Simplifying Bedtime for Kids

I’ve been realizing that bedtime for the kids has been taking for-ev-er lately.  Bedtime around here is 8:00. That is supposed to mean they are in bed at 8:00, but too often it means we are starting the process at around 8:00, which means they aren’t in bed until 9:00!  I don’t think this process should take an hour! And that is not counting baths, which we don’t do every day.

I want my bedtime to be 10:00 (Rarely actually happens), so if the kids aren’t in bed until 9:00, that gives me less than an hour to: get things done/relax/read/spend time with Mr. RSS.

Here’s the kids’ typical bedtime routine:

  • Big kids (ages 7 and 5) get themselves ready for bed and brush teeth. I get Anna ready for bed.
  • Each big kid picks a book for me to read to them, then I read a Bible story or 2 (short – from a children’s Bible)
  • Prayer time: we each usually pray each night
  • hugs/kisses/tuck in

The things that are making it take loooonger:

  • Big kids taking too long to get ready for bed – distracted with playing, etc instead of staying focused on the task
  • As the kids get older, they are requesting longer books
  • Another thing about getting older – their prayers are getting longer :-)
  • Chit-chat about the day, or the next day, or totally random things like how many days until their next birthday
  • Requests for water, wanting a certain stuffed animal, etc

I used to think of bedtime with the kids as a sweet time together, but I have started to dread it most nights, and that doesn’t make for a sweet time at all.

Time to simplify! Here are some things I am starting:

Starting the bedtime routine earlier

7:30 on a typical night, or 7:00 if it is a bath night. This means that I need to get dinner on the table on time! I am doing better with this.

Using a Timer

The big kids have 10-15 minutes(I’m working on figuring out the right number) to get ready for bed including PJs, brushing teeth, bathroom, getting water for themselves if they need it, and getting any animals they want with them.

If they are not ready in time, then no time for reading that night. This is working really well so far!

Simplifying Reading

One child picks a book each night, or I read a chapter book. Another thing I tried for the first time last night, is “Read on your own night.” This idea came from my friend Vicki. Love it! I actually stayed in the room and put laundry away while Ella read a book to Gabe. I’m keeping the Bible story time the same.

Simplifying Prayer Time

You guessed it, one person prays each night instead of all of us. Or maybe we’ll have one kid and one adult pray. We’ll see what works. Of course they can always pray more on their own! I have to say that I love hearing the kids pray, for lots of reasons. One time Ella’s prayer was, “Dear God, please help everyone who has boogies that won’t come out.” So sweet.

By the way, Mr. RSS often helps with the kids’ bedtime, too. The kids especially love when he reads to them, except that I’m the better pirate singer. :-)

I think simplifying the kids’ bedtime routine is going to make it more enjoyable for all of us! I’ll be sure to give you an update sometime.

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12 Comments

Filed under Kids, Time Management

12 Responses to Simplifying Bedtime for Kids

  1. Great idea to set a timer for the big kids! I like how if they take too long the consequence is less fun for them instead of you.

  2. Sarah Godwin

    Hope it is successful for you. Kids sure are good at stalling, aren’t they? I love the timer! It works well for lots of things. I’m going to get one for each floor in the next house. Our bedtimes have gotten off-track quite a bit. New routine will begin after the move. Right now it is too hectic, and w/ Ken gone I’ve cheated and let the kids read in my bed, then sleep w/ me. Not good for me, but at least they all sleep. Never mind getting things done. I’m too tired these days! Most days I try to spend enough time reading to them earlier, that at bedtime, we just go w/ worship time–family hymn of the month, read a Psalm, Bible story, prayer time. That helps a lot. I just need to start everything earlier, as well. Since I’m not sleeping well these days, I usually end up doing my Bible reading at 3 or 4am, when I’m awake anyway for Abigail’s party time. Ugh! But nothing can put you back to sleep like several chapters of Jeremiah!

  3. Barbara

    Great ideas! I have to be real here- I never cherished bedtime after the boys left the crib. Up until that point, I loved to snuggle and rock and sing my boys to sleep. But then they got old enough to talk and vaulting out of their crib, and well, my fun was over and theirs was just beginning!! : (

    My DH has opened a gym, so I am flying solo for bedtime most nights, which I am slowly getting resentful of. I need to use your ideas here before I really lose my mind. I’ve got the 2 year old hiding from me to avoid bathtime, the 5 year old yelling about how he didn’t get enough dessert, and the 7 year old procrastinating by playing with the dog. Then I get them all in bed after an hour, only to have the older two race downstairs in dress up costumes, for goodness sake! All of that work, that nagging, that frustration!! So I DEFINITELY need to use some of these tips for my sanity (can you tell I need it!!!).

    Tonight, I’ll put in place my new strategies: start bedtime earlier, use timers, and BREATHE!!! Looking forward to seeing how you do with this!!

    Barbara

    • WilliamB

      Some thoughts/ideas for you to consider:

      – Can you take the gym responsibilities some nights and let DH fly solo? (Long shot but great if it works.)

      – Does your 2 yo need a bath every day? If so, does it need to be near bedtime?

      – To what extent can you set things up so that your kids’ misbehavior brings its own natural negative consequences? Frex, my sibling tell the niblings that they have 30 min to get ready for bed and reading; if the kids take too long getting ready, they don’t get read to.

    • I agree with WilliamB…I’d definitely set up some consequences for the getting-out-of-bed disobedience. I hope things get better for you!

    • Hi Barbara!
      I just want to say thank you for your honesty! Our bedtime changes are working pretty well here except the start earlier part – mostly because of dinner not being ready early enough. But I feel progress! I hope your changes are working!

      • Barbara

        Thought I would update: getting started earlier has been our biggest help for bedtime. I start all the baths/showers at 7:15pm. By 7:40, everyone is bathed and had their teeth brushed. The 2 yr old is the easiest- so he’s in the crib and lights out by 7:45pm (with a dark out shade, thank you very much!!!). The older 2 each have book time and it’s lights out (and oh yes, blinds AND a dark out shade). My oldest is allowed to read for 15 additional min in his top bunk with a book light after I leave. I am still having issues with the middle kid, who insists on talking out loud to Santa and setting up his stuffed animals in a circle. One day I KNOW I will look back on all that as cute and shed a tear, but right now I struggle with seeing it as darling.

        I also used the timer one night when time got away from me and that was really effective! Also, I did set up a consequence (though it feels like a threat) for getting out of bed- Toy Jail. If either boy comes out of the room, or I hear yelling/screaming/etc. I put a cherished toy in jail for a week. Gosh, I feel like such a meanie and a nag, but it has been effective.

        Hoping to keep up the progress!! Thanks for posting this and nudging me to make changes.
        Barbara

        • WilliamB

          My take is that you’re not being a meanie and a nag, you’re being a parent. Kids can’t learn if they don’t have models to follow, and it’s a parent’s job to provide good models. Such as getting enough sleep! As one of my friends put it “Tired is stupid.”

          Congratulations on the progress! Let us know if it gets easier over time.

  4. aahhh yes the days of long bedtime routines ~ those will pass so quickly as your little ones get older. I’m all about shortening the process in the way you’re going about it! Cherish it all!

  5. You’re so right that a good bedtime routine starts with getting dinner ready on time. I notice that on the nights when I’m late getting dinner ready, we struggle with the whole rest of the evening.

    Our schedule is:

    5:00-6:00-eat
    6:00-6:30-clean up, get S&Z ready for bed
    6:30-7:00-family worship
    7:00-7:15-put S&Z in bed
    7:15-8:30-time for hanging out with Mr. FG, even though J&E aren’t in bed
    8:30-bedtime for me

    If we don’t eat until 5:30 or even 6:00, that really puts a wrinkle in things.

  6. Great post, Mrs. Elizabeth!
    I certainly understand your frustration! We are working on it too!

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