August 1, 2007

Bedtime Routine

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If you want to see Momzilla, just watch me put the kids to bed. Just what is the name of the fairy who comes and turns the pajamas inside out, hides the water, and strews toys all over the house?

I finally grew tired of hearing myself growl that I came up with a new plan. One that requires 15 minutes of barking versus closer to an hour. I call it, "The Six P's."

Pearly whites
Procure water
Pick up
Pick a book

Okay, so the alliteration is a bit much. But we are geeks, so of course our three-year-old correctly uses "procure." And it does help to have them all start with the same letter.

When the kids are all snacked and bedtime rolls around--7:00 for us [evil grin], I set the timer for 15 minutes. Then I holler [because this is just the type of thing that has to be shouted] "START YOUR P'S!!!" and the kids begin working their way through the list. The younger kids need assistance, but my oldest (5) can manage the P's on his own. I give a warning after 10 minutes.

Once the 15 minutes are up, the kids get their reward based on performance. In our family, they earn points toward their weekly "pay" [another post entirely]. Your reward could be an extra story, a coin in the piggy bank, a trip to Disney World.

Yes, there is still the nagging and helping and huffing. That pretty much sums up parenting anyway. But somehow "racing against the clock" gets the kids moving. Plus, they like their predictable routines, and using a chart* gives them control over their environment. The incentive at the end helps too.

I know that some of you alert readers are thinking "I know!!! I know!! You can add 'Pray' to your list!!" Well, we don't include that in the 15 minute madness because the prayers would sound like this: "ThankyouGodforthisfoodAmen". [Well, they usually sound like that anyway, just slower.]

So if you find yourself starting the bedtime routine at 4:30 just to get it done by 10:00, maybe you can try The Six P's. Then Momzilla will visit but she won't stay for quite as long.

We are mothers, hear us roar.

*If you would like a pdf or Word copy of our chart, just e-mail me and request your file preference.


T with Honey said...

We just started using a timer 2 weeks ago and it is one of the BEST investments ever! Instead of bath time lingering on for half an hour or longer she is in an out in 10 minutes or less. If the timer beeps and she hasn't washed her face the I get to do it!

And we have used a routine similar to yours since Princess was 1 year old. Great advice!!

Kara said...

Bedtime routines are great. We used to not have any routine and bedtime was awful, then a few months ago I set up a simple routine for my Toddler and it works great. Brush teeth, read book, say prayers, and in bed. I usually get him a sippy of water afterwards too. He still doesn't like going to bed but now he's so used to the routine that he just goes right along with it. Now we just need to figure out a routine that works for Baby.

At A Hen's Pace said...

It's been awhile since we used the timer--maybe I should pull it out again! Thanks for the tip, and thanks for stopping by today!


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