Was that a sigh? I think every parent has dealt with this issue. You get through dinner, bath time, the last bathroom trip is over, stories have been read, songs have been sung, and a sip of water has been provided. Whew! After carefully tucking them in and kissing them goodnight, the light is switched off. It is now 9:00 p.m. and the children are finally down for the night. Just as you finish your last nightly chores, you and your husband get comfortable on the couch. He is watching the local football team on TV and you found a book you really want to read.
Shortly, you get this very strange feeling that there are eyes watching you. No, surely you are just imagining things. Slowly you turn around and lo and behold, standing around the corner peering in are two tiny eyes. “What are you doing out of bed?” Welcome to parenting! While parents are completely exhausted at the end of the day, children have some form of magic built into their system that gives them an abundance of energy, especially at bedtime.
The bad thing about children constantly getting out of bed at night is that eventually, if married, your relationship will be impacted. If you are a single parent, you will be running on little sleep and even less patience. The first tip is to create a special chart outlining each action that needs to take place in preparation for bed. If the kids are old enough, find a place where they can use colored pencils and poster board to help in the creation process. Keeping children involved, helps teach them to take ownership of the process.
Drink of water/milk/juice
Get dressed in pajamas
Go to the bathroom
Read a book/sing a song/tell a story
Hugs and kisses
Switch the light off
GO TO SLEEP
This sounds too simple, right – but in truth, it is simple. Remember, children associate with routine and being able to see it will help them remember what their job is. Have a place created on your chart for an “end of the week” status. If your children followed the routine and stayed in bed, reward them for good behavior. It does not have to be anything expensive, perhaps an ice cream cone from the local ice cream parlor, a cheeseburger, and soft drink from their favorite fast food, or an afternoon of roller-skating.
Getting your children on a bedtime schedule accomplishes several things. First, it allows you to get some much-needed down time after a long day at work. Second, it helps the children get the proper rest they need. In return, they will be happier, study better for school, and overall be healthier. Finally, you will be instilling in your children a sense of responsibility and confidence in their abilities.