Monday, November 10, 2008

Princess of Stall

I really enjoy the bedtime routine. It's 45+ minutes each day that I have with E to myself. Very good bonding time for Daddy and his daughter.

But, there are days when that 45+ minutes gets stretched way too far. E is very adept at stalling with Daddy. She can easily stretch the routine to an hour and still be revved up to stay up longer. (like tonight when it took an hour to get her into bed and she stood there jumping in the crib wanting us to talk to her some more) It's a simple formula from the time we come upstairs to the time we walk out of her room and turn off the light:
  • Potty
  • Bath
  • Towel off
  • Pajamas
  • Brush teeth
  • Storytime
  • Prayers
  • Bed
E has pretty much figured out how to stretch things in each stage of the routine. And, I guess, I'm a sucker for it. Potty & bath tend to take the longest, mostly because she enjoys talking, singing, reading on the potty. That can be 15 mins alone. The bath can take 15+ mins. She used to be a real trooper washing her hair, but she really finds ways to delay it now. Inevitably, she'll get some water in her eyes, which brings about the complaint "My eyes! My eyes! Don't get it in my eyes!" And can also bring about some serious crocodile tears. And with all the toys in the bath, there's no shortage of things that can distract her. She really likes using her plastic drum as a pot/bowl to "make a meal" for Daddy. Sometimes the meal gets spilled out of the tub. One time, Daddy stupidly let her take her meal out of the tub. The meal contents were subsequently deposited on the hardwood floor in the hall. (There was most definitely yelling/crying at that event).

She'll do any sort of things to delay the pajamas -- she always gets her choice of pajamas to wear. We'll lay out the towel and have a "picnic." We would put lotion on her when she was a newborn/infant, but she's outgrown that. Now she wants a "karate chop' (shiatsu?) massage.

Brushing teeth is almost always a struggle. Mommy did very well a few weeks ago convincing E that she needed to brush the Little Einsteins or Backyardigans out of her mouth. Mommy also made it a game to "get the toothpaste first" but both tactics have grown less effective. Now Daddy just fumes as the clock approaches 45 mins and the teeth haven't been brushed, the story not read, and the prayers not said.

She picks her story, which is usually straightforward, and occasionally negotiates for a 2nd one. It's usually not too difficult to skip the 2nd story and get her in the crib, though is helps to be able to lift her high enough so that she doesn't use her little monkey toes to grip the side of the crib. (You'd need a crowbar to pry them off.) She used to be good about saying the prayers but, over the past several weeks, has taken to letting Mommy & Daddy do the work.

So what's your bedtime routine? Does your little one(s) have specific stall tactics? Any suggestions on how to expedite things without causing WWIII? Am I enabling this behavior and just need to "toughen up"?

- Rich


Elaine said...

We went through this with Connor. Each individual request (one more song, one more story, one more book, etc.) was no big deal, but together, they were getting excessive. I say, bedtime should last as long as you want it to last. If you want it to be a drawn out hour plus, go for it. If, however, you want it to be less, simply let E know how much time she has, and let her know that if she dawdles in the beginning of the routine, storytime gets cut out at the end. If bath is the problem, try removing most of the toys. My kids bathe together. I wash Helen, then Connor, and then they can ply afterwards, until Helen decides she's going to stand up and not sit down or Connor starts dumping water out of the tub. If Connor dawdles on his washing, he has less playtime. They have both gotten very good at taking care of business promptly, which is something I need in order to get them both in bed at a reasonable time.

Laurie said...

We follow similar principles as Elaine. Zoe knows about how much time she has total. If she lingers in the tub, she'll get 1 less book. Also, we take care of business before playtime. So, washing first then play in the bath. Same thing in the morning, she has to do her 4 things (brush teeth, potty, get dressed, make bed) in whatever order and for how ever long she wants, before we go downstairs and start playing.

Thrift Store Mama said...

Dude, I can't believe you let her take the meal out of the tub. I would say that's a rookie mistake but you're no rookie! I got nothing for you except that we have Esther put her pjs on BEFORE she watches her 20 min. of daily tv. That's somewhat recent though and I expect it will deteriorate soon.

AwwwTrouble said...

Thanks for the comments. I've been wondering how to deal with two at once. That should prove interesting. As for the meal, that was over a year ago, but, yeah, I can't use being a rookie as an excuse! - Rich