Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Not an EXPERT yet

So, after 11 1/2 years and 6 kids you would think that I have parenting down pat, but I am always learning new things (or am being reminded of things I used to do, but have gotten out of practice). In fact, I learn from Tami and Andrea with their two year olds and new little babies all the time. The other day, Andrea was telling me she enforced time out with my niece and (surprise) it was just what I needed for Joseph.

Tami is here visiting me and yesterday she was telling her little girl she could have popcorn after she picked up the crayons. She told me that her coach (helping Madison stay on track developmentally despite being deaf) told her to hold up the right number of fingers and count off what you want them to do as you point (IE first pick up crayons, then eat popcorn). Laughing, I called over to Matthew: "Matthew first, pick up crayons, then you can have popcorn," pointing on my fingers. I kid you not, he looked over at me, shrugged, and started picking up crayons. When he was done he walked over to the microwave and waited for his popcorn.

Now, if you had asked me, I would have told you he was too little to understand being asked to do chores (I guess that is what happens when you're the youngest, I am sure I thought my oldest was practically an adult by the time she turned two). But my youngest sibling taught me a valuable technique and showed me it is time for Matthew to join the chore world of his brothers and sisters.
So, here is where I need advice. I know that I have taught 4 kids how to go to bed. I know because we do it every night (although not always perfectly, they all sleep in their beds- or at least their rooms). Somehow I have forgotten how to teach this trick. In our first rental here in CT (which was furnished) the bedrooms were dark, scary, and the beds were not overly comfortable. Matthew slept in the extra bed in Elise's room and Joseph (scared to be alone) slept with whomever would let him. Now that we are here and have our furniture, those two boys are together in a room, but never sleep there. Every night they are in someone else's room. So how do I get two to go to bed at a reasonable time in their own room? Any suggestions welcome (I am willing to consider hog tying, but would prefer a gentler method!) And the other four have gotten lax about going to bed on time so I wouldn't mind suggestion for older kids, too.


  1. 4:04am? Maybe you could teach by example!
    I have no suggestions. My methods make hog tying look lax. You'll have to ask me in person because I'm not sharing for all the world to read and judge!

  2. There is someone in my brain that when bedtime comes around flips a switch and I can no longer be a mother. I am not sure how to stop that, but it is really like night and day (litterally) One minute I can be a great mom, then when bedtime hits BAM! I am just plain DONE for the day, not matter if I had a good or bad day.

    Anyway, I know routines help us out a TON. It lets the kids know what is coming. Nathan will stay in his bed if we offer him gum in the morning (that is part of the routine, which makes it legal right?)

    Plus I remember when Elise and Ryan were little and we would be at your house playing games at bedtime. You guys were STRICT, they were not allowed to come out of their rooms, so maybe just yell more, that always seems to work for me.

    I am writing this before bedtime so this is the "good" mother side, incase you were wondering.

  3. I am glad to hear time out worked! Well, I guess I would be happier to hear that your kids are so awesome they don't need time out.

    Anyway, I agree with Brenda on the routine thing, I don't know what you guys have established but so far that has been a huge help for our kids. Addie had a really hard time going to bed after we had Jace and again when we first put her in a big girl bed. It was hard but every time she got out of bed we would just pick her up and put her back in her bed without saying a word. That way she understood that is where she was supposed to be and we weren't giving her attention. Sometimes we would have to do it like 20 times, but after a few nights she stopped trying to come out of her room. We are not pros in any way, but that is something that has worked for us.

    Keep us updated on the situation! I would love to hear what you try and what works.

  4. No suggestions for you, but I just wanted to say hello to my dear cousin :)

  5. I switched my time zone from Pacific to Eastern. Is that more reasonable :)

  6. I also like the routine thing and I liked Andrea's suggestion of putting them back into bed without saying a thing. Sometime we get so mad at them that it gives them attention even though it is negative attention. I also would suggest making their room somewhere they like to go. Like maybe a special light that they get to turn on only when they go to bed. Something that would keep their attention until they fall asleep. Before long it will flip in that they will want to go to bed and not get up when they should. I also learned alot from watching Tami with her kids. Lucky you to have them visit.

  7. Kent and I believe you cannot control when a child falls asleep, but you can control their location. So our tried-and-true strategy is to lock the kids in their rooms. We simply reversed the doorknobs so we can lock it from the outside. A few people have questioned us whether that is safe, but so far we have never forgotten to unlock their rooms when we go to bed ourselves. Maybe you could set an alarm to remind you to unlock doors. In eight years of doing this, I can count on one hand the number of times a child has locked a sibling in a room. (Make sure you have a way to get out if you become the victim of this. I had to climb out the window and run through the snow with bare feet when I got locked in accidentally.) The older girls can be trusted to stay in their room, so we haven't had to lock theirs in a few years. We stayed at a condo this last weekend, and it was nice to shut the kids' door, and wiggle the knob so it sounded like I was locking it (though I obviously couldn't). The kids assumed it was locked and just stayed up there talking until they fell asleep.

    While I have used locked doors for several years, I just recently changed our bedtime routine so it didn't end with frustration on anyone's part. (I can relate to Brenda's "flipped switch".) We started a routine that gives the kids ten minutes to get ready for bed: brush teeth, PJs, get a drink, use the toilet. Then we have a little evening devotional. We sing a Primary song, let everyone take a turn saying what they liked about themselves that day (we hope this will help the kids develop a positive self-image), talk about some way that the Lord has blessed us that day (refer to President Eyring's talk last Fall), say our family prayer, then read to the kids in their rooms or tell them stories from our childhoods. The whole routine takes about half an hour, and it has really helped everyone go to bed calmly and I don't feel like a mean mom at the end of the day.

    *A note about President Eyring's idea. Whomever thinks of the blessing for that day records it in our family gratitude journal when they go to bed. I've noticed that person usually reads previous entries too, which makes it a little more rewarding.

    By no means do I claim that we are good at this routine every day. It usually only works when we start it at 8:00 p.m. Sometimes we skip certain parts if the kids are being difficult or if we have let them stay up late; usually cut out the reading in bed. But I have noticed a change for peace and having the Spirit in our home when we do this. I hope it will give you some ideas. Let me know.