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Is Bedtime a Nightmare?
Hi! I’m Dana Obleman. Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about the evening bedtime routine.
I know for a lot of you, myself included, that the bedtime routine can become a dreaded part of the day especially if your children like to stall or drag their feet or make negotiations with you. What was going to be a half an hour, nice, lovely bedtime routine is turning into an hour or two of stalling and arguing and potentially, yelling. That’s not a great way to end the day for anyone.
I want to give you some strategies for making the bedtime routine go a little smoother, be a bit more enjoyable for everyone.
One of my favorite strategies for bedtime is a timer. I love the timer. I use the timer for all kinds of things in my house.
I just really feel like it’s a great way to end the battle. I’ve got a timer here. If you can get ready for bed before the timer goes, then you can have your bedtime story. If you can’t, then you miss the story. Again, you’re giving your child the opportunity to make a good choice. Get yourself into your jammies, get your teeth brushed, get your hair combed.
Whatever the steps are in your bedtime routine, get it done in an appropriate way. The reward is, we get to sit down and read one of your favorite books! You don’t, and we don’t get to have that experience.
Now, I am a huge believer in reading to your children, so I get it if you miss a few and that will be hard for you. But again, there has to be a consequence somewhere in here. Otherwise, it’s just this endless cycle of you getting angry and your child not listening and this unhappiness occurring in the house. If you know me, I love consequences and there definitely has to be one for this part of your day.
Now for little ones, you need to break this up into a bit of a more manageable chunk. Let’s say bath time is where you’re having some struggles. A lot of kids get into the tub, they’re having a great time. They don’t want to get out. They also know that when they get out, they have to go to bed and maybe your child’s not totally with you on that one.
Set the timer from step one in the tub. Give your child about 10 minutes of tub time. Tell her that when the bell rings, she has to get out in a cooperative way, or else she misses her story. She does that, great. Out she gets, buzzer goes.
Then you go on to the next step. We’ve got five minutes to get your jammies on and your teeth brushed. If you can do those two things before the timer goes, you’ll get your story. If you can’t, then you’ll miss it. Let’s say she does all that correctly. The bell rings, all that’s done. If there’s any more steps in your routine, set the timer for those as well, so that it gets done.
A tricky spot for a lot of children is the teeth brushing. I can remember when my children were young, all three of them really resisted getting their teeth brushed. It was a bit of a battle every night, trying to get the teeth part done. I’ve heard from enough people and clients to know that this is a tricky spot in the routine for a lot of young children.
I’ve got three non-negotiables in my life–sunscreen, brushing your teeth, and bedtime. I don’t care if you want to do it the hard way or the easy way. It’s getting done. That’s a great thing to say to your child, that we can do this the easy way, where you cooperate and we get your teeth brushed, and you can do it. Or we can do it the hard way, which is, basically, mommy forces you to brush your teeth!
A few times of the hard way is not fun for anyone. Your child will start making some positive choice. If he knows that if he does it the easy way–that means for a minute, mommy does it and for two minutes, he gets to do it–he will start picking the easy way. It became so easy for us that it was just, “Easy way or hard way?” I didn’t have to say anything more to them except for those two words, and they would pick the easy way.
Make sure that that’s a non-negotiable. Teeth have to be brushed. One way or the other, they’re getting brushed. So set your timer. Make this a no-brainer. What I love about the timer is that it takes the onus off you. It’s not “oh, mean old daddy or mean old mommy says I have to put my toys away and get ready for bed.”
It’s the timer. Kids are very good at understanding. It can almost become a bit of a game for them “Oh, I have to beat the timer!” It really spurs kids. Even in my house today, if I say to the kids I’m setting the timer, all of them run, to the bath and the shower, because they know they’ve got to beat it.
I hope that gives you some strategies to try to make your bedtime a little more manageable. What I’d love to see a bedtime routine be is roughly 30 minutes. I find that anything longer than that gets a little overwhelming. It drags on too long for the kids, especially the little ones.
Let them shoot for a half-hour timeframe. That’s lots of time to get the chores done that need to be done before bed. Just make this a little more peaceful, and then enjoy some story time together at the end of it.
Thanks for watching, and sleep well!
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