, wherein you could program in your schedule and various icons and such come up at the appropriate time (moon for night, sun for day). Perhaps there could be a kind of "count down to bedtime" as well.

    On this subject, one thing that we deal with is that my husband doesn't get home sometimes until 7:30 or later from work, and of course, we all want to hang out for a while before bed time, but that often gets the kids to bed later that preferable. Any ideas on that one?

  3. Laura,
    Well as a Dad speaking. On nights when I was getting home late and could only spend a limited time with my boys. It would be great if the kids were already finished with the bedtime routine (a routine longer and more time-consuming that I could have ever possibly envisioned) and had their jamies on. That way when I get home all my time could be spent with them making memories. Like throwning them around the bed, or beatting their little butts in a hotly contested light saber battle. I'd much have them remember that about me as they're closing thier eyes then instructing them about how to properly to brush teeth
    My 2 cents

  4. Since I don't have any kids I don't have much to add to this conversation but I do admire how you are raising your kids.

  5. i'm just waiting for the day Nix starts making excuses to stay up longer... i did that as a young girl, and a lot of times it worked! ;)

    i'll def. be coming back to this blog post for some helpful hints!!

  6. Thanks, Clif... I can definitely see where you're coming from!