When you're out of ideas on what to do that's new, change up the bedtime routine, I always say.*
Or in this case, let the kids take lanterns to bed. With toys.
Remember when you were a kid and you'd pull out your flashlight after your parents put you to bed? You'd tip-toe to that spot your mom put the book you're reading, snitch it, and crawl back in bed. Sometimes you'd pull the sheet over your head and prop the flashlight on your shoulder so it'd be more comfortable to read until you fell asleep. Or finished the book. Or in my case, until my mom came back ten minutes later to take the book away again.
So tonight I let the kids take lanterns to bed with them. The kids needed a distraction because one was screaming on the top of her lungs for marshmallows (can't have that at bedtime, now can we?) and the other was playing cutely with his little ambulance and robot and wasn't in the least bit sleepy yet. So I did what all parents do: I came up with a diversion. Lanterns!
They fill up the bed with golden light orbs, little stages on which to play with your toys (or in my daughter's case, draw). It's bedtime magic. And we didn't even have to argue about how many books we were reading tonight. One was enough once I mentioned lanterns.
My daughter turned hers off within minutes and fell asleep. (That marshmallow tantrum really wore her out.) My son, on the other hand, played until 9:30. It was worth it, hearing his happy robot-EMT noises, even knowing that tomorrow he'll clamor for another night of lantern light.
* I don't always say that. But that made the phrase sound better.