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Mom’s Tips to Babysitters: How to Put Kids to Bed with Minimum Fuss

As Moms, we know that some kids go to bed easily.  They do what you ask them to do in a timely and compliant manner.  Oh, but then there are those kids who beg for five more minutes of play time or drag out the bedtime ritual . . . and the kids who lay in bed and wail in the hopes that you will come and rescue them from their beds.  Here are tips you can give your babysitter on how to get your kids to go to bed with minimum fuss.

  • The five-more-minutes kids and the dragging-out-bedtime-rituals kids: these kids either thoroughly enjoy whatever they are doing at the time or they just don’t like bedtime. Either way, you have tasked the babysitter with putting the kids to bed on time, and the babysitter must do so. Usually, babysitters have enough knowledge of the kids in their care to know what may be driving their behaviors . . . babysitters can thus find a motivator that will incent them to go to bed without further fuss. For example, if the kids hate missing out on social interaction, the babysitter can offer to lay down with them until they are asleep.
  • The lay-in-bed-and-wail kids: these kids have learned that crying loudly (and often exaggeratedly) will get adults to do what they want. This can be a tricky situation for a babysitter. If the babysitter ignores the manipulative behavior, will you perceive his/her choice to be neglectful or cold? If the babysitter capitulates to the manipulative behavior (because, presumably, that’s what you have historically done), then will the babysitter further reinforce the manipulative behavior? It’s best to visit with the babysitter to clarify how you want him/her to respond to this situation.
  • Don’t stimulate the kids right before you want them to be winding down. Letting the kids have a sugary snack about a half hour before bedtime is just asking for trouble. So is starting a conversation that you know will get them wound up (either happy or upset), performing some very physical activity, and scaring the kids (hiding behind doorways and jumping out suddenly while shouting “boo” is always entertaining for the adults who are jumping and shouting, but it is seldom viewed with similar enthusiasm by the kids who are jumped and shouted at.) J
  • Determine what lulls the kids. Lulling things can include soft music or absolute silence, complete darkness or dim light, comforting scents (e.g., your usual perfume), and rocking or a back rub. About 45 minutes before bedtime, the babysitter should get the kids ready for bed (teeth brushed, jammies on, etc.). Then, for the 30 minutes before bedtime, use the lulling techniques to induce drowsiness before the kids ever get tucked in bed.
  • Other good bedtime habits include quietly reading a good book in bed for a pre-determined period of time before “lights-out”, sitting quietly near the kids’ beds and having them softly tell the babysitter about what they liked most about their day, saying bedtime prayers together, and having the kids remain silent for a moment of reflection on all the things the kids are grateful for (i.e., loving parents, goofy siblings, good food, a nice house, fun toys, etc.).

By following these tips, your babysitter can put kids to bed with minimum fuss.

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