What time do your children go to bed?
What can we do to get the children into bed easily?
How much time should we allow for a bedtime routine?
Today I want to offer you 5 tips for establishing a blessed bedtime routine. Many times our children struggle with bedtime because they are not sure what to expect. When you can establish a regular schedule of expectations, then children love the ability to be in control and know what the next step is.
1. Begin early enough in the evening.
If the bedtime is 8 pm and preparation doesn't begin until 7:45pm, then 15 minutes won't be enough time to work through any "issues" that might arise. After a few trial runs, you should have an idea of how long your routine is. For our family, I know what time showers and baths need to begin in the evenings in order to accomplish the entire routine and I try to stay time conscience in the evenings.
2. Have an order of events.
I know this sounds a bit formal. But truly, if you have a mental check-off of what needs to be accomplished, then you will have a more cooperative and successful routine. In the beginning stages of setting up a bedtime routine, you may even want to have a physical to-do list. For us, this would look something like: bath, hair, snack, books, teeth, and prayers. Your order may be different, but following the same order each night will give your children the ability to anticipate the next item on the to-do list. Doing this provides a feeling of security and control.
3. Offer some choices.
To keep things moving along, yet give my child the pleasure of having a choice, I'll offer choices for items that aren't of significance. Some examples might include: "Which pajamas would you like to wear tonight? " (for my 4 yr old or even 2 yr old) or "Would you like to choose the Bible story we read tonight?" (Here is an awesome list of devotionals for children!) Obviously this will vary with age ranges, but offering some choices without a free-for-all empowers children to make decisions and yet follow the rules.
4. Set up a peaceful environment.
For our children, night lights are low and lullaby music is soft. Beds are turned down and all night time snuggling items are tucked in safely. For the older children, we encourage night time reading while in bed. Reading lights are clipped on to books and quietly read while the younger ones drift off. When you prepare the room for sleep, it is more pleasing to fall asleep.
5. Take a few moments to chat and pray with your child in bed.
My husband and I pray with each of our children individually once they are lying in bed. These moments are priceless since as a larger family, individual time is a bit more difficult to manage for each child. While we try to encourage and praise our children throughout the day, bedtime is the one time in a day that we really want to be sweet and encouraging. Telling your children that you love them each night is something they will remember for their entire lives. Giving them praise for the day's accomplishments sets up success for the next day.
What do you do to encourage a blessed bedtime routine? We'd love to read about it in the comments below.