What time bed-time?

>> Monday, 11 June 2012

What time do your children go to bed?

Don't worry, this is not some social services sponsored survey, or a Daily Mail research question asked with the intention of writing a piece about the shocking time that we as modern parents put our children to bed.  I'm just interested in how the rest of you achieve what should be a relatively simple exercise; that of putting your children to bed in a timely manner.

Can it, I wonder, be done without shouts, cajoling, and threats?  Today's doozy was that unless Boy #2 stopped complaining his pillow wasn't plumped up enough  - poor little Lord Fauntleroy that he is - I wouldn't have time to make fairy cakes* for his end of term** party taking place tomorrow afternoon.  Bad Potty Mummy.

Unsurprisingly, the threat worked and you could hear a pin drop as I completed the task in hand (isn't the mixture for vanilla fairy cakes delicious?  Who needs dinner, anyway?) whilst making enough noise in the kitchen with my ancient electric mixer to wake the dead.  And amazingly, even with the motorbike-like noises that the 20 year old machine emits, by the time I had finished the cakes at 8.30pm both of my little angels were fast asleep.

I could pretend that this is a result of our nightly routine being smoother than a baby's bottom.  I could.  But I won't torture you with such smug lies.  I suspect, in fact, that it was more to do with a riotous weekend, when the Boys had a couple of similar aged house-guests staying (never a recipe for an early night or a lie-in), and a bbq that got a little out of hand (curse these long light evenings!), which meant that on neither Friday nor Saturday night were they in bed at anything like a respectable hour.

So now, after a day at school, they are exhausted.  Which helps somewhat in the pursuit of a reasonable bedtime hour in a season when the sun doesn't set here until around 10.15pm and it stays light until gone 11pm.  But I would really love to know, other than blackout curtains and blinds (already in place), is what blandishments and bribes you use to get your kids in bed on time during the summer.  Answers in the comments box, please...

* Yes, FAIRY cakes, none of your cupcake nonsense.  In Union Jack cases too, so there... (Can you tell that much as I love living in an international environment I am SO ready to head back to Blighty for a couple of weeks?)

** And yes, it is the end of term for us this week.  No, you don't have to say it.  I know...


Circles in the Sand 11 June 2012 at 19:34  

9pm tonight. Sigh! Here's a post I did on a tactic I discovered: http://dubaiunveiled.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/the-bedtime-debacle
It still works!

heather 11 June 2012 at 21:17  

My step daughter is apparently horrible about bed time at her mother's house. At our house we say, "It's bedtime" and she trots right off to bed. I have no idea what the difference is other than she figured she can get away with it at her mom's.

nappy valley girl 11 June 2012 at 21:43  

Mine are supposed to go to bed at 8pm, but in the summer when it's light it grows closer to 8.30/9. They aren't too bad, but I have to say that Sunday night is always awful, because they are usually hyped up from the weekend. I threaten one of them with having to sleep in the spare room if they carry on making noise. That usually works, as they don't want to sleep alone!

Knackered Mother 11 June 2012 at 23:01  

My boys are in bad by 7.30pm and are still chatting away and swapping lego well past 9pm. Youngest girl has just dropped her daytime sleep so is out for the count. But the boys...it's a hopeless case!

MsCaroline 12 June 2012 at 00:13  

Never had much trouble with this. I never threatened, cajoled, or bribed. I just told them what would happen if they didn't obey - and I always followed through. They never tested me more than once or twice - too unpleasant. (and no, I did not use corporal punishment. I just put a lot of thought into what consequence would be the most unpleasant for that particular child. One of the best was telling Son #2 that, if he kept his brother awake, I would put his brother to bed in MY bed -a huge treat at our house - because Son#1 needed his sleep - I am also a big believer in 'natural' consequences. The next night, Son#2 was doubly miserable - he had to sleep alone, and he had to deal with the knowledge that brother was having the thrill of going to sleep in my bed. This would not work for everyone, but it was perfect for my children. You know your own kids best. ) Another key was tying the misery of the consequence to the behavior: when Son#2 started roaring, I just kept repeating, " I know you're angry and I am sure the next time I tell you it's bedtime you'll make a better choice." If the child (like Son#2) is extra-stubborn,this conversation can go on for hours, giving you ample opportunity to repeat yourself over and over. However, it's worth it in the long run. It also gives our little boundary-tester ample opportunity to connect his present anguish with previous behavior, which is the key to making this work. Down the road when they get to their teens, this is really useful as well,because they already know you mean it when you tell them that you'll confiscate their laptop or the car keys or remove them from the football team. There is no need for them to test you, and with teens, that is an excellent thing.

Jen Walshaw 13 June 2012 at 14:36  

I have suffered so much with this. Maxi has always been a head hits the pillow and bang kind of boy, but mini fights sleep and is hell the next day.

We are currently using a relax kids MP3 which helps him wind down.

Potty Mummy 13 June 2012 at 19:01  

Circles, will be checking that out - I need all the help I can get...

Heather, it's not like they manipulate us or anything, is it?

NVG, I think buying a spare mattress might be in order. although our 'spare room' is their toy room, so...

KM, ah, the lego swapping. How I hate the lego swapping!

MsC, you're right of course; it's all about carrying through.

Jen, may have to look into that if this keeps up!

Carolin @ Mummy Alarm 13 June 2012 at 22:50  

Amy at 13 months goes up to bed around 6pm. Often she doesn't fall asleep until 6.30 - 7.00 o'clock as she fights sleep and finds it hard to wind down, but I make sure she has quiet time from 6pm onwards, so that she calms down a bit.

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