By Susan S. Russo

Cover of "Goodnight Moon"

Cover of Goodnight Moon

How many times can one read “Goodnight Moon”, “Brown Bear” or “The Cat in the Hat”?

If you are a parent you know that the answer is probably close to a “gazillion”. When my four were tiny I resorted to reading all of their favorites using different accents…….Reading a la Fran Drescher ( from the TV show, The Nanny) was one of my favorite accents and probably amused me more than it did the children.

And then, of course, we made up stories. I would say a few sentences to start, and then the (not so sleepy) child would be responsible for the next few parts of the story. …and so on and so forth, till one of us fell asleep! That strategy was a big hit because it gave them ownership of the bed-time story.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, children ages 3-12 need between 10 and 13 hours of sleep each night. YIKES!

But as every parent knows, getting the kids to go to bed—and stay there, can be challenging and oftentimes frustrating. I recently read an article in which parents shared their favorite strategies for bedtime, which I’d like to share with you:

Counting Cars: Put three toy cars on the dresser at lights-out. Each time the parent has to make a visit, the parent removes a car. No cars left? No visits left. If all three cars are still there in the morning, an extra book is read at bedtime that night!

Have a “Tuck-in” routine: Tell the children that you are going to give them an extra special tuck-in, and they have to be careful NOT to mess it up. Then, smooth their blankets flat, tuck them in tight. Most of the time, they will lie still and drift right off to sleep!

Personalize a Nighttime Tale: The parent will recall a memory from when the child was younger, then, turn it into a 5-minute story. Children love to hear about themselves when they were younger!

Bedtime Bucks: Use a chart to help children get ready for bed. Every time they complete a task, like putting on their pj’s or brushing their teeth, they get a stamp on the chart. If they complete their tasks and go to bed, they earn BEDTIME BUCKS, which they can put toward going to the park, a restaurant, movies, and so on.

And of course, my all-time favorite…..

Dance to Bed: Dance, twirl, swing, gallop, hop and skip….from your bedroom into the child’s bedroom, and into bed. Just make sure that the dance steps and the music isn’t too wild and excitable!

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