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Handling Behaviour at Bedtimes: A Case Study

By: Sarah Edwards - Updated: 14 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss

Bedtimes are potentially one of the most stressful times of the day for parents. Children are tired and fractious and desperately need to go to sleep, and yet they seem able to do everything in their power to resist setting one foot up the stairs.

The Twighlight Zone!

Everyone has bad days, and nights, occasionally with their children but when bedtime turns into the twilight zone, and every night is a bad night it is time to break the routine and try and manage the situation so that the outcome is positive.

Bedtimes Were a Struggle

For single parent Lesley, bedtimes had just become one big struggle and her two boys aged eight and 11 seemed determined to make things as difficult as possible for her. Lesley soon began to dread the evenings from the time the boys got home from school until they finally went to bed, because she anticipated stress and tantrums.

Working Mum + Tired Children = Stress!

She said: “Bedtimes used to be a war zone in our house, and to be honest I know lots of parents who struggle with this time of the day. It was as if the children had planned and plotted to wind me up as much as possible and they certainly did!”

Badly Organised

As a working mum, Lesley was used to having a routine, but admits that bedtimes had become a bit random. She added: “I often work from home and found that this really impacts on the kids because if I have a deadline to meet or a phone call to make or some emails to catch up with, I found I was doing this while trying to supervise homework and cook dinner. Then a friend would pop round for a drink and before I knew it I was cooking dinner for extra people and the kids were basically taking advantage of the fact that I had taken my eye off the ball.”

A Solution!

Lesley took advice from good friends and also read up on the subject. She soon found a solution to the problem.

Find a Routine

“I realised that actually the bedtime stress was MY fault! I needed to find a routine that worked for all of us and stick to it so that the children knew exactly where they stood and everyone was aware of how the evening was going to progress.”

“I implemented a new regime that was hard at first but soon became second nature to all of us and it really was the best move I could have made at the time. I now finish work when the kids get home from school, and have put an out of office notice on my email to let people know that I am not available between 3pm and 8pm. I switch my mobile to silent and screen my calls so that only the most urgent callers are dealt with.”

Important Time With the Kids

“This way I can concentrate on the kids and our routine is now as follows: Once they get home from school I organise a quick, health snack for them and let them watch TV for a while so that I can wash lunch boxes, deal with sports kits and get ready for any after school clubs that they might be going to. When all that is finished, we have a family homework session and then the kids have free time until dinner. This is also a great time for catching up with each other and sharing our news. If anyone calls in they just have to muck in and talk to me while I am doing other stuff-I have to say that they really don’t mind and sometimes having an extra pair of hands is quite useful!”

Stay Focused

Lesley realised that in order to keep her children’s bedtimes free of stress, she needed to re think their routine and stay focused during that critical time of the day.

Calmer and Easier Times Ahead

She added: “The boys are so much better now, they still have the odd moan and groan but we save later bedtimes as treats for weekends and holidays and I think they really feel that I try and spend as much time with them as possible now and that seems to make them more relaxed and easier to handle. They are not perfect but things are certainly a lot calmer in our house at bedtimes now.”

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