Bedtime Routines

A thorough list of bedtime rules can go a long ways to calming your children right when they want to stay up all night.

I made it a game at our house. Posted on the bedroom door is a list of bedtime rules for each child to abide by. Initially, I thought the idea would be a flop but it turned out to be a hit.

To get started, think of how to make it fun. Using colorful paper to print on is one way to get started. Next, with a greeting card program I added some cool graphics that were fun enough to get their attention but not too wild as to distract the purpose of my new list. If you don't have a program to design a sheet with rules on it, make it fun with markers or crayons and have your kids help out.

Next, is determining what the bedtime rules will be. I thought first about what were the primary excuses for getting up out of bed after being tucked in, and applied those. For instance, in our house, asking for another drink of water is a classic. So I was sure to have that one high on the list. Another famous request is to run for another bedtime toy. This too had to be limited or we would never get any sleep. Another rule of ours is to instruct that no talking will be allowed once in the bedroom, if it is shared with siblings. Everyone deserves respect and the ability to sleep at night, so no talking is permitted. For my young boys, no running or rough play was allowed either. Most nights they thought bedtime was for learning wrestling and they never calmed down at a decent hour.

Once the rules are on the decorated sheet of paper it can be posted prominently on the bedroom door. Each night, at bedtime, we would read the rules and let the children know the consequences of disobeying. Most times I would let them know they would have to relinquish their bedtime toy if they broke one of the rules. This kept them tamed most times. For more difficult evenings, I asked who wanted to skip cartoons the next day for not listening at night. That was another good follow-up because the next morning was usually time for their favorite TV shows.

It may not go without a hitch initially, but with some patience and persistence, creating an organized bedtime rule list, your children will feel more organized themselves and more apt to behave right when they usually want to stay up all night.

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