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Monday, March 1, 2010

Bedtime Cleaning Party

It's 10:40 PM here in Georgia right now. Most children are sleeping soundly, snug in their beds. Most children have BEEN sleeping soundly for quite some time now. My children are NOT like most children. They do not seem to feel the need to sleep. THEY are NOT tired.

These nights come around every so often where the children really do not desire sleep. They would rather stay awake and play, or more likely - annoy me. Now, I could fret over this and fight with them over the virtues and requirements of bedtime and sleep. It would be a valid endeavor on my part to force the issue of staying in bed and going to sleep. After all, I have to be awake until after they are sound asleep. (Just trust me on this one. Leaving those two unattended before they are actually passed out is never a good idea.)

Instead of arguing, I have the ultimate solution to sleepless nights. When these nights come around, I declare a Bedtime Cleaning Party. Here are the rules:

1) You have to stay IN your room.

2) You have to be actively CLEANING your room and putting toys away. (One would argue that the toys really should be put away before bedtime, but here in the real world... )


4) As soon as the cleaning is finished, they have to go back to bed. 

The cleaning party usually lasts for about an hour. The girls spend a great deal of time and effort putting all the toys and books where they belong and making sure everything is just perfect. In fact, the nighttime cleaning parties are far more effective at accomplishing a clean room than any other efforts we've tried. They both know that the longer they engage in cleaning, the longer it will be before they are returned to their beds. This works well for us because we do not have any strict schedules that we adhere to and because they both tend to sleep longer when they spend less time fussing before bedtime. They get the distraction of being out of bed. When they go back to bed, they both feel as though they've gotten away with something so they know that it really is bedtime and there will be no more concessions.

I get the pleasure of a clean bedroom with all the toys put away. (Well, at least until they wake up in the morning...)


TulipGirl said...

Great idea!

We used to be pretty strict schedule, hard and fast bedtime parents.

And then we moved to Ukraine.

Reality was, with people in the house most evenings, early bedtimes were ludicrous. Instead we adopted a late-to-bed, late-to-rise routine. Ben Franklin wouldn't approve, but it worked for us.

We returned to the States, put the kids in school, and the kindergarten teacher chided me, "What time does he go to bed? He's the only one in class who actually falls asleep at naptime!"

That wasn't the deciding factor, of course, but now that we homeschool (again) our routine and rhythm is our own.

Yet some nights. . . some nights this would be the perfect way to address nighttime restlessness. . .