I’m pretty sure that a woman’s eggs can communicate with one another long before conception occurs and they can actually co-conspire with one another to say, agree that once they are born that they will stand in solidarity to fight bedtime with every ounce of their beings.
I wish I could say that my boys are unified in more positive ways, and sometimes they are, but the grisly reality is that they are most in sync with one another once 7 PM rolls around and they see me begin to gather their pajamas to prepare them for bed. Suddenly, the day’s sibling rivalries over ipads, who cheated in monopoly, or who is touching who in the car evaporate as they collaborate to Delay. Sleep. As. Long. As. Possible.
Anyone? Please, tell me this is not just my kids!
Bedtime used to be torture. I couldn’t take all the excuses for staying up late and at a ratio of 3 to 1, I was outnumbered. And then I remembered that the parent’s best friend is consistency. We lacked routine and so chaos reigned. I hated ending the day on a sour note!
Over the years of parenting my 3 boys, I learned to approach bedtime with joy instead of dread. I loosened my expectations so that I could go with the flow while balancing a schedule the kids could expect every night. I wanted that last hour of the day to be saturated in the goodness of God! Don't you too?
Here are 6 things we implement into our nighttime routine to make bedtime if not peaceful (Honestly, not much is ever calm and quiet in a testoster-HOME!), at least a positive time of day for our whole family:
1. Start Early!
If I want my kids asleep by 8 PM, I need a solid hour head start! As 7 PM rolls around, I give my boys a verbal heads’ up that it’s getting close to bedtime and that they need to wrap up what they are doing in the next 5 minutes. Then we all head down the hallway (or slither, or stampede etc. as boys often do) to begin our routine!
2. Predictable Pattern!
The first thing we do is get into pajamas (on bath nights, we begin at 6:50 to get into the tub or shower). I lay them out for the boys to avoid jockeying over delays in selecting pajamas. I then give my boys any medications they need at bedtime and then read them a story or a chapter from a book. After that, my husband supervises teeth brushing and one last potty break before heading back to their shared bedroom.
3. Snacks and Water!
The ole “I need a snack” trick is as old as time. We let our kids have one last bite to eat while they settle onto the floor for story time and before teeth-brushing. Guy gathers water bottles to put beside their beds so they don’t need to wander out and groggily ask for water at 3 AM. Mama needs her beauty sleep!
4. Read A Book, like Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time, By Mark Batterson and Joel N. Clark
My boys range in age from 3-8, so their reading levels are obviously different. I like to read “up” and am always surprised at how much my youngest son gleans from the chapter books I read to my older boys. If his mind begins to wander and he gets fidgety, he has some picture books he can leaf through, or Daddy will quietly read to him while I continue with the older boys.
My kids love books filled with action and one we recently started to read is, Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time, By Mark Batterson and Joel N. Clark. It’s the first in a series and follows eleven-year-old Jack whose “ordinary life is upended when he is whisked into a fantastical adventure filled with danger.” It’s up to Jack to find “the Child of Prophecy who will both save the world and destroy it”. This book is about true leadership and integrity, and is filled with Biblical wisdom that I want my kids to emulate. I love the positive character-building message, they love the intrigue and suspense-it’s a win, win! AND, Mark Batterson (The Circle Maker) has generously shared a copy with me to gift to one of YOU!! More details on how to enter the giveaway at the end of this post!
5. Affirmation (Hang in there with me on this one-it’s so awesome!)
One of the things we implement as part of our bedtime routine is an organic time of affirmation over each of our sons. It's a simple yet mindful way of breathing life into our kids while also changing our own mindsets to turn from any anger or frustration to believing the best about our kids and choosing to be thankful. It goes something like this as we help them get dressed for bed, or as we tuck them under the covers, or in the form of our nightly prayers:
"Oliver, you did a wonderful job remembering to put your plates in the sink. I think God enjoys seeing you be such a helpful son to me and your good example to your younger brothers. You are a sacrificial leader."
"Quinn, whenever I saw you today, you had a smile on your face. You make my heart happy with your joyful spirit. I bet God has some plans for your life that involve encouraging others with your kind heart and happy attitude. You are so special!"
"Oakley, I saw you building that fort all by yourself today. You are a smart boy and God has given you the ability to be creative like that. I know the Lord is pleased with you when you create things and use your talents. I sure love you!"
I want to encourage you to apply some kind of similar blessing in your daily or nightly routine too. There is always something we can be thankful for about our children! Give them a glimpse of God's pleasure in them and let them know how much you believe in them too! Imagine if someone spoke those kinds of words over you every night!
6. Singing, Prayer, and FINAL CHATTER
The final stage of our night is to turn off the lights and sing a song or two. Then we pray for the boys and they often want to pray too -nothing blows my mind more than whom and what they pray about-God IS at work in their hearts and this is the perfect time to see the Spirit working in their lives! My husband and I recently went on an overnight trip and the babysitter texted me to say that he had tears in his eyes over the prayers my boys prayed! Nothing better than that!
This is also the time when they really begin to settle down…and before we know it, someone’s little voice calls out for Mommy and the avalanche of feelings from the day, a secret fear, or some other meaningful glimpse into their hearts is revealed. There’s something about the quiet cloak of the night, and knowing that mom and dad are there listening, that cause them to share what is rumbling around in the depths of their hearts-whether it’s a worry about a friendship or a kind word of gratitude for their brothers, it’s often the tenderest time of our day! I used to want them to be totally silent and GET TO SLEEP ALREADY, but I have learned to both expect and cherish this time when they open up to me and their dad. Wouldn’t trade the confidences they share for silence for all the tea in China! Be open to these final moments of chatter-it’s a gift, not an annoyance!
Before we know it, the boys have drifted off to sleep….cared for, nurtured, affirmed, and heard. It takes time, planning, and expectancy that the Lord will help us to end the day well but it’s worth the effort! It's a refining process for me to be patient and dig deep from the Fruit of the Spirit to bless my kids instead of acting cranky. And I can use all the refining I can get!
How about you? Perhaps a GREAT book is just what you need to jumpstart bedtime! To enter to win the giveaway of Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time, leave a comment here and share with me:
What works for you and your kids at bedtime? Is nightfall a time of dread or delight? What do you think about our routine? Or, share with me which of Mark Batterson’s books you have read before? (The NY Times Best-Selling, The Circle Maker, remains a favorite of mine!)
I will draw a winner at the end of the day on Wednesday, July 22nd, and announce it on my Mother Of Knights Facebook Page, so be sure to check back in to see if you won! And don’t forget to pass this post on to others if it blessed you! WINNER UPDATE: Congratulations to Amy!! She won a copy of, Jack Staples And The Ring Of Time! I have emailed her and hope to hear back from her soon, otherwise, I will pick a new winner in a few days! :)
Also, this post contains affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase through the link, I earn a few cents from Amazon at no extra cost to you-I appreciate you supporting my ministry this way as well! Thank you!