Bedtime Babysitting Blues
How to get a Child to go to Bed and Stay in Bed
Bedtime Tips for the Bedtime Blues
The bedtime tips in this article are helpful for both parents and baby sitters. Most children aren’t crazy about the idea of going to bed at night. Some will go willingly, but many times the sitter (and parents too) will have to endure some type of protest.
The protest might consist of reasons why the child “can’t” or “shouldn’t” go to bed. Children get very creative with these reasons. If the excuse is “I can’t sleep,” tell the child that you understand that she might not be feeling tired. But then explain that it’s still bedtime so she has to stay in her bed. If you let the child stay up, you can guarantee that the child will say the same thing the next night or next time you babysit.
Maybe the child will disguise the protest by claiming to be hungry and asking for a snack. This is the “stalling method.” A child using this technique may also “remember” that he was supposed to take a shower or bath before bed. And then, there’s always the “I can’t find my blankie (or other security object),” complaint. This one often leads to staying up for between two minutes and as long as it takes to find the item. The search could take hours.
Basic Bedtime Tips for getting a child off to bed without a hassle:
- Bedtime is bedtime no matter what the excuse. Send the child back to bed with gentle words.
- Stick to the scheduled bedtime and routine as best you can.
- If the child has a security item that she absolutely must have to get to sleep, leave it in the child’s bed. If you are the babysitter, find the item as soon as you get to your client’s home. Put it in the child’s bed or in another safe place. Then at bedtime there’s no need for a search.
- If your children or the children you are babysitting ordinarily have a snack sometime between after dinner and bedtime, then announce snack time a half hour to forty-five minutes before bed. This should give the kids plenty of time to pick a snack, eat it, and be cleaned up by bedtime.
- Give a couple of warnings that it is nearing time to go to sleep. For example, give a warning fifteen minutes before and then five minutes before bed.
- If the child claims he is afraid of the dark because he thinks there are monsters under his bed or in his closet, try this. Take a squirt bottle, fill it with water, and make a label for it that says something like “Anti-monster spray.” Give a light squirt of it under the child’s bed and in the closet to kill any potential “monsters.” Be sure to spray quickly and lightly so nothing actually gets “wet” and so that if something gets slightly damp, it will dry quickly.
- Ask parents before they leave if any of the children need to be bathed or take a shower.
- Some parents don’t agree with the “anti-monster spray.” They feel that you are then reinforcing the child’s belief that monsters actually exist. If this is the case with your client, you can reassure the child that there is no such thing as monsters. Tell him that you will allow him to leave his light on for fifteen minutes if he stays in his bed and goes right to sleep.
Always be consistent and always follow through, never “give in,” and always just escort the child back to bed calmly and your bedtime blues will disappear!!!
For more babysitting tips and tricks, check out our babysitting tips page!