Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Room-Sharing Dos & Don'ts

- let the kids go to bed with a puppy flashlight that barks and a dinosaur flashlight that roars
- give the kids Dr. Pepper before bed
- play Guns'N'Roses, hoping they'll enjoy the beat as they're heading off to slumberland

I'm not really sure what works and what doesn't, except for the above very obvious ideas. I have to issue a lot of disclaimers on the room-sharing advice:

1. the boys have been sharing a room since Thomas was 6 months old and Charles was 2 years old, so they don't really know anything different.

2. we move around a lot and take a lot of business trips as a family, so they (and we as a family) have maybe been forced to adapt more than other kids their age.

3. bedtime doesn't always happen the way we as parents may want it to

4. the boys are not in school, so if they get to bed late it doesn't necessarily affect anyone but our family.

With those disclaimers out in the open, here are some ideas that have worked for us:
- a longer wind-down time. Charlie usually does bedtime, and he's found that if he tells longer stories and does longer sing times, the boys don't get up as many times.
- the later we put them to bed, the easier they go down (duh, this one you may want to use only once in a while).
- relax (this one is more for moms like me, who may start freaking out that their kids' minds are going to be developmentally damaged because they aren't getting enough sleep, or going to bed at the exact 8:00 bedtime). I have found that letting Charlie take over on bedtime, and assuming minimal responsibility myself helps me to actually relax.
- depending on the situation, we usually let them chat and laugh for a while once the lights are out. Or if they come out once or twice needing water or to go potty, we let them go. But we do draw some kind of limit. That limit would have to depend on what you are comfortable with as parents.
- I use a sound machine, one that does running streams or a waterfall, so that outside noises don't bother the kids so much. Also, this minimizes the boys waking each other up when one wakes up before the other.
- and, I totally cheat at naptime - I lie down with them until they're both asleep.

Here's another idea that may work great for parents with older kids. Some friends of ours got each child a bedside light. Every night the kids had to get in bed at their specified bedtime, but could read for as long as they wanted. They could not talk or play or get up, but they could read. That would give the kids some control over the bedtime situation. Plus, ease the parent's "disciplinary role", giving a clear boundary. And their kids seemed to do fine. I haven't seen too many kids who are able to stay up dangerously past bedtime anyway.

My thoughts are also, if you have one strong-willed kid who can stay up until midnight, rather than try to battle it out with them, let them for a few nights and eventually they'll fall asleep at a reasonable time. But I haven't tested that theory, it's just a guess.

Anyway, for what it's worth, those are my room-sharing ideas. I'm no Dr. Spock, but this is what has worked for us. Hope it helps somebody out there! (...and if you have suggestions, please leave a comment!)


christy said...

i don't have anything to add, i just wanted to say:

SHOT through the HEART, and you're to blame, you give LOOOOVVE a bad name!

try to get that out of your head now. this is what your post has bestowed on me this morning. ;)

be_a_Mary said...

thanks for all the tips!! i agree, a longer wind down time has helped, especially as the kids get older. :)

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