Our Bedtime Rules
I don’t profess to be an expert, but then I do have several children. There are certain things about childrearing that I know and can share. Hence this blog. Kids need discipline and correction. Nothing too strict, but clearly delineated rules. I am not one of the free-spirited moms who says anything goes. You are asking for trouble as the kids get older. They whine and cry if they don’t get their way. To avoid this, you start day one with your particular agenda. It can include not eating between meals, no candy without asking mom, no swimming without an adult present, everyone shares toys, pick up your clothes and if soiled, put them in a hamper. As times go on, I add finish your homework right before dinner, don’t play in the street, don’t hit friends, never bully any child, and listen to your teacher. I say these rules so often that I don’t need to write them down like some parents who use a blackboard in the kitchen. Not a bad idea, really.
Where I do get really serious is with the kids’ bedroom routine. I read about this here when I was first pregnant and have followed an established program that everyone says works like a charm. Everything is done the same way each night and at the same time without fail, even if we are on vacation. There is no argument this way and it helps minimize morning chaos and, above all, ensures a good night’s rest for all. Despite complaints about watching more TV, listening to more music, one last chance with their favorite toy or playing with my cell phone, the children learn what is best for them. It is instinctive. After a few tired and groggy mornings, they get the reasoning behind the rules. They know that without good sleep, they don’t enjoy playing the next day.
It is easier with your older children and, by all means, use them as role models for their younger siblings. In fact, let them convey the rules themselves. I hear them recite them in a mockery of my voice: go to the bathroom before getting into bed, only one story and its sleepy time, brush your teeth and wash your hands, etc. It is a litany of parental regulation and I love it. In fact, sometimes the little ones invent their own rules and boss the older kids. It makes me laugh out loud.
“Don’t take my pillow and mess it up.”
“Leave my teddy alone.”
“Don’t poke me to see if I am asleep.”
“Don’t sneak in the kitchen and eat my cookies.”
“Look under the bed and see if there is a monster.”
“Close the window. It’s cold.”
Bedtime is fun for every parent because the kids are so adorable in their pjs all snuggled up in their blankets. With assorted stuffed animals scattered about the bed, they look like story book characters.