In a few words: bedtime can be frustrating. Luckily, I’ve managed to come up with a few ninja moves which have proven effective and manage to slyly deliver my boy to bed and under the covers in record time.

Ninja move #1: The walk and talk move

As he launches into some silly story or a verbose explanation about the construction of hovercrafts and their unique propellers, I turn to him and say, “Tell me more as we’re walking upstairs.”

This gets the little legs moving but still allows him to chat away. (Note: this move can also be used effectively when dressing, undressing, and re-dressing in pajamas.)

Ninja move #2: Code words

My son and I have come up with some code words that mean: Mama is serious. Dead serious. Time to cut this shit and get serious, too. Our code words are “chocolate chip.” The word “chocolate” gets his attention every time. “Chocolate chip” adds to the length of it and grabs him even more. When I say, “Chocolate chip,” he knows I’m fed up. Time to knock it off and get serious. It’s also a lot more fun than saying, “Time for teeth – no really, time to do your teeth. No. Really. Time. For. Teeth.”

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Ninja move #3: The invocation of competition and lovies

My son can be very competitive, and I must confess that I’m willing to use it to my advantage when necessary. Suddenly, him racing to my bedroom turns into me saying, “I bet I can get to your bedroom faster than you! Oh, those babas (his word for blankets) are gonna feel so cozy. All for me!”

Really I’ve stacked two moves together, the first is how I’m going to win and the second is that I’ve involved some of his beloved objects.

Ninjas move #4: One-upping the one-upper.

This is the mother of all ninja mama moves for bedtime silliness. It works when I realize that all serious talk is ineffective. I generally find I prefer not to issue threats (when I’m tired, the threats get big), so this move has become golden. When I say, “Take off your pajamas,” and his response is to mimic this with, “Pake opp py papamas?” I realize that the game is on. I respond, “Zake ozz zer zalama bama bozamas.” I take his words, make them sillier, and even add to them. This is key. This move not only one-ups the game but short-circuits his silliness capacity for an inkling of a second. During this move, I might add, “Zow your zeeth.”

Sometimes this move is so crazy-effective that he doesn’t know what the hell I’m talking about. “Zeeth” is an easy one, but I’ve been known to throw in some humdingers, just to get him asking questions. Sure, it’s a power move, but at the end of the day, I’m tired. If I can break the cycle, then we all get to bed earlier.

There you have it. Getting my child to walk and talk at the same time, code words, invoking his weakness for competition and his love of lovies, and one-upping his silliness levels with my own sly wit.

What are your ninja moves for getting your child to bed?