Bedtime Sticker Chart–Plus, 4 Tips to Make Bedtime Easier

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…

  1.  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.
  2. 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.  
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Bedtime Sticker Chart-Boy

Bedtime Sticker Chart-Boy

Bedtime Sticker Chart-Girl

Bedtime Sticker Chart-Girl

 

 

The Bedtime Hoops: 4 Important Questions to Ask Your Kids Every Night

This post first appeared on  Her View From Home

I love my kids, but by bedtime, I’m just exhausted.  At 8pm, my patience shuts off.  It’s like I have some sort of glitch in my parenting code, or maybe I just missed the patience upgrade with each kid or something?

So when I have to jump through so many drinks-of-water hoops, tickle hoops, tuck-in hoops, bedtime-song hoops, pee-pee hoops, and brush-your-freaking-teeth-already hoops, I feel that if they don’t get away from me as soon as possible, I’m going to jump through the I’ve-lost-my-mind hoop and escape into a dimension where only brownies, beaches, and books exist.

But that’s not reality! (Oh how I wish it was sometimes though—minus the losing my mind hoop).    The reality is that parenting doesn’t stop at 8pm.  And even though some of the hoops I jump through annoy me, there are four hoops that I would never miss jumping through no matter how tired or impatient I feel…The 4-Questions Hoops.

I started asking my kids these four questions every night and it has changed our relationship.  It has brought us closer.  It has created a more positive shift in their focus throughout their day and in mine.

  1. What was your favorite part about your day? This question allows us to jump through the hoop of positivity together.  It helps my children focus on the best parts of their day, and gives us another opportunity to reflect on them, laugh even more about them, and find joy in those special moments one more time before they close their eyes.
  2. What was your least favorite part about your day? This question allows us to jump through the hoop of reality together.  No one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes, so it’s great to have the opportunity to be real and talk about those things in their day that didn’t go well—bad choices, disrespect, being irresponsible.  This question has allowed for me to model unconditional love and has given me many second-chance teachable moments.  Even if I lost my temper the first time around, I have one more chance to walk them through what they should have done differently.  It’s great for kids to be reminded that tomorrow is a new day to try again.
  3. Do you have any questions about your day? This question allows us to jump through the honesty hoop together.  It establishes a habit of always letting them know that they can ask me anything and can trust me to listen and love.  It shows them that I’m a “safe” person who isn’t going to judge or get angry or be upset if they want to talk about the tough stuff.
  4. How did you show kindness or love today? This question allows us to jump through the integrity hoop together.  It encourages them to be kind and loving to others even when no one is watching.  It is the most powerful, life-changing question I have asked!  My kids have learned just how simple it is and how capable they are of showing kindness or love every single day.  When I first started asking this question, my eight year old had trouble coming up with an answer, so I would step in to tell what I saw him do–he was thoughtful to take his plate to the sink, he played with his sister nicely, he gave his little brother a turn with his squirt gun, he washed his hands the first time I asked him to.  Creating an awareness of the little ways that he can show kindness and love has empowered him to do even more.  Plus, I find myself looking for those positive things that each child does throughout the day so I can share it with them that night.  They love hearing all the great things they’ve done.  Kindness and love…this is the focus I want my kids to have throughout their day!

The 4-Questions hoops have helped me learn more about my kids: baseball game play-by-plays, storm fears, favorite colors and movies. But I have also taught more to my kids:  answering questions about abortion, smoking, appreciating the differences in others and I’ll never forget the night we cried together about a little boy in a wheel chair.

Because of jumping through the 4-Questions hoops of positivity, reality, honesty, and integrity every night, I have laughed louder, cried more, snuggled closer, and taught lessons about life that I would not have had the opportunity to do in the busyness of the day.  Dear parents, at bedtime, won’t you join me in fixing that glitch in your parenting code, upgrading your patience level, bending your knees, and jumping through these four extra hoops with me every night too?  I promise that these are the hoops you will never regret jumping through for your kids.