Thursday, September 22, 2011

Adapting routines

Sleep or shall I say the way little boys go to sleep around here was slowly becoming a battlefield. It seems we cycle through easy phases and challenging ones with sleep. Elliott was moving back into a challenging one – getting up to go potty, needing to say good night to Daddy since he forgot, coming to see what was happening or tell us one last thing. And since Mike and I are overtired and just ready to work on our own tasks without constant interruption, this is enough to drive us batty and make us quite angry. Which, I always need to remind myself, does not solve the problem. Since I was reading a Love and Logic book, on recommendation from Elliott’s Montessori school, I decided to try a different approach, a gentler approach, seeing as how getting angry was not helping Elliott relax into sleep. (Hm. Wonder why?)

In looking over my old documents, I found a chart I made way back when, at another challenging sleep period. Yes, I type nearly everything and save it all, just in case! I also found a morning chart called The Morning High Five, which I had downloaded and considered using a while ago. Combining both of these for the past two days has really seemed helpful to get Elliott back on track and hopefully over the bumpy patch.

In the morning, Elliott simply works his way through the five simple things written and illustrated on the chart that are his responsibility. Since he wakes up in the morning in his room and his clothing is there, we hung the chart on his bedroom door. Our list included: eat breakfast (which to him also means clear his plates), make bed, get dressed (which also means clean up pajamas), brush teeth, and put away toys. Elliott interpreted it to mean he needs to complete steps 1 through 4 so he can actually get out toys to play with. That also works just fine for our mornings. Once all are done and we are headed out the door to school, we review the list and, you guessed it, give a high five. Sounds corny, but I think it will help as the past two mornings have felt a bit smoother.

Moning High Five chart, with no need to cross things off

In the evenings, Elliott was well aware of the general routine as it has been the same for some time. But having a check list makes it crystal clear without verbal reminders from me. I could hear him tonight telling himself that next he needed to go have his last potty chance. But, different from last time when we used the night time chart, I explained that if he said his last good night and remained in bed to get his rest, the next evening he would be well rested to stay up for five extra minutes of story time. On the nights he felt compelled to act silly or pop out of bed, he would not have the rest he needed and would need to go to bed early, thus shorter story time the next evening. This chart we posted on our bedroom door since Elliott falls asleep in our room. Little brother does his best to keep big brother awake at night so we felt it was best to keep them seperate as they fell asleep.

Bedtime chart, missing tonight's marks and with Elliott's accidental 'X' thru the cup

For the past two nights, not a peep has been heard from Elliott after last big hugs and kisses and the door closes. Now, Oliver on the other hand… That is a problem for another day. Perhaps I will have to pull out that bedtime book we made once upon a time for big brother at this age…

Here is a link to Morning High Five and I have posted my chart below, if it can be of any service to you, if you are suffering through any morning or bedtime troubles we are (were!) going through.

* Unfortunately, since making the chart customized to each family means moving images and words in this chart, I do not have something like that on here, only this picture you can print. But it was easy to create - just finding fun images online and making a basic chart. If I recall Elliott may have helped the first time with that very task. Or write the list and draw the pictures together with your child.


  1. I love the morning high five chart-what a great idea! How are you liking Love & Logic? It is one of my favorite approaches (not that I'm very good at using it). It might be time for me to dig out my copy and do a review lesson...

  2. I have the same problem. In the dead of night reading, I am inspired. Putting it to action is the trouble. But the bit we have done seems to make an impact. I am not quite so vocal with an Uh-oh song, but having a phrase to turn to "This is so sad" actually gives me something to say instead of giving way to the feeling of wanting to explode. And now, I remember you telling me about the energy drain :) Ha!