Sometimes I love bedtimes with my kids–books, snuggles, songs, prayers, hugs, kisses and lights out. And sometimes I hate bedtimes with my kids. Why is it that everything seems to hurt…at bedtime? Why is it that suddenly everyone is dying of thirst…at bedtime? And why is it that bowels seem to need to move…at bedtime? AAAAAAHHHHH! It’s enough to make you scream…JUST GO TO BED ALREADY!!!
I have three children and all three of them have had very different bedtime needs. My husband and I have had to crack the secret code with each kid to figure out what would be the right combination to not only get each child to bed, but keep in child in bed!
Along with prayer, here are a few tips I’ve learned to help bedtimes be less crazy. I hope these help you too…
- Have a routine: This helped each of our children get into a bedtime rhythm. We try to keep bedtime close to the same time every night too and as early as possible–around 7:00pm or 7:30pm for little ones. It always helped our kids to know what to expect which brought them security and a flow at bedtime. After dinner, we clean up the house together, do baths, do some family special time like a quick game or a pillow fight or read a book while we have a little snack. Then it’s go to the bathroom, brush teeth, and get tucked in bed. In bed, we do the 4-Bedtime Questions–(if we don’t just do these quickly in the car or while they brush their teeth) which gives our kids a chance to talk about their day. We rub their backs, sometimes sing a quick song or lullaby, say prayers and light out. Do we do all of this every night? No. Do we try? Yes. And that’s all you can do too. Try to keep bedtime as consistent as possible.
- Slow Down: I’m right there with you. At bedtime, you just want your kids to freaking go to bed, but I’ve also learned that they sense that which somehow triggers them to recharge and run around the house like goblins. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had somewhere to go after bedtime and those were always the nights where my kids get bit by the Extra Bug–can I have an extra song? an extra hug? an extra drink of water? an extra blanket? an extra stuffed animal? an extra backrub? When I rush, bedtimes don’t go as well. Slowing down and connecting has really made a positive difference.
- Find what works: My oldest needed a sticker chart (download below) to help him learn to go to bed when it was time to go to bed. He would fight bedtime with all his might until we got him a sticker chart. Every night that bedtime went well, he got a sticker on his chart and got a special tickle time with daddy. My daughter had trouble staying in bed all night long. Sticker charts didn’t interest her, but she loved to be tickled. So every night that she stayed in her bed all night, she got 200 tickles the next day. Every child is different. Find what will work for yours.
- Build a positive relationship even before bedtime begins: Prayer, routine, bedtime questions, sticker charts and even 200 tickles can help with bedtime, but making sure that our kids have our time and love throughout the day can be helpful at bedtime too. Whether you see it as a time bank or a love tank, kids need to feel full with our love and affection. If they feel empty at bedtime and we’re trying to rush them through the process, they may act out simply to get our attention–even if it’s negative. However, if we are intentional about filling our kids up throughout the day with giving hugs or encouraging notes or playing catch or helping them with homework or playing a game or reading a book, they will not feel so depleted when it’s time to close their eyes at night. In fact, we want them to feel as full of our love as possible at the end of each day. Investing time into our children will always be worth it!
Even though there may still be many “Whack-a-Mole” nights, it is my prayer that you will be able to work as a team with your child to crack the bedtime code and discover the right combination for unlocking a beautiful, peaceful, and memorable bedtime for your family!
DOWNLOAD A STICKER CHART BELOW