Every night in my house there was a battle. This battle would start at about 8pm and could last well into the wee hours of the morning. The battle was always won by the children and completely exhausted the parents. If you have children, you probably fight this battle nightly, as well. It’s called the “It’s Bedtime Battle.” My children fought the good fight for many years until one night Mommy got wise and started implementing all the advice she had been reading and given over the years. Who knew that a regular schedule leading up to bedtime would work? Over the summer, the bedtime schedule has been quite relaxed around here so now it’s time to get back into the grind of things and implement the “Bedtime Routine.”
Find a routine that works for your family
I cannot stress how important finding and staying with a routine that works for your family is for the children. For our family, this schedule starts approximately an hour and a half before bedtime. It’s starts with the parents letting the children know that they have about a half hour left to play, watch TV or finish up whatever they are doing and then it’s time to get ready for bed. Usually the response to this is a moan or groan but they can’t say that they haven’t been warned.
I tried a few different types of routines that had worked for others or I had read about and after trial and error, put together a schedule that works for my children. When your children are as far apart in age as mine (7 and 15), it’s a little trickier to make and stick to a routine that works but once you work out all the kinks, the bedtime battle begins to cease.
Sit down and discuss the new routine and get everyone on board
What won’t work is announcing at dinner, “Hey, here are the new night time rules and you have to follow them”. Instead, while seated at dinner, ask the children what would make it easier for them to get into bed at their slotted bed time. Have your pen and paper ready and try to work the children’s reasonable suggestions in, as well. For example, my 7 year old daughter wants to take her bath then read her devotions and a story with me before snuggling in for the night. My 15 year old son would rather have that time to finish up his texting and facebooking before lights out since he showers in the morning. Every child winds down differently and it’s important to keep that in mind.
Keep your cool
Just because the family has discussed and agreed upon this new routine doesn’t mean that the first or the fiftieth night is going to happen without a problem. In the beginning, there is bound to be a few “Mom can I get a drink?” and “Daddy, I’m scared. Come sit with me” scenarios. Usually this happens right when the parents get settled in to watch some TV or relax themselves. It is so easy to become frustrated and agitated when you are ready to wind down and have to keep making trips back to the children’s bedrooms, but don’t. Keep your cool. Yelling and getting frustrated is only going to upset both you and your child thus prolonging bedtime. Stay calm and explain to your children that they had their time to get ready for bed and now it is time to go to sleep. Once this has happened a few times, your children will catch on that Mommy and Daddy aren’t giving in and will quit trying to find an excuse to get out of bed.
Every family and definitely every child is different and the same routine that your friend uses that worked like a charm in her home, may not work for you. Don’t be discouraged. Your children will definitely try to see where your boundaries are and push past them. Don’t get frustrated. Sitting down with your family and making a schedule that is going to fit each child’s requirements is the key from transitioning from a busy day to a peaceful night!