Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Bedtime Bear Award

Bedtime has been difficult in this house for quite some time.  There have been nights where it literally takes us hours to get our darling 2 year old, Mr. Micah John, to bed.  He would get up out of bed over and over, cry to be cuddled, scream, holler, and just cause havoc in general.  Unfortunately, this was dragging down the sleep of his big brother, otherwise known as his bunkmate.  Poor Isaiah was left up there on the top bunk, just trying to ignore the distractions of little bro.

Anyway, if you've read my blog before, you know about the sleep trouble.  You know it extends to naptime as well.  You know this.  It was time to try something new.

After yet another frustrating go-round Sunday night, I made something up.  Right there.  Spur of the moment.  I created The Bedtime Bear Award.  I explained to the boys that whoever stayed in bed and slept like a big boy would win the award in the morning. 

Then I realized I had no idea what I was talking about.

When they were finally asleep, I turned to Google and started looking up reward charts, bedtime routines, prize ideas, and a whole bunch of other stuff.  I couldn't find a reward chart I liked, so I emailed Evan and he made one up for me that came out to be just what I had in mind.  So, here's how it breaks down.

The Chart

It tracks the bedtime behavior that I want the boys to work on.  Every time they complete that task well, they get to put a sticker in the corresponding box on their chart.  I'm charting a week at a time and if they hit 25 stickers in a week, they win The Bedtime Bear Award!  Remember, I've done this for all of a couple days, so I have no clue if this will actually work.  I may need to reduce it to 20 stickers or change that part up completely, but this is what we're trying out for now.

The Prizes

So what do they actually win?  Here's what I did to tempt my little boogers into behaving.

I evicted my black boots from their box under my bed.

I covered it in wrapping paper.  Christmas paper is all I had, so that's what I went with.  I suppose it would have been cooler to use like Spiderman wrapping paper, but I didn't have that.

Then I dug in my gift stash and did a little poking around Walgreens to find some prizes to fill the "Treasure Chest."

Berenstein Bears books I already had stashed away.

Cars - $0.89 a piece at Walgreens.

A few coloring books.  2 for $1 at Walgreens. 

The puzzles were also 2 for $1 at Walgreens.

The pencils were 4 for $1 at Walgreens, the metallic stickers were $1 each, and the CARS stickers on the left were buried in my junk drawer.

Yes, I even raided the boys' Halloween candy that they've forgotten about.  I have no shame.

Then I tossed it all in the box and wrote "TREASURE CHEST" on the top with a big Sharpie.

I showed the boys the contents of the box and explained that they would get to pick a prize out of the Treasure Chest if they won the Bedtime Bear Award for the week by filling their chart with stickers.

Now all that remains to be seen is if it actually works.  I'd like to say it magically whipped them into shape the very first night, but that's not the case.  Isaiah (the 4 year old) is all about it and even thanked God in his prayers for the Bedtime Bear Award.  Micah (2 years old....TROUBLE) did much better at the getting into bed, saying prayers, tucking in part, but still didn't go to sleep on his own.  He got up three times in the first 20 minutes and cried himself to sleep because Mommy wouldn't lay down and cuddle with him.

To help with all this, I also ordered this clock from Barnes and Noble.

It's called the Teach Me Time clock and it glows green when it's ok for the kids to get up out of bed in the morning.  My guys have been getting up at 5:30 ever since the time change and that is definitely not acceptable in my world.  I hate mornings.  Mornings are evil.

Apparently it also talks and helps them learn how to tell the time as well.  As long as it gets them to stay in bed until 7:00, it will be worth every penny of the $36 price tag.  I'll be sure to report in on the effectiveness of this little number.  I can tell you that Isaiah is stoked to get it. 

So, that's what's shaking when it comes to bedtime in our world.  It's a whole new approach that we're very new to, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it makes a world of difference. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 1/7/12:
Bedtime has improved significantly!  We used the reward chart for about 5 weeks and then kind of just forgot about it after we came back from Christmas and the boys haven't even asked about it since.  They know to clean up their toys before bed, we read books, say prayers, turn out the lights, and that's it. No more fights, no more drama. They just know they are to go to sleep.  And then they stay in bed until 7:00 am thanks to that miracle of a clock!!  At about 7:03 every morning, they run into my bedroom yelling "Cwock Gween!!!"  Love. It.  Naptime is still kind of hit or miss, to be honest, but it has definitely improved.

UPDATE 1/9/12:
The reward chart I used is now available for download!  My husband actually created it in Excel, but I took out the things specific to my kids, so it is more generic and ready to be adapted for your use.  Download yours HERE!

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