Getting kids to sleep at a reasonable hour when school starts can be impossible. Try this trick that worked for us.

Why I Put My Kids in the Closet and How it Fixed Their Morning Routine

Our kids had a pretty cool summer. While we didn’t do a whole lot of expensive things, they enjoyed staying up late and sleeping in until well past noon. They had zero morning routine!

Getting kids to sleep at a reasonable hour when school starts can be impossible. Try this trick that worked for us.

Problem: Morning Routine

A week before school started, we tried to rein in their bedtimes, a little at a time, in the hopes that they would be ready for school, bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Nope. Not even close.

Not only would they not wake up in the mornings, or anything close to “morning,” they wouldn’t go to sleep no matter how much we begged, yelled, and negotiated. Their sleep clock was so upside down that they were waking up in time for dinner, and watched TV until the wee hours. Sleeping in WAS their morning routine.

My sleep schedule and my attitude were in tatters, my mental health very fragile, and I put my foot down.

Night 1

We called a family meeting the day before school and told the kids that tonight’s bedtime would be different. They would be bunking in our room!

But what about TV? What if we can’t sleep? She touches me? What about the dogs?

They had lots of questions, and I had one answer. I. Don’t. Care.

They had a tough time going to sleep that night, and were up until nearly 3. We have a pretty big closet, they had put a pallet made of comforters down, and were plenty comfy. They just kept arguing, and arguing, and arguing.

We finally put on an old baseball game that nobody cared about, and they finally fell asleep. Thank you, boring cable channel!

They woke up 3.5 hours later, dragging it and whiny. Getting them up and dressed was a nearly impossible task, and I won’t deny raised voices. However, only one kid fell asleep in class. Pretty good, I thought. Sad, I know.

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Night 2

The hardest part of night 2 was making them stay awake before dinner! They were so tired, but I knew if I let them take a nap, there would be no sleep at night.

At bedtime we did the same thing, back in the closet with the lot of them. It was better, though. Less arguing, with us and with each other, and they actually fell asleep in by 10. The next day, it was still difficult to get everyone up and dressed on time, but it was much less stressful for everyone and a little closer to a normal morning routine.

Day 2 of school was a success and everyone stayed awake the whole day. That night, a couple slipped a little and didn’t fall asleep until 12, and 1 couldn’t stay awake through class.

Yes, I made them sleep in the closet again. They finally started getting the hang of bedtime again, and I only had to make them sleep in there for 4 nights. That little stint in our closet fixed their morning routine. They don’t like going to bed early, and they like waking up early even less.

But that’s the way the school year works. Kids need sleep to help their little brains learn. I’ve given up the pipe dream of “normal bedtimes,” as much as I wish it worked in our home.

Parenting is hard, picking battles is hard. This one is important.

Most of the parenting books tell you to set a schedule, create a routine, be consistent. Do you know how impossible that is with 4 chaotic kids in varying ages?

What are your bedtime tricks for big families? What works in your house?

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