Hi Good Mama,
I’m so sorry, Sandy that it took me awhile to get back to you. We’ve been down with the flu for the last week. And I’m sorry bedtime is tough.
Since I only have one son, who is 13 and puts himself to bed, I checked in with one of our Instructor Candidates who has 2 kiddos about the same age as yours. She recommended a few great ideas:
1) EXPECT that they are going to need you for at least an hour and PLAN for it. I would add to that START EARLIER. Bedtime was the first tough time I tackled when my son was about 5. Bedtime tends to kick up a lot of FEAR because it’s a time of SEPARATION. We are hard-wired for Connection and Play and bedtime is the end of connection and play.
It’s great that you are already thinking about putting more connection and play into your bedtime routine. I say start earlier because what really helped us, was me thinking of bedtime starting as soon as we got home from school. That was the beginning of bedtime, and I did my best to make our connection and play pretty seamless. We did Special Time when we got home, We had an early dinner. I moved the reading of books to the dinner table because the ending of the books just before “lights out” was to difficult for my son. It was a transition on top of a transition. We did piggy back rides to the bath and then back to the bed after the bath. We had a wild 2 minute pillow fight and then I would say ‘lights out’. I’d put on the music, turn out the light, and my son would crawl into my lap and most nights fall asleep within 10-15 minutes.
2) Our Candidate Dorina says that she gets the best results from playing rough’n’tumble physical games that are specifically about bedtime. She starts being playful from the moment she announces it’s time for bed. Saying things like “I hope these children stand still so I can get their pajamas on them”– which of course, starts them running, and then she chases them wildly around the room, and never quite catches them. She plans that she will have to do this for about an hour so that they can offload enough tension/fear through the laughter and they feel connected enough and powerful enough that they can relax and fall asleep.
This is our Tool PLAYLISTENING. – where you PLAY with the refusal/behavior and then LISTEN for the laughter. Dorina has found that she gets fewer avoidance tactics when she does this kind of play where she takes the LESS powerful role and goes for the giggles. I’m including 3 articles that have lots of ideas for Playlistening games. This first one has kiddos of different ages, so I think it can help spark your imagination.
Since bedtime is separation, these games can do double duty.
And then some ideas for when you are too pooped to play:
As for the Mommy/Daddy fight, just know that this is a PRETEXT – an excuse to get upset when the real issue is the FEAR OF SEPARATION. You can PLAYLISTEN with this as well.
Lastly, if you do not have a LISTENING PARTNER yet, please, please, please get some Listening Time yourself. It is a huge job to be supporting their feelings and tension by yourself. YOU need emotional support in order to be able to be playful and patient and even BRING A LIMIT. And Dorina says that it inevitably happens that one child wakes the other. Getting regular Listening Time will help you to prepare emotionally for that possibility, understanding that they are just scared – not trying to torture you.
You are already on your way to handling this good Mama. I hope our thoughts help. Let us know how it goes,..
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
Follow me on facebook: Parenting by Connection with Kathy
“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi