Full question: How did you enforce bedtime if young kids didn't want to stay in their rooms?
Several parents through this question or others have mentioned spending time talking with each individual child at night and how helpful that was in communicating with them through the years.
Other thoughts - bedtime routine including covering all the bases (drinks, bathroom, etc.), no negotiating but being firm about staying in their rooms, letting kids read in their rooms, not allowing young kids to open bedroom door, staying by the door until they were asleep to make sure they stayed in their rooms, lots of daytime activity, not letting kids get riled up right before bed (soft lighting, quiet things like reading, prayer, scriptures), not allowing kids to sleep in your bed.
Most parents say they didn't have too much trouble - although they may not remember the troubling details by now. :) At least one couple did mention having trouble getting their young kids to stay in bed.
Marsha (and Richard)
I don’t remember bedtime being a major problem. I think it was because getting out of bed was simply not an option. Once the children went to bed we didn’t ever give in or change our minds. We were morning people, not night people and we needed the evenings to ourselves.
Children do well with routines. We had a bedtime routine of family prayer, good night kisses, using the bathroom, brushing teeth and getting a drink. Then we had a story and they said their individual prayers and were into bed. They were never allowed to get out again. Everything was covered. Even when they had nightmares or were sick or something, we just joined them in their beds until they were asleep again, so we could then return to our own bed for a good night’s sleep.
In later years I read an article in the first Ensign Magazine which started with someone’s child asking, “Mommy, why do you love me so much more in the morning than you do at night?” She suggested using that bedtime as a time to stay and talk for a few minutes with each child. I picked up on that idea and used it for years while the children were growing. Before kissing them goodnight, I would talk for a few minutes with each child. We called these “talks”. With the last two children I often sat in the hall outside their two bedrooms and would sing inspirational children’s songs to them for a few minutes. This helped them relax and get to sleep. It is a priceless memory and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Sometimes very meaningful and helpful information was shared during these talks and there was an especially close feeling.
When the children were babies I nursed them right before putting them down. My children didn’t take to pacifiers but somehow the routine rocking them while nursing in a quiet dark room and then putting them into bed helped them to know it was nighttime and they went to sleep.
I believe in ending the day peacefully and with a good spirit but no negotiations.
Mary (and Robert)
When the kids were really young and especially at nap time, if they didn't want to stay in their room I shut the door on a belt or washcloth. It wedges the door tightly and they couldn't open it. Our oldest boy always got that treatment. Then later (after mommy's nap) I would open the door and find him asleep in a box or on the floor when he had gotten tired of playing.
As the kids got older, it was basically the same. At bedtime they had to stay in their bed but they were welcome to read. Before it got too late (our bedtime) we always checked and did a lights out.
Karen (and Lance)
We never really had a problem. We put them to bed when it was dark, except in the summer when it is lighter, and they never seemed to complain. In the summer we just tired them out during the day with walks and other things that take down the energy. I remember my dad showing me the poem by Robert Lewis Stevenson. It was something about going to bed by day, that was summer. It's a cute poem and probably what many children wonder. I must have rebelled on going to bed, ha ha. Children have to know that you mean it when you say something. They will test you all their lives if you don't set some rules. It's nice, when they are younger, to read to them while they are in bed or tell them good stories of your childhood. One thing we remember was to not get them too riled up before bedtime. Try to make things calm and turn down the lights before they go to bed. Bright lights always seemed to keep our children in high spirits. When it was more serene they calmed down and were ready to go to bed. Best wishes to you all and hope this can work for you too.
Marianne and John
We were not experts at enforcing bedtime. It seemed like bedtime was a battle every night when the children were young. After stories, prayers, etc. they were supposed to stay in their beds. Some obeyed, others found every excuse to have some more mommy or daddy time. It got better as they got older. They could keep the light on and read after bedtime but had to stay in their bed. (At least most of them developed a love for reading.)
Danielle (and Jake)
I used the chapter on Bedtime routine in the book by Howard Sloane, "The Good Kid Book". Every chapter in that book addresses similar issues and gives parents things to do that will solve the parenting problem. It is a great book. My children still use it in their homes.
Abigail (and Martin)
I don’t remember having a problem with the kids staying in bed. We tried to follow a routine as much as possible. When they were little it included a bath. We made sure they had a drink and sometimes a snack before they went to bed. My husband read scriptures to them each night. When they could read by themselves, we allowed them to read in bed for an extra half hour before lights went out. One of our children taught herself to read at age three just so she could keep the lights on longer, but she stayed in bed. Another loved the extra half hour of reading, but has found that she associates reading with falling asleep.
Rachel (and Bennett)
I would put the kids to bed with stories or songs. Then I would shut the door, and often had to sit on the floor by the door until they were asleep, to keep them from getting out of their beds. Eventually they knew I was there, and wouldn't try to get out of their room. But often, it was some time before they fell asleep. By the time bedtime rolled around, my patience was thin, and I was not in the mood for much stalling. Sitting on the floor by their door with a pillow and/or a book, was a little "time out" for me--a chance to rest from the day!
Cynthia and Brad
Back in bed. Back in bed. Back in bed. Repeat until they get the message and give up. But parents don't give up, or it's the Pavlov's dog story.
Kenneth and Catherine
Fortunately each of our five children had their own rooms and they wanted to be there so it was not a problem for us.
Next week's question: What did your family do on Sundays when you were on vacation? Did you go to part or all of church meetings? How did you spend the rest of the day?