Bedtime Standard Operating Procedure

Abraham, who is three, has been having a really hard time going to sleep the last few weeks. We have been spending our entire evenings trying to get him to stay in bad. This is not fun.

We have learned that Abraham needs routine. He also needs to know what the routine is. The calendar Beth made for him is a great example of this. It lets him know what is going on that day in a simple visual way. We have had bedtime routines for him before, but his needs have changed, and we have not been very consistent.

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Today, we made a new bedtime routine. Beth and I talked through what we thought would work well for Abraham and the rest of the family, then we included him in making some decisions, and writing out what we would do each night. We drew pictures for each step and talked through them. Once it was all written out Abraham decided where we were going to hang it up so he could see it at bedtime.

 

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It’s pretty fun to see him understand and buy into a new way of doing things. When it was time for bed we read through the list then got started. He was actually telling us what came next without to much input from us. Bedtime was better tonight, it still took a long time and a few tears, and included this conversation:

Abraham crying: You’re my friend and I love you so much, I want you to lay with me!!!!!!!

Me: I am your friend, and I love you too, but I’m not going to lay with you, you can go to sleep by yourself.

Abraham yelling: I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me, I want you to lay with me!!!!!!!!

But, we are on the right path toward not having to spend 2 hours every night getting him to bed, so win!

There are two tools that we are applying here. First, visual management, second standard operating procedure.

Visual management aims to make the situation easily understood merely by looking at it (think silverware holders that are shaped like spoons, forks, and knives). While standard operating procedures are a set of written instructions that document a routine activity that is to be followed by members of an organization (think recipes).

Visual management is really great for a three-year-old because he can’t read. Information has to be simple to understand at a glance for him. But we all need this. We are inundated with information all the time. The more we can do to make it simple to grasp the critical parts of a situation the more effective we can be in responding.

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Standard operating procedures are great because they get us all on the same page, and establish consistent ways of doing things. It is possible to over structure and over standardize, but I do think that there is value in common routine which can make space for creativity and spontaneity.

I would love it if everything in our house was so simple to understand that Abraham could do it. Where do the toys go? Where do the dishes go? How do we start our day and end our day? What are we doing this week? Those are all things that can be made simple, which will help our entire family have the margin to do the really important things like loving each other and being friends.

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