A New Strategy

Cameron wriggled and squirmed, calling out the open kitchen window. “Samuel! Are you going to come out to play?” Samuel answered from his back deck, “YEAH!”  Eagerly, Cameron finished his supper, which was amazing given that this was a new food introduction, every last bit of it. Pasta with grated carrot and squash, and roast beef. But he knew, the new deal involved eating all of his supper. “Now,” he asked? Not yet, he had to help me clear the table, and we had to clean him up.

Tonight we tried something new, not just what was on the plates. Instead of supper being at 8:00 after playing outside for “just half an hour,” which turns into much longer because Samuel joins us just as the time is ending,  we had supper half an hour after getting home. Early, for us! I decided that I have to find a way to get Cameron into bed earlier. I cannot possibly cut back on his outside play time when we start before Samuel comes out. Have you ever tried to get a three year old to eat his supper when all he wants to do is be outside playing? We have had some spectacular meltdowns over this. Bedtime has become 9:30 or later around here – which means one cranky and whiny little boy the next day. I clued in when two days in a row his daycare provider said that he was whiny until after his nap, and seemed tired. Duh. He needs more sleep!

So, now we will time our playing outside to be when there’s a better chance of the boys getting to play together. It’s the key to moving things earlier, I think.

I explained this to Samuel’s dad, as the boys jumped on the trampoline. He’s all for it. Time to try to coordinate – I suspect that Samuel was eating supper early, and fussing through it because he heard Cameron playing outside. This way we both get our way.

Did it work? Was Cameron in bed early? Ha ha ha ha! Not a chance. But this was more because Phil and I didn’t enforce the half-hour playtime rule we’d set down. Tomorrow night we’ll do better. Tomorrow bath and bed will happen much earlier – but this way we’ve set the first pattern, the one I thought might be the hardest to change. I thought it would be hard to convince Cameron to go inside when we got home, but it was really quite easy. I just dangled a carrot. “We’ll have supper first, Cameron. That way – hey, no whining – that way you’ll get to play with Samuel. But you have to eat all your supper first.” He led the way up the stairs.


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