Bedtime Stalling is something every toddler should master by age two. If you use my personally-tested strategies, by the end of this post, you should be able to push your bedtime a full forty-five minutes. With a little practice, you’ll be eating midnight snacks, watching horrible skits on SNL and ordering Slankets off late night infomercials in no time.
LESSON ONE: MAKE CHANGING INTO YOUR PJS AS DIFFICULT AS POSSIBLE
Run around the house at full speed. If a parent catches you, go completely limp so that you weigh 1000 lbs. If mom or dad succeeds in getting your clothes off, do not let that deter you from making a quick getaway and running around fully naked.
LESSON TWO: A SUDDEN APPRECIATION FOR DINNER
This tactic is best carried out if you have a long established behavior of “not eating”. This way, when you show a sudden interest in nourishment at exactly the same time your parents start the bedtime process, they are genuinely torn between their desire to get you into bed and their fear that you might starve to death.
LESSON THREE: YOUR TEETH CAN NEVER BE TOO CLEAN
Brush your heart out. Ask for more toothpaste. Ask to use the Dora toothbrush and then change your mind and ask for the Thomas one. Run your brush under the water for an inordinate amount of time. Decide your teeth aren’t quite clean enough and start over. You get the idea.
LESSON FOUR: HIDE YOUR BLANKIE
Establish the need for as many security items as possible. I suggest a blankie, a stuffed animal and a sippy cup. About an hour before bedtime, hide these items around the house. Precious minutes will be awarded when your parents are forced to go on their nightly security item search, knowing full well there is no way you will go to bed without them.
LESSON FIVE: BOOK NEGOTIATION
When it comes to selecting books for bedtime stories, try standing frozen in front of your bookshelf, unable to make a decision. You can also attempt to renegotiate your allotted number of books. If your parent says you can have two, ask for three. If they say three, ask for four. The important thing is to never be satisfied. Lastly, pick the longest book possible or if you are feeling extra daring, pick the book with 100 “look and see” flaps. Those things take FOREVER.
LESSON SIX: ENGAGE & AMAZE
All day, your parents have been trying in vain to talk to you, to get you to smile for the camera, to count to ten, etc. but you have ignored them. Now is your time. Put on your most devoted smile. Conjure up every word in your vocabulary and try to start an actual conversation. Sing a song. Say “I love you”. Your goal is to make it as tough as possible for your parent to walk away.
LESSON SEVEN: THE LAST CHANCE HURRAH
If your parent picks you up to place you in your crib, your stalling minutes are numbered. You can try to make a break for it— arch your back, kick your legs, protest, etc. But the way I see it, you’ve got two options— lie down and accept the inevitable or scream their name as they walk out the door.
My suggestion is not to fight it. You’ve done excellent work and there’s always room for improvement tomorrow.
Sleep tight, class!