Since discovering his new found trick of escaping the crib, it has been nearly impossible to put the kids to bed. So we decided to try a Love and Logic technique even though it sounded if-y. Last night we put the boys down after their usual bedtime routine and told them they needed to go to bed. Then we shut the door and waited to see just how long they would hold out. Before long the light was on and they were playing and laughing but we just let them do it. They had to stay in their room but beyond that it was up to them to go to sleep. The idea was to let them make the mistake of staying up too late and dealing with the consequences the next day.
At close to 11 we finally went in to check on them after hearing a crash. We walked into a disaster. It was insane! They had pulled down the plastic bins out of the closets and emptied all their clothes and all the books off their book shelves. An entire container of wipes had been pulled out one by one and strewn across the floor and it smelled like poop. (I assume it was the knocked over diaper pail because we never found poop later.) We were ready to scream but instead I said, "oh this is so sad. Little kids who make big messes have to clean up before breakfast. Oh this is sad. What a huge mess you'll have to clean up. If I were you I'd probably go to sleep because this will be a big job in the morning and if it were me id want to clean it fast so I could eat my breakfast." Breakfast is their favorite meal and the one they both eat the most of.
They went straight to bed after that and I set my alarm to wake them up early. Except I overslept! But I heard as soon as they came out of their room so I bolted out of bed and was of course met with, "I'm hungry mom. I want breakfast." To which I of course said, "oooohhh, little kids who make big messes have to clean up before breakfast." It was like pulling teeth but I made them clean it without my help except to tell them where stuff goes. John and I traded off and even ate part of breakfast (bacon) right in front of them. After an hour and a half they finally had everything picked up. I was hoping the message sank in. They were also tired and cranky so we periodically mentioned outloud to eachother, "I hate it when I go to bed too late. I get tired and cranky. People aren't fun to be around when they are cranky are they?"
So tonight we said "little kids who keep their room clean get to eat breakfast right away but kids who make big messes have to clean them before breakfast." We also threw some of our own techniques in like disabling the light switch and the door (until they fall asleep)... hehehe. They never made a single mess. They did try to play in the dark and keep eachother up. Ethan had a few meltdowns but they were asleep by 9. All in all id say it worked out pretty well. Tomorrow we are going to convert the crib to a toddler bed and try putting Ethan down first. I'm nervous because Aaron likes to join Ethan in the crib. But if we can make it a reward for Aaron to stay up then maybe it could work. My enforcable statement might be, "Older brothers who leave their little brothers alone to sleep get to stay up later." We'll see...
Here's the picture of the destruction.