Monday, April 11, 2011


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?


Jennifer said...

You are so right... we've discovered the same thing lately... we're been rushing through it and barking orders and getting impatient. We've been trying to allow more time and slow things down a bit and stay calmer, and it's going a little better.

However, if you discover the reason why the kids suddenly switch to wild child mode on the instant you utter the word "PJs", please let me know.

Jamie said...

Sometimes you just have to reevaluate. Good for you. Our harder nights are Wed and Sunday. The kids have Choir and Awana on those night so we are home late and still want the same bedtime. Monitor and adjust. Thanks for reminding me to plan ahead and LET THE KIDS KNOW the PLAN. (that last part is my downfall)

Bugs and Sunshine said...

Good Word Jamie! Jennifer, that is funny...pj's and wild child mode do seem to go hand in hand :)

New Every Morning said...

Good for you for recognizing this early enough to make a meaningful change.

Trust me, I am SO with you on this. I am D.O.N.E. by 8pm. As terrible as this sounds, getting a DVR has helped my attitude. Now I'm not rushing to get to my show. I don't feel the time crunch. (Yes, I realize that the tv thing is a whole 'nother issue that I need to deal with, but just being reals)

As my children have gotten older, we've still maintained early bedtimes (they can read in bed). This is for my sanity. Since I am with them 24/7 with homeschooling, I need it. However, I've really tried to work on my "rights" mentality. My rushed tone has changed. We did have to lay down some ground rules. Once they are in bed, no getting up to "visit" (basically they better be really sick) :)

I'm proud of you for doing this and for sharing it with others. Way to go, sweet momma!

Amanda said...

One biggie for us is me and David communicating at 5:30 that this is an "8pm night." Meaning, we have to be deliberate, keep the train movin', no checkin email and this and that cause they want play time, even if it's an early night. If I'm ever by myself and want it to be an early night, girl, I start puttin' them in the tub at 4:30! Ok, maybe not 4:30...5! :)