Get Your Kids to Bed Without a Fight – with the Shoe Fairy

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If you have little kids, then I’m sure you have experienced some of my same frustrations with bedtime. My oldest has always been so great about bedtime. It has never been a struggle and he falls right to sleep most nights. Then my twins came along. Oh boy….. We have tried so many things to get the twins to settle down quickly and to stop talking to one another. We try putting one on the couch sometimes (and put him back in bed once he’s asleep), threatening, getting mad, yelling, crying, etc. They are now 6 years old and I still struggle with bedtime. Bedtime is at 7:30pm at our house, but the twins would sometimes stay awake until 10pm. I have often said that I need Super Nanny for those two, if nothing else. Let me tell ya’ – twins are a whole different beast when it comes to discipline.

Well I’ve got to say that I think I’ve finally found something that works. It doesn’t work every single night, but it will work on occasion, which is a lot more than I could ever say before. Any night of easy “going to bed”,  is a blessing. The first night that I did the Shoe Fairy, I was floored because I had never seen the twins go to sleep so quickly and quietly.

My mom came home from visiting one of my brothers and his family, and informed me of something that they do when they have babysitters – the Shoe Fairy. I decided to try it on random nights, even if we aren’t having a babysitter. Here is what you do:

As it is time to wind down and get ready for bed, I tell my kids to “get your business done”. “Business” may include: brushing teeth, getting a drink of water, saying prayers, reading a story, giving hugs and kisses, etc. My kids LOVE when I ask them if their business is done. Once everyone’s business is complete, we have to make sure that everyone’s shoes are placed neatly outside their bedroom door. Then they have to climb into their beds. Once I turn the light off, heads have to be on pillows and they have to be quiet. They can possibly whisper (that’s up to you), for a short time, but their volume cannot be as such that I have to come in to get upset or give reminders.

Because business is complete, there is no need for warnings or reminders. If I ever have to go in to tell the kids to quiet down, or to get back in bed, then shoes will go back into their room, and the shoe fairy will not be visiting that night.

If everyone has settled down well and I don’t have to go in after the light is off, then the shoe fairy will make a visit. This means that a piece of candy or some kind of special treat will get put in one of everyone’s empty shoes. I have used McDonald’s coupons for free cones, a tootsie roll or something small, or even a handwritten note that says one-on-one time with mom or dad. Time with mom or dad to play whatever they want has been a well received treat because with 4 kids, they don’t each get me to play with by themselves very much.

To keep some of the novelty, we try not to do the shoe fairy every night. I tell the kids that it will be a surprise when the Shoe Fairy decides to make a visit. They just never know and it keeps them guessing.

I would love to hear if you give this a try. Please share any successes or trials you have with bedtime and the shoe fairy when you try it!

About the author

Emily Buys


  • Cute idea – I will have to remember this for when my kiddo gets big enough to complain about going to bed 🙂

  • Dear Emily,
    Thank you so much for the shoe fairy idea. My husband and I were in desperate need of help after our two girls, ages 4 & 6, had difficulty falling asleep in their own beds without us lying down with them until they fell asleep. We tried all different things to help make bedtime go well, such as checking in on them every 5 minutes, and all our attempts were unsuccessful to say the least! After several nights of my girls screaming as they refused to go to bed, I searched for help and found you and your shoe fairy idea. Well, it has now been three nights since the shoe fairy entered our life’s, and three nights now with out the bedtime tantrums!! Thank you soooooo much for passing along your idea!!!!!!!!!

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