Getting Kids to Bed Earlier with the Shoe Fairy


Getting Kids to Bed Earlier with the Shoe Fairy

As we get back into the routine of school, earlier bedtimes, and possibly ornery children, bedtime might be a frustration. I wanted to share a post I did back in January that may give you a little help in getting kids to bed earlier with the Shoe Fairy. With the new school year, a new bedtime routine may be in order – to help with a smooth transition.

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


  • What a great idea! I am going to share this with our readers. Many nannies have employers who have trouble getting the kids to bed at night or even naptime! This would be great for naptime too!

  • I love this idea and see a possible need for this in the future!!! We finally moved our 7yo daughter’s bed into our room after my having to sleep on the couch for close to 2 years because she just could not sleep in a room alone. It was one of the best decisions we have made in a while!!! She will go to bed in “our” room on her own knowing we will be in eventually. But since we have been pretty lenient (sp?) with bed time over the summer I love having ideas like this in my back pocket for backup. Thank you for sharing!!!!!

  • Sounds like a wonderful idea indeed!

    Though my kids are well into their teens now, but I wish I had known something like this way back then. 🙂

    My elder one was never a trouble, just as you mentioned. But when the younger one came along, I had matched up their sleep and wake up time together, though it took sometime. Once their ‘business’ was over, I would read them a story till they felt sleepy, which never really took long. Or perhaps they were trained to sleep at a particular time, which they followed up well on their own later.

    Both my kids somehow used to get up and sleep at the same time, which made things easier for me. However, it’s not possible with 4 kids, just as you mentioned, and twins on top of that!!

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • I love this idea! I have twin girls and they think they are at a constant sleepover! Bedtime is one of my most hated jobs of the day because of how long it takes to settle them down. I can’t wait to try this on them- thanks for the help!!!

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