Ideas for Bedtime – Feed the Pig!

Do you have one of those kids … get them all tucked in, last trip to the bathroom, story read – kiss ‘n hugs, night-night sweetie – and you walk down the hall for an hour of quiet time, adult style.

Two, or 5 minutes later comes the familiar call, “Mommy, I need a drink of water.” or “Mommy, I gotta go tinkle.” . . etc., etc.

And this routine gets repeated several times before little Suzy or Sammy finally manage to give it up and settle down for the night.

I had one of those. She would call me back many times before finally giving in. If I insisted that she stay in bed and go to sleep, her little sobs would escalate to screams and tantrums – and then it took me much longer to settle her down!

Back then, I had a rather large glass jar which I kept in the corner of the front hall closet. Any time I came home from shopping, I would hang up my coat, fish any loose change out of my pockets and drop it into the jar.

My daughter caught on to my routine and would hold out her hand for the change.Then she would carefully put the coins into the jar, one by one. She learned that pennies were ‘one’, nickles were ‘5’, dimes were ’10’ and quarters were ‘a whole bunch!’

One day I gave my daughter her own jar with a slot for the coins. Then I told her there was going to be a special way for her to earn coins to fill her jar.

That night, just before I gave her the final kiss good-night, I handed her a little cloth purse. Inside were four pieces of paper which I called her “tickets.”

Then I explained our new game. Every time she called me to get out of bed or get a drink of water or to go tinkle, she would have to give me a ‘ticket.’ In the morning, if she had tickets left, we would count them and I would give her some coins for her jar.

If she only had one ticket left, she got a penny. If she had 2 tickets left, her reward was a nickle. For 3 tickets her pay was a dime. And, if she had all 4 tickets left in the morning her prize would be the big one – a quarter!

I made it clear, no arguments. You get up, you give me a ticket. But that was okay.

The first night she got up twice, and I got two of her ‘tickets.’ When she realized I was serious about charging her to get out of bed, she decided to stay put and hang on to the remaining 2 tickets.

In the morning, when she had 2 tickets still in the little purse, I gave her a nickle for her jar.

The second night Suzy only got up one time, so in the morning I gave her a dime for her jar!

The third night, she called me once and then changed her mind when I asked for the ticket. In the morning I gave her a quarter – the big one! And lots of praise for a good job! She was beginning to enjoy this game, and so was I.

It was not long at all before Suzy would get up in the morning with a smile and present me with all 4 tickets so she could put a quarter in her jar. Sometimes I would give her a choice between pennies, nickles, dimes – mixes that added up to $.25 – or the quarter. It became a fun way to learn about counting, money, and saving money!

One night I heard her crying in bed so I went in to investigate. “Mommy,” she said. “I really have to go to tinkle, but I don’t want to use a ticket.”

At that point I assured her that, if she really had to go, I understood and would give her a free pass! I told her that, sometimes, I even had to get up at night to use the bathroom – but not very often.

Eventually, the jar turned into a fat little piggy bank and the morning routine was to feed the piggy. The night time problem was long gone and our ticket game was not needed – but the game was a fun thing between us.

It also led to further adventures as she grew up. We emptied the piggy and started her own savings account at the bank. That was a proud day for her!

For holidays, since she had lots of toys, she would ask her grandparents for money to “feed the pig.”

Later on, when Suzy needed money for school lunches – or other items, she would always ask for an extra coin or two for the pig.

Nice to report that she now has established the piggy bank routine with her own children!

Look how fat my piggy is!
Look how fat my piggy is!

 

Bedtime with the kids

Good news or bad news? I know parents who struggle for hours every night to get their child to go to bed, while, for other families, it’s easy peasy!

Every child and every family are different – that’s a given. And there are always ‘special’ circumstances, of course. But here’s my take on bedtime for kids. . .

Mindset is key. Going to bed is a good thing. Everybody does it. It’s a special time – special routine, special clothes, special blanket or soft toy, etc. (Special book to read, of course!)

Never, ever make going to bed a punishment! And never make it an argument – it shouldn’t be. Who’s in charge? If a parent says it’s bedtime, well, then it is! Great. Grab the toothbrush, the pajamas, the special toy, let’s read the book – and goodnight.

Don’t waver, especially with little ones. If one night their fit-throwing tactics win them extra hours then of course they’ll try it again, and again. . . Get junior used to a good healthy routine. 😉

Parents need their time too! Having a peaceful time to share together or to simply relax before your own bedtime is a good thing. You don’t need to feel guilty because you work all day and only get to spend a couple of hours with the kids at night.

Letting kids stay up late will only make you, and them, tired – and probably cranky too.

Make the hours that you do have before the children’s bedtime be good ones. Find out what they’re up to. Talk to them! Play games with them! (real games like in the old days. 🙂 Then plan some good time to do things together on the days when you’re not working.

So how about you? Do you have a special routine at night to send your child off to sweet slumber without a battle? Let us hear about it.

Thanks for reading –