How I Sped Up the Nighttime Routine with My 2-1/2 Year Old

Dear Joanna and Julie,

The bedtime routine with Simon, age two-and-a-half, has been dragging out longer and longer. I’m short on patience by that time of the night. I’m writing to share my success with being playful.

I made a getting-ready-for-bed game, complete with laminated pieces. I had my dad do the illustrations: bath, PJs, brush teeth, use potty, find favorite stuffed animal, read books.

Here’s what it looks like, before we start:

We pull all the pictures off and put them in an envelope (not pictured) but they could just be in a pile somewhere, like this:

The one of the monkey in bed is showing his favorite stuffed animal  – bedtime grinds to a halt without the monkey so it must be found and placed in bed. Simon gets to determine the order of events, so long as it all gets done. I love having the pictures – it saves me saying “what do you want to do next, pajamas or brush teeth?” 500 times. He just can go and pick one out of the envelope.

He puts one picture on the board at a time after he’s completed each task. They have velcro on the back.

Simon was really into it and we got bedtime done in record time, giving us time to read a lot more books and sing a ton of lullabies! It felt great. I hope it continues to hold the same thrill for him!

Here are some close-up shots:

PS. (One day later)

It did the trick again tonight! Simon was tired from a birthday party and the battery died in our car so we got home pretty late, but he was downright filthy from being by a campfire so I didn’t want to skip bath. Thank goodness for that chart. We finished everything in 30 min that usually takes 60. I wouldn’t have attempted that two days ago. Even if it stops working eventually, it’s been worth it for the good it did today.