Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bedtime Bribery

My dear sweet sister in law, who is the mother of my 11 month old nephew, asked me recently, "What does bed time look like at your house?"

"Well," I said, "at around 7:30 we get pajamas on, we brush our teeth, we read two stories and say a bed time prayer. I kiss Monkey good night, but Moose always refuses. Then I put them in bed and tuck them in. Then I say goodnight and turn the light off, and crack the door. Then Moose comes out and I nicely tell him to go back to bed. Then I get up, and put him back in bed. And then Monkey comes into the living room, and I tell him to go back to bed, and he dances in the hallway, and then I put him in bed. And then I hear the door close. Ten minutes later Monkey is crying. I go into their room, and the light is on, and the sheets are off of the beds and Monkey is stuck in the window or Moose wont let him in the closet or took his toy, or the other way around, depending on the night. So I put them back in bed, and say good night. The processes repeats itself, and I'm screaming 'GO BACK TO BED!' And then, around 10 pm, they finally wear themselves out and they fall asleep." At this point I think I was about in tears, and my poor sister in law didn't know what to say.

I believe in bedtime routines. I believe that having consistent and predictable activities in the evening help calm and relax children -- just not my children. We've had the same routine since they were 9 months old. We added brushing teeth in there at about a year, but otherwise it has been, PJs, Teeth, Books, Pray and Bed. But bed time always seems to be a struggle for me. I recently added a nightly bath with lavender soap last month, to no avail.

And here's the thing that really drives me crazy. I struggle with bed time most nights all by myself. My husband works an evening shift, and typically arrives home just as the boys are falling asleep. The other night, as I was finishing up story time, my husband shows up -- he got off early. He prayed with us, he tucked the boys in. He put Moose back in bed ONCE, and the boys were off to sleep before 8:30.

So, I've decided to bribe them. My mother-in-law calls it rewarding, but I still think it is bribery. I made a bed time game. Each boy gets three stars, after prayer they get to put their stars on the bed time board. If they get out of bed, I get to take a star. If they have stars left in the morning, they get a sticker. If I have all the stars in the morning, I get a sticker. If they get 10 stickers, they get to go out with just mommy or daddy for ice cream. I think if I get 10 stickers, I should get a day at the spa.

Bed Time Board
Supplies: Wooden Craft Stars and moons, magnets, 12x12 frame, 12x12 metal sheet, 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper, paint, E600

Paint stars and moons with yellow paint. Add initials or other accents.

Once paint is dry, attach magnets to the stars using E600 or a hot glue gun.

Put scrapbook paper and metal sheet into frame.

Glue moons to frame.

Hang frame on wall and wait for your two year old to say, "Why dat on wall? Take it down. I no like it!" and then start crying when you don't remove it.

Warning: Don't hang it up until the glue is dry or gravity will cause your moons to slide down and get E600 all over everything.