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Worst Incentive Ever

I’ve conducted some highly scientific studies using my own observations and creativity as the basis, and I’ve come up with this elaborate and highly accurate graph. The data proves my theory that children are very loud all the time and slow when it comes to doing something important or time-sensitive. They are fast when there is absolutely no need to be. Teenagers are generally slow and quiet except when they’re loud and fast; and adults tend to be generally quiet, fast in time-sensitive situations, and slow when time is not an issue.

These findings corroborate my hypothesis that my children are very loud and slow when it’s time for bed. They are loud and fast most other times. So I’ve been trying to work on a safe and effective strategy for increasing their speed in the proper direction around 7pm. I think I’ve stumbled upon a winning solution, although now that I’ve typed it out it will stop working completely so as to make me appear a liar in the eyes of the internet public. So be it. It’s been working amazingly well for the past several nights and I must share.

The first step in the process is to come up with a not-repulsive incentive. In our case, the incentive is to be allowed to choose the first bedtime story.

The next step is to pit the children against each other by saying, “Whoever gets upstairs, goes potty, brushes their teeth, gets their pajamas on, and is completely ready for bed first gets to pick the first story.”

The third and most important step is to catch them off guard, thusly preventing them from having enough time to figure out that what I’m really saying is, “Whoever does the first few steps of bedtime first gets the next step of bedtime first also, thus being thrown into the evil den of bedtime even faster.”

Each night I catch them right in the middle of some super fun activity and call out in my most excited cheerleader-ish voice, “OKAY! Whoever gets upstairs and gets completely ready for bed first gets to pick the first story! Who’s gonna win?! GO GO GO!” Sometimes I accompany this with flapping arms and fake running motions in the direction of the stairs. Without fail they drop whatever it is they’re doing and run like the dickens up to the bathroom to be the lucky winner.

For months I struggled trying to get them to wrap up their activities and head upstairs. No more. All it took to get them moving was a little scientific research, the worst incentive ever, and the element of surprise. Try it. You’ll like it. Unless your kids are a whole lot smarter than mine. In that case, good luck!


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