OK, who out there has children who purposely delay their bedtime? Raise those hands high and proud. If we are being truthful, I would speculate that the majority of people reading this blog who have children would have their hands raised. Our family now has a tradition which we call sleep nights that evolved out of night after night of delayed bedtimes.
A couple of years ago, we noticed that the kids were asking us to sleep with them for a little while at bedtime. "Will you sleep with me for a little bit?" they would ask. It started to become a question that was asked almost every night. My son, who could sell eyeglasses to a blind man, began to ask nightly for someone to sleep with him. If the answer was no, he would ask some philosophical question he knew we would want to answer immediately to keep us in there. On the rare occasions that we did say yes, we began to notice there were some really great conversations which were taking place there in the dark prior to the final closing of the eyes to sleep.
After talking about it, we decided to try to do a sleep night for each child once a week. Currently, it stands as Madison Monday, Lauren Tuesday, and Nathan Wednesday. We try to limit it to 15-20 minutes unless we are deep in discussion about something. We might change the sleep night to another night if we got in really late due to an activity or if we had company over. For the most part though, we try to stick to the schedule. It is amazing to me how excited the kids are about their night. It is not always the same parent. It just depends if it is Carl's bed night or my bed night that night. We think this is good, because that way they are getting to bond and communicate with both parents.
It has been amazing what the kids will discuss when they are by themselves just one on one. We talk about how Mom and Dad met and about puberty. We talk about good character and being bullied on the playground. We talk about what movies the kids might want to see or if they are still sad about the move. We make up silly rhyming songs or pretend the stuffed animals are talking and roll play. We talk about behavior problems and problem solving. We snuggle and laugh. It is a time where I have said numerous times, "Why didn't you tell me this before?"
For whatever reason, I think the kids share better in this environment than any other. It is their time for one on one. They feel comfortable all snuggled up in the dark in their beds with Mom or Dad by their side. Each child feels it is fair. There isn't any more asking about sleeping with them, because they are getting that need filled on their sleep night.
It has been a great tool for us as parents too. It has been a sacrifice for us, because it requires more of our time. However, we feel the kids share things they would not normally share, and we feel it is worth the sacrifice. It has finally thwarted at least this one staling technique. Now, how to deal with all the other techniques? I'm still working on those!
"Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or is he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:9-11