Desperate Parents at Bedtime

What have you resorted to when you’re absolutely desperate to get your child to go to bed? My oldest daughter negotiated for a graham cracker at bedtime over a year ago and somehow it started a trend of having one EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Let’s face it – all parents have experienced those last-ditch efforts to settle their kids into bed after a long day. Comedian Jim Gaffigan states it this way: bedtime frequently “becomes some hostage negotiation, but in reverse. Look, if you stay in there, I will give you whatever you want!” (start at 5:22 to hear it, but watch it all if you need a good laugh.)

Hallie Durand shows she is no stranger to those desperate attempts to get a less-than-willing child to bed. In her book Mitchell’s License, Mitchell’s father comes up with a ploy to get him to go to bed: a fake driver’s license and a vehicle to drive around the home on his way to bed each night. The catch is that Dad is the vehicle!

Mitchell’s License has an endearing and relatable plot and expressive illustrations. My family and I have laughed aloud every time we’ve read this book. I’m sure we will read it together and laugh many more times in the days to come.

Please comment to share something you have done in your desperation to get a child to bed.

Best Age: prek – 1st grade

For Parents:

  • Ask your child what he/she likes most about the bedtime routine in your home. (Haven’t started a bedtime routine or struggling to keep consistent? Check out this article from for some helpful suggestions.) Then read the book together.
  • Mitchell uses his imagination to create a cookie gas station. What kind of gas station would you like to create?
  • Review car safety: When we ride in a real car, what do we always wear? (seat belt)

For Teachers:

  • Use a large toy car and have a student volunteer help you act out some of the actions Mitchell takes the first time he gets ready to drive his “car.”
  • Mitchell got a driver’s license at the beginning of the book. Create a print-out license for your students, with a square for drawing a self-portrait and lines for information such as the age of driver, color of their car, favorite place to drive, and what kind of “gas” their car requires. Display the driver’s licenses around the classroom or on a bulletin board with a print-out of the book cover. For children who are learning to write, use a die-cut of a car or print an outline of a vehicle and have students write their names and color their cars.
  • Review car safety: When we ride in a real car, what do we always wear? (seat belt)