Our Bedtime Routine is our weakest link. It's like we hit our wall (Shane and I) and we are tired and done. The kids go to bed at 8:00pm. Somewhere between 7:30 and 8:00pm the house gets chaotic. The tone goes from fun to drill sargent mode. It is not a peaceful, orderly process. It feels hurried and the tone is not one filled with grace, joy and peace.
I got to thinking about 4 weeks ago when I sat the boys down on the couch before we went to the Post Office and Grocery Store. I laid out the expectations very clearly before we even left the house. We will park by the buggy corral. The baby will sit in the buggy with me. Each big boy will hold onto the sides of the buggy while we walk through the parking lot. No asking for extra things, running or talking loudly. Before we got out of the car I reminded them very clearly and simply of what I expected. They knew the expectation and they knew the consequence if they did not obey. It went really well. It was clear cut and they understood what was expected and what would happen if they chose not to obey.
Back to bedtime. Part of our breakdown occurs while we are in the room, actually tucking them in. Their room is not conducive to chatting and talking freely and yet we've been learning bedtime is a time of day when they open up the windows to their little hearts and let you in. With kids in bunk beds and us not having giraffe necks that can crane up to talk easily we changed things up a little.
Here's how the old way went down. 7:50. Boys, go pee-pee, brush your teeth, put your pj's on. 7:59 LET'S GO, GET IN BED!!!! It's time and we are done!!! (the underlying attitude behind our voices)
It was too rushed. Too hurried. More times than not I did not like the way our day ended. It ended with hugs and kisses but it was hurried.
We tweaked it a little. We are timing how long it takes for them to go potty, get pj's on, brush teeth and get the last ever important drink of water for the day so they don't thirst to death while they sleep (wink wink). I'm thinking 10 minutes is about what it is taking.
You have to work backwards on your timing. This is an art that once you learn it you wish you'd known about it long ago.
8:00pm Kids in Bed
7:55pm Prayers with Boys
7:45pm Meet at Couch in Living Room for Story Reading
7:35pm Get PJ's on, Brush Teeth, Go Potty, Get Drink
And this schedule clearly shows where the breakdown occurred and chaos stepped in to replace the peace. We were not allowing enough time to carry out the night time routine in a peaceful manner. We were trying to cram a 25 minute process into 5 or 10 minutes. We are also experimenting with having our story/talk time on the couch where we can all be together but it is not a cramped space. So far this small change has been very, very good.
I am very curious, do you have a well-oiled bedtime routine with your kids and what does it look like? Any helpful pointers you've discovered you'd like to share?