The past few days have been difficult. Last weekend, my kids’ two nannies decided to hie away from our employ. They put my daughter, three-year-old Nicki, to bed, then left six-year-old Nathan, who was watching television, packed their bags, and left. No “Thanks for having us,” no tearful goodbyes, nothing. They up and left our kids in our house, with no one else, save Nathan’s nine-year-old cousin, to watch over them. We later learned of the reason as to why they decided to leave, and, well, while I can’t publish it on my blog, it relieves me to know that both nannies did not have issues with us as their employers, with our kids as their main focus of attention, and with the nature of their jobs.
While we have two nannies arriving tomorrow – Thank You, God!! – my beautiful wife Catherine and I have taken turns staying home to be with the kids. My kids are bundles of joy, but we all know that nobody’s perfect, either parent or child. I’ve struggled a bit, but it’s always a good thing to reconnect with your children. You’ll always have work around, but you won’t always have your kids’ childhoods around, so best to enjoy it while you still can. The Bible recommends we dads don’t exasperate our kids, and I’ve been trying my best to ensure that doesn’t happen. They, on the other hand, have continued to pay attention to me, so I think I haven’t completely outgrown my role as father.
Meanwhile, I’m revisiting the book Supernanny by Jo Frost, and it’s reminding me about some solid disciplinary steps to take when my kids (occasionally) misbehave. In particular, it has some solid ideas about bedtime that I’m really interested in reestablishing. My kids, you see, can’t sleep without me. That’s a surefire recipe for disaster, so I’m going to talk to my wife about it tonight. We need our evenings back, and Jo Frost has the master plan for ensuring our evenings belong to us again.
If your child refuses to sleep, Jo Frost says the answer is “The Bedtime Routine,” which “lets your child know there is a consistent pattern to going to bed, which s/he is not going to be able to change or manipulate at will,” and 2) it prepares for sleep in a calming sequence of events that are designed to help her relax.” Sounds good, no?
Her tips include:
- Keep things as calm as possible. Winding down is important.
- Tell your child that bedtime is approaching. About ten minutes before you start the routine is good.
- Give a warm bath. Give a warning before bath begins and before it ends. Enlist the child’s help; praise the child when each stage is completed smoothly.
- Read your child a bedtime story. (I love this part!) Ask questions to engage their attention. (After the story, the child may want to talk for a while; this is a good time to reassure, praise, and single out good moments.)
- Give a few minutes’ notice before lights out.
- Don’t get into the habit of waiting with your child until she falls asleep. (Ouch, sorry.)
- Lights out! No child will learn how to get to sleep with the lights on.
- Don’t leave a stage out of this routine.
- Be consistent with your partner in this routine. Present a united front.
- Don’t let your child fall asleep on the sofa and then move him into bed. He may wake up in a panic wondering how he got there.
There are several great ideas in the book, as well as problem/solution situations. (My child can’t sleep alone. My child wakes up in the middle of the night. My child gets out of bed. My child gets into my bed. My child has nightmares. Etcetera. She has a whole bunch of solutions to these questions, and more. Get the book. It’s awesome.)