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― C. S. Lewis


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Tuesday, May 22, 2012


One of my readers wrote to me tonight and asked about bedtime.  How do you get somebody to go to bed who isn't used to being told to go to bed, or doesn't want to?  (paraphrase)

Many of us have adopted older children who not only have extreme trauma backgrounds, but also lived in orphanages where the rules were rather lax.  They didn't grow up in functional families, obviously, so it is VERY NEW to them to be told, "It is time for bed!"

Sometimes their reactions are negative.  "I don't want to?"  or "Why do I have to?" 

Establishing routines is VERY important for ALL kids, adopted or not.
Communication skills are usually VERY POOR when our kids come home, especially international kids. The communication issue is HUGE.  They may not understand what is expected, or they may complain in a way that seems more rebellious than it is.  "NO! I won't go to bed!"  My not be what they are actually trying to say.  They may be saying, "I don't want to."  Or , "Do I have to?"  But with limited English skills, and the "halted" Russian or Eastern European Accent, it can seem like they are saying "NO! I WILL NOT!"  LOL..... I remember Erika sounding that way all the time when she was first home. 

Alli came home at 11.  We simply went back to our old bedtime routine that we had when each of the girls was newly home. (newly, meaning the first YEAR) 
We started the bedtime ritual of teeth brushing, baths, pj's. and then we went into the room and read a good story.  The kids LOVE stories, even big kids. :)   This way, we weren't saying "Go to bed!"  Instead they were already ON their beds, intently listening to a good story.  We would finish, pray with them and tuck them into bed, without them realizing what was happening. "Hey, I'm in bed and ...... yawn... I am kinda tired.... zzzzzzzz." :)

As the kids become more comfortable and assimilate into family life, bedtime routine can be less intense for us.  We don't always HAVE to read a story. Sometimes we put on a "Story CD".... and just kiss everybody good night. 
Once the routine of bedtime is established, it works like clockwork. :)


Milena said...

Sounds good. Sometimes that particular pattern works for us too and then it's really nice. But what to do when they realize that teeth brushing and bath means bedtime is soon, and make it take forever, or refuses to start the ritual....? Or comes out of the bedroom too many times with all kinds of excuses (thirsty, headache, need to pee....)
i know I'm being a bit negative, but sometimes I long so much for the time when all children are in bed that an extra half an hour seems like eternity :-)

:)De said...

Milena, I know what you mean about something working sometime and not others. I too really, really like my quiet time at the end of the day, so I had to change my language from, "It's bedtime!" to "It's time for the house to be quiet" and "It's Momma's time."

I sometimes have to "charge" for my time after certain hours, so I am willing to give some of my quiet time in the evenings, but that person has to be willing to give me some of their free time the next day, say some of their screen time for a project I may have going on around the house. I talk about needing to have my "tank" filled so that I can be a good Mommy/teacher/provider for everyone in the home. Just some thoughts.


Sarah The Dreamer said...

Milena, I know what you mean about when kids get up...... I like De's idea! :)

When our boys were little, we had one that would get up 10x's a night.... He was so hyperactive! But I also needed time alone to wind down before bed.
I wound up buying 2 baby gates and putting them one on top of the other at his doorway. His door stayed open with a little light. I told him he could play quietly and it worked so well. He would be very quiet and then would fall asleep reading books. (he still does) :)

Our girls are older now, but sometimes young emotionally. Filling up their love cup before bedtime is needed. Sometimes they get back up, for another hug and we just give it to them. But for the most part, we used story tapes from the library and they don't want to miss the story, so they stay in bed. :)

Christie M said...

oops! That was Christie, not Sarah.

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