Before I dive into this topic, I need to give a disclaimer…
Bedtime is not perfect here, and every time I add a new little person to the mix, it changes things.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way…
Bedtime is often a difficult part of the parenting day. We’ve been busy all day long, and we just want them to go to sleep so we can take a break. Some children really like their sleep, and bedtime is rarely a struggle, but then you have kiddos like my Creed (age 3) who NEVER wants to go to sleep…EVER. For 3 years, we’ve been struggling through bedtime with him. So, hear me when I say, creating a bedtime routine will not solve all your problems, but it will make the evening predictable…and predictable is good.
Let me give you a little background on bedtime around here. I have bigs, middles, and littles. The baby sleeps in the girls room, and goes to bed at 8pm. The 3 little boys (ages 3, 5, 7) also go to bed at 8pm in the boys’ room (all 5 of the boys sleep in this room as it is the largest one in the house). Often, putting them to bed resembles putting a lid on a can of worms…loud, fussy, constantly trying-to-get-out worms.
Because I have so many different ages in the house, I decided I needed an evening routine that was super simple. I also needed to address all of the “excuses” the little boys managed to come up when trying to get out of bed – namely needing a drink and needing to go to the bathroom.
This is still a work in progress, but here’s the summary of what I “want” our evenings to look like…
All electronic devices off by 7:15 pm. (screens are a stimulant and can contribute to wakefulness)
Little ones changed and teeth brushed. (each of the littles have a tooth brushing partner)
Slow down time. (they can listen to audios, read, or play quietly – eventually, I plan to have our family worship time back in this time slot)
Drinks and bathroom time. (small drink!)
Prayers and bed. (if they had a good night before, they get to have one of the girls tell them a story as they lie in bed)
Now, here’s the part that handles the crazy 3 year old who never wants to go to bed…
Someone patrols the hall to keep the peace.
Yep, that’s right…one of us has to patrol the hall to make sure no one escapes or makes too much noise. We’ve never had to do this before, but with this little guy, he’d be up until midnight if we didn’t. And yes, we all wish these boys would just go to bed without all the extra-ness, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
So, how do you create your own evening routine that creates some predictability and order to what can easily become chaos? You keep it super simple and address your biggest trouble spots!
- Set a time for bed and work backward.
- Remove as many distractions as you can.
- Consider the trouble areas, and look for solutions that put you ahead of the game.
- Stay consistent, knowing this all takes time…lots of time.
For us, 8 pm was a good time for the littles to go to bed. I knew I did not want a long, drawn out bedtime, so I gave myself 45 minutes start to finish. I wanted the screens to be off in time to settle their little brains. Sometimes we don’t get this accomplished, and there is a definite difference. Our trouble areas were excuses to get out of bed, so I made those excuses part of the bedtime routine. I also put the safeguard of a hall patrol in place so that we could nip problems in the bud. We have been doing this same routine for a long time…and we still have to patrol, we still have to shush the worms, and we still have to force the 3 year old into bed nearly every night because he hates to stop moving. But, we just keep doing it. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it does work. That’s what you need to remember. Nothing is perfect, including your children. Including you. You can implement systems that help, but remember the human factor in all of this, and never forget to implement enough grace and mercy to cover everyone involved.
So, what does your child’s evening routine look like? Where do you need help? What has been the biggest struggle? Raising Arrows readers love to comment and help others, so share away!
Need a little more help with everyone’s evening routine?
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