Picture this: you’ve been babysitting for a couple of hours, and now it’s time to put the kids to bed…

They’ve been bickering with one another all night, and now neither of them want to go to bed. From there, it’s a full on battle royale and in order to survive, you have to constantly remind yourself that you are the adult in the situation. Between the endless “I’m not tired”’s and the constant “But I want to wait for mommy and daddy!”’s you’ve managed to wrangle the kids into their pajamas and they’re finally lying in bed. You read one story for each of them, and turn out the lights. That’s when they get you—they fool you into thinking its safe. You’ve settled onto the couch to work on some homework, and suddenly you hear the pitter-patter of little feet upstairs. From there, the “I need a glass of water”’s and “I have to go potty”’s begin. Eventually, the kids wear themselves out and fall asleep, but only after you’ve made three trips upstairs to put them back to bed and you’re at your wits end.

We’ve all been there.

Eventually, you learn how to make the evening go a little smoother. You pick up on little ways to help the kids get along with one another, and make bedtime at least somewhat more enjoyable. I’ve picked up a few babysitting tips for getting the kids to bed over the years, and I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. Before bedtime, try doing a quiet activity. Many of the kids I babysit are allowed to watch x amount of tv each evening, so I usually save that for last. Once they’re settled, remind them that it will be bedtime soon. Then, once TV time is up, I usually begin to put the children to bed, and I’ll read a story or two to help them settle.
  2. Is there some kind of stuffed animal or toy that the child is missing? Some kids sleep with stuffed animals, and they can have a hard time articulating exactly what they need (depending on their age). Try asking the child, or their older sibling if they have some item that they prefer to sleep with.
  3. Are they afraid of monsters under the bed? Bring a spray bottle (of water) and tell them it’s your very special Monster Spray. Spray a few quirts of water under the bed, in the closet, wherever the kid thinks there is a monster. Tell them that it smells so bad to monsters that they stay away all night.
  4. If they’re scared of the dark, make sure there is a nightlight. If there isn’t, then leave a light on in the hall with the door open.
  5. A lot of kids tend to get a little anxious at bedtime. They’re not used to going to bed without their parents being home, that can be stressful when you’re little. Sometimes, all they need is for you to sit on the floor near their bed until they fall asleep. It puts off your homework a little bit longer, but just think of how much more you’ll get done when you’re not being interrupted every fifteen minutes.

So, there you have it. Just a few babysitting tips for the dreaded bedtime debacle.