Nighttime Routine: Party; Pooped
Getting kids to bed on a routine weekday night can be tough enough, but when it comes to weekend or holiday bedtimes, schedules can sometimes get really loose, particularly when Mom and Dad decide to have a grown up play date (otherwise known as a party).
I remember hanging out at the top of the bedroom stairs as my parents held MadMen-esque cocktail parties – hostess gowns, “casual” suits and cigarettes aplenty – me and my siblings watching and listening in until we were caught and sent back to our rooms. My mother now confesses that she used to set the clocks two hours ahead in the morning, and run the day that way so that at 4:00 she was feeding us, at 6:00 she convinced us it was bedtime, and at 8:00 the guests could arrive to a quiet and clean house. Pure genius (except for the part where we watched from the stairs, I suppose). I’m not sure why I didn’t deploy this strategy when my children were younger; given two of them are teenagers, their time-telling skills are quite developed at this point. Although you wouldn’t know it around curfew time. But I digress.
When night time routines are thrown off by the arrival of guests, adults, families, relatives, and assorted drop-ins, it can be hard to stick to the normal schedules at bedtime. However, having a plan in place on how to deal with this situation can make the transition from Party to Pooped a little bit smoother:
• If you are having an adults only party, consider hiring a sitter or older sibling who will be in charge of watching the kids until their bedtime, and make them responsible for night time routines such as healthy snacks, teeth brushing and bed tucking. Otherwise, ensure one parent is “on call” to handle bed time, at bed time, and schedule any meal planning to accommodate this.
• If the party includes children, check in with the families attending to see if they have any expectations around what time the kids will be up until, if they need sleeping facilities (i.e. a quiet bedroom for an infant or a toddler), or whether they’d like to bring some pyjamas for a mini-sleepover (movies/TV without the ‘over’ piece at the end) while the adults mingle in another room. Ensure they are okay with a snack choice you’ve made.
• If the children who join you are older, providing them with separate activities to do away from younger kids who will need to sleep, is a good idea. If possible, have the older kids out of the house (at a park, a movie), when younger ones need to settle.
• Once the kids are put to bed, you need to reinforce the regular “stay in bed” rules you always have.
The big downside of my Mom’s Two Hour Early plan was of course that we were not informed that the plan ended when the party did, so we deployed our own Early Timing Strategy the next morning. Perhaps this is why I haven’t incorporated that particular family tradition in to night time at our house.