I do not have a magical answer for getting your kids to go to bed and stay in bed. In fact, I do not have any suggestions for getting your kids to stay in bed at bedtime. However, I do have a little tip that may help take away the frustration you feel when your little ones refuse to stay in bed.
Like most children, my kids use to make up every reason in the world why they couldn’t sleep or why we should let them stay up. For years we tried different parenting techniques, but no matter what we tried, we still had little ones that needed a drink of water or heard a scary noise. Usually our method in dealing with our kids was to quickly comfort them and then put them back to bed. And usually we would do this happily enough, telling ourselves that this was all a part of childhood. But every now and then, we would lose our patience with the whole thing, and tell the child to “just go back to bed” and “not come out again”. We didn’t want to be cross with the kids, especially not at bedtime, which we wanted to be a warm and cozy time for the kids. One night, one of the kids came out of her room and said she couldn’t sleep because of something, and the reason was so silly we had to stifle our giggles while we put her back to sleep. Sadly, I don’t remember what the reason was, but it is what led us to create the “Bedtime Stories” book. A few days later one of the kids got out of bed with a similarly funny reason. My husband and I thought it was so cute that we should write it down; save it for when our children had children of their own and complained about not being able to get their kids to stay in bed.
We got a little notebook and a pencil and put them in a drawer in the front room. We decided the next time one of the kids came out with a funny reason that they couldn’t sleep, we would write it down in the book. We did not let the children know we were doing this. We continued to comfort them and then put them back to bed with a hug, however as soon as we put them back in bed we would get out the notebook and write down the excuse. Along with the excuse we would put the child’s name and the date. It wasn’t long before we actually started to look forward to the next clever thing they would come up with to use as an excuse!
It has now been years since our kids made up a reason why they couldn’t sleep but the little notebook still sits in the drawer in our front room. Every once in a while we will get the notebook out and read a page or two to the kids. We all crack up laughing every time, even though we have read the excuses many times before. We praise them on their creativity and we promise them that their children will do all these things to them. Our kids are already planning to keep notebooks to record their children’s excuses. Perhaps you’ll want to give this a try as well. Like I said, it doesn’t magically get your kids to stay in bed, but it does make the experience a whole lot more enjoyable.