How to get a couple more productive hours by getting the kids to go to bed and stay there

If you have kids in your life, you likely have little time to keep up with your coding projects or drone upgrades (or just your favorite video game). If this precious time is interrupted regularly because you can’t get the kids to bed, or if they won’t stay there, try some of these tips recommended by the American Psychological Association.

Here are the basic steps (originally posted on Division 42’s blog, used with permission):

  • Establish a bedtime routine: bath, brush teeth, story time, a few minutes of a back rub or snuggles and then a kiss goodnight and leave.
  • Leave a nightlight on in the room if your child wants. The door can be opened or closed. New parents… remember not to try to be totally silent when you put your babies to bed. That way children learn to sleep even with noise in the background.
  • Let your child know how things are going to be. If your child cries let them cry it out. They may scream, try to come downstairs. But just return them to bed calmly.
  • Reward the positive…they can earn a small prize like a sticker for each night they go to bed without a fuss. Follow this with a slightly bigger prize for a week and then something special for two weeks of appropriate bedtime behavior.
  • Use the same principles for kids coming into your room in the middle of the night. Promptly return them to their room. It is okay to sit with them in their own room for a few minutes until they settle down. But be careful you don’t just climb into their bed and go to sleep. Sit in a chair or on the floor.
  • Use the reward system. Again…2 weeks of parents being able to do this every night and the problem is solved.

The key thing is to do this consistently and as early as you can with your kids. Once you’ve established habits and routines with them that you don’t want, it will be difficult to get them to consent to something else. You will have to tolerate protests by the children and be firm. If you aren’t, you will not be able to get those coding hours in or complete your drone upgrades!

Ian Felton has more than 20 years of professional experience writing software for organizations such as NASA, Mayo Clinic, Thomson Reuters, and many more. He is the author of The Coding Samurai : The Way of the Computer Warrior. His blog, The Coder Counselor, explores technology through the lens of psychology. Ian is also a published author of haibun, a prosemetric Japanese form of writing, mainly centered on travel and journeys to far-off places. In addition to bass guitar, writing and wildlife photography, his interests include practicing meditation, Chinese, and Chinese martial arts. Ian is completing his master’s degree in counseling and psychological services. You can connect with him on Twitter @psychcoder.

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