Having Bedtime Struggles?
Bedtime Routines Should Fit Your FamilyI have three very active kids all under the age of 7 and up until about 6 months ago bedtime has always been our biggest struggle of the day. We went through the Babywise course when we first had children so when they were babies bedtime was very easy, but once they climbed out of their cribs, we became powerless.
We tried the routines, we tried consistency, we tried rewards, we tried punishments but nothing worked for our family. Over the years, my husband and I dreaded bedtime so much that we each would make excuses as to who should be in charge of the bedtime each evening. And we looked everywhere for advice. My favorite was my fathers advice, "just let them roam around the house and they will eventually fall asleep." Obviously he didn't know my children that well, I imagined my kids finally dozing off from exhaustion at 4:00am after eating all the food in the kitchen and toilet papering the house.
I knew I had to come up with a solution that worked for our family so I started thinking about what they were really fighting: not wanting to end their time together with mom and dad. So I thought of issuing them a ticket that they could redeem for 10 minutes of private time with Mom or Dad if they stayed in their bed after nighttime routines, The Private Time Ticket. The tickets allowed 10 private minutes with mom or dad doing what ever they chose.
The tickets were printed on bright green cardstock and each child was handed them with their own crayon to fill in their name and activity. The very first night it worked miraculously! The kids were asleep in under 5 minutes. A few weeks later a ticket was lost one night to my oldest son when he got out of bed after the Private Time Ticket was issued. His ticket was ripped up for getting out of bed and he was devastated. But after this time, it never happened again and bedtime has been a joy.
The best time about the tickets is getting a chance to redeem the tickets with my kids. It is a good reminder that even as a working mom, I can find 10 minutes anytime during the day to take a break to spend with my kids and even though we do spend a lot of time together as a family it is rare to have one on one time with each child.
The day after the first tickets were issued, my 5 year old son came in to ask me a question while I was at my desk working and I said, "Ethan, I really can't right now I really need to work." He said "OK" and politely left my office. I thought, boy that was great listening, he must be growing up! I was back to work and then about 2 minutes later he came walking in my office with his Private Time Ticket, "Can I redeem this now." I laughed and gave him a big hug, "Yes, we can redeem this."