Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Calming the Weremama Within (aka Introducing the Bedtime Pass)

Look, it's a WereMama that loves you.  
My mom always told us kids (there were six of us) that she turned into a Weremama at 9pm sharp.  And since 9pm was when the ornery-yelling started, we half-believed that assertion and stuck to our rooms.  But I didn't truly understand what my mom meant until I, myself, became a mom.  Only, it turns out, I don't have as much patience as she did.  The weremama in me lets loose pretty much anytime after 8pm.  Some days even earlier.

A few months ago, bedtime in our household went something like this.  My husband or I would go through the whole bedtime routine.  Book, song, game, cuddle, prayer, teeth etc.  We would tuck the kids in, make sure they had their last drink of water and leave.  But every few minutes one of our lovely kids (aged 3 and 5) would come up and bug us.  "Mom, I need another toy."  or "Mom, I'm hungry" or "Mom, will you cuddle me." or "Mom, I just remembered that you said I could go down the slide one more time at the park today but then I didn't go on the slide so can we go back to the park?"  You get the picture.  This would continue until one of us went all Werewolf and yelled them back to their rooms for good.  Awesome parenting, I know.  

Then, I decided to put my schooling to work.  Enter the Bedtime Pass.  This is a very simple intervention developed by a fellow behavior analyst.  And by fellow, I mean someone much cooler and smarter than I who has been in the field at least 20 years longer than I have.  Here is the actual study if you are interested.  In a nutshell though, you give your kid a get of of bed free pass.  I made ours on a 3x5 card and let the kids pick the design (it helps to involve your kids in the process as much as possible).

See, nothing fancy
Then we had a family meeting to explain the importance of sleep, parents getting alone time etc. and introduced the Bedtime Ticket.  We explained that while we want them to stay in their room and go to sleep, we also want them to be able to get us if they need us.  So if they need something, they can use their ticket to come get us one time before they go to sleep.  The kids were very excited.  Apparently tickets and control are cool.

That night, we did the bedtime routine as usual and then asked the kids if they needed anything else (water? hug? stuffed animal?).  Before we left, we reminded them that they can always get up to go potty (as long as they go right back to bed) but they can only use their ticket ONE time to get up and then they must stay in their bed.  The difference was amazing.  My kids use their ticket once and then stay in bed.  Aaaahh heaven.  and no more Attack of the Weremama.  Win for everyone.

Easy Bullet Point Summary (I'm not always in the mood to read rambling paragraphs either).

Bedtime Pass
  1. Make Get of Bed Free Ticket on 3x5 card with your kids help.
  2. Call family meeting to explain ticket.
  3. Bedtime routine like normal (making sure to ask about drinks, and potty before you leave).  Remind kids they can only leave their room if they have a ticket. 
  4. Help kid with what they need if they use their ticket.
  5. If they leave without the ticket, say "Sorry, you already used your ticket" and direct them back to their room. Repeat as necessary.  
Sounds simple but it works.  And if it seems like it is working alittle but not quite working enough--stay tuned for my followup post.  As the novelty of the ticket wore off, I have had to add another system as well.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for introducing me to the bedtime ticket. I had doubts, but it is THE BEST THING EVER. So far, it works like a charm.