As a mother of four, I have learned the art of negotiation. Whether it’s over the number of cookies after school, how many friends can sleep over, what an appropriate skirt length is, or why brothers aren’t just for hitting, basically I’ve been in discussions that require tact, finesse, verbal gymnastics, concession and peacekeeping. But, there is one area where I am non-negotiable. Bed Time. My kids have always had a set Bed Time, and we stick to it.
I capitalize the words Bed and Time for a reason. All roads lead there, first of all (basic rule of successful parenting is to find activities during the day that entirely wear your kids out), and secondly, it is a Real Thing in our house. Here’s what I mean by that:
1. If they pull out homework two minutes before Bed Time, don’t let them do it. Tell them you’ll wake them up early so they can do it in the morning. This accomplishes two things – most kids hate getting up early in the morning so it’s a form of punishment, and you really don’t want to start monitoring a child’s homework activity at the time of night when their brains have mostly a “vacant” sign flashing. Frustrating for both.
2. If the kids insist on having a snack before bed -and this can be quite warranted after an organized sport, bike ride, or the exhaustion of pwning (owned but with a “p” – ask a teen) Mom at Guitar Hero (wait, that’s MY exhaustion), schedule the snack, and the Snack Content appropriately. Don’t find yourself promising Chateau Briand at 8:54 for a 9:00 Bed Time limit. Bowl of cereal with milk, an apple, or three potato chips. Done.
3. When they complain they don’t want to go to bed, you can say “Oh but I wish we could spend another half an hour playing Pokémon cards too, but look at that, its Bed Time. Darn old Bed Time.” Blame the schedule, not the schedule maker. Sooner or later, the kids figure this one out, but hopefully by then, they’re more concerned about negotiating that skirt length.
Kathy Buckworth is the award-winning author of several humour parenting books. Kathy’s latest book, Shut Up and Eat: Tales of Chicken, Children and Chardonnay, is available in bookstores everywhere. Kathy is a frequent guest on Breakfast Television, CTV’s NewsChannel and other media outlets. She writes columns for publications such as ParentsCanada, Blush, The Women’s Post, and Post City Magazines. Visit www.kathybuckworth.com or follow Kathy at twitter.com/kathybuckworth.