Problem solving skills are useful for a variety of reasons and can be brought out in any situation. If bedtime isn’t working for you, your spouse, your children or your neighbor upstairs, then bring out your problem solving skills!
First: what are the steps to problem solving?
- Name the problem
- Come up with some solutions
- Try those solutions
- If they worked, you’re all good- if they didn’t work, go back to number 2
OK, so, what’s the problem?
The kids whine and keep asking for things and bedtime takes forever? Or, they go to bed just fine but an hour or two later, they are up and in our bed and won’t fall asleep? Or, I have to lay with them for hours and hours thinking about all the work I need to do? Or just before bed they start jumping and yelling and playing and throwing things?
Let’s pick one:
The problem is that bedtime takes forever.
We start the bedtime routine at 7 and the kids are finally asleep at 9 or 10 at night.
So now let’s go to step 2: find some solutions.
First talk with your partner to see what ideas you each have and what each person is comfortable doing and then take the problem to the whole family. If you have kids over a year or a year and a half, they can participate. If they are younger than that, then they can’t give input but they can still hear the verdict. An infant who is told what their bedtime routine is does better than one who has no idea. True story.
So, the whole family is sitting around the dinner table, and you say, “We have a problem. Bedtime isn’t working. We need to come up with some ideas to make bedtime more enjoyable for everyone.” Then start asking for some ideas. No idea is a bad idea. One idea is to move bedtime to 9 or 10 pm since I met with one sleep expert who gave out that idea and it works for some people. Another idea is to move bedtime to 6:30 since many children get over-tired and become hyperactive just to stay awake and then they have difficultly falling asleep. This also works well for many families. Ask your children what they think. Would a picture schedule help? Would cutting out chocolate help? Let’s try it. What do you think about having a timer during bath time so it doesn’t go on forever? Maybe we could all lay together in one bed and then one child switches to their own bed so that I don’t spend two hours laying in each bed every night. Idea after idea after idea.
Then try the ideas. Not too many changes all at once. Depending on the age of your children, you can choose one or two changes and try those for a couple weeks up to a month before revisiting and seeing if the new idea works.
If it works, then great! If it doesn’t work, that’s OK- back to the problem solving table!
You don’t have to be stuck in the spot that you are in. Changes can happen and although there might be some tears with the changes, you can be there to support your children through the different routine.
Finally, set up a plan for when things don’t go the way they should.
Let’s say that you talk with your family and you make a picture schedule with dinner, bath, pajamas, brush teeth, story and bed. Then make a plan for what happens when we get off-track. Listen to ideas from your children. Then add in your own idea of losing one of the stories. “We don’t have enough time to read a book since we had a big problem when it was time to put on pajamas”. Or maybe you have another idea when things aren’t going well. At any rate, have a consequence for that boundary so that you can all stay on track for a reasonable bedtime.
It may take a couple of weeks for the changes to show up so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see anything right away but know that a more peaceful bedtime routine is just around the corner!