Sunday, October 16, 2011

31 Days {Day 16}: Tackling Bedtime

As mothers of little ones, there areas of struggle that we deal with on a daily basis.  Bedtime is a biggie! 

How is it that children get rowdier as they grow sleepier?!  When I'm tired, I tend to slow down, talk less, and settle my body.  My children do the opposite until the energy in the house has reached a dangerous level.  Bedtime is not the quiet, peaceful affair I wish it to be. 

Our three oldest children (8, 7, and 5) are responsible for their own nightly routine.  They put on their pajamas, use the potty, brush their teeth, choose a CD to listen to or a stuffed animal to sleep with, and get into bed.  (Just because they are responsible for this routine doesn't mean they do each thing in perfect order without reminders.  It also doesn't mean there isn't a nightly tussle over which boy needs to pee "baaaaaad" and who can wait to go second.) 

In the meantime I am free to ready the littlest ones (3 and 13 months) for bed.  This is when I am so grateful when Brian is home with us.  He will often take Benjamin for his last potty run of the day and dress him for bed while I nurse Alaine and tuck her in to her bed in our room.  If I am home alone during bedtime, I juggle the best I can, choosing to either put Alaine to bed before I begin the others' routine... or wait until they are finished before I start with her.

When we lived in a townhouse and before Alaine was born, the three oldest kids (2 boys and 1 girl) shared a bedroom.  When Brian was home, he would pray with them and put them to bed while I settled the almost 2-year-old (Benjamin) into his bed in our room. 

Last summer when I was pregnant, Brian worked many late evenings while I was on my own at bedtime-- a truly overwhelming prospect.  My coping mechanism was to gather everyone for bed earlier than usual and spend time in their room reading and singing while I rested my aching back.  It turned a potentially chaotic time into a sweet time of fun and warm memories.

Right after Alaine was born, I noticed that Benjamin was feeling a little misplaced while he adjusted to his new status as big brother.  We began our own little routine at bedtime that eased some of his insecurity.  I would take him upstairs and while the baby was quietly nursing, I would ask Benjamin what two songs he would like to sing for his bedtime songs.  (For weeks, he chose "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" followed by "The Bear Went Over the Mountain," though he eventually branched out to "Veggie Tales" and "Jesus Loves Me.")  Those few minutes of one-on-one time at the end of the day were precious to both of us and calmed his delicate heart for sleep. 

What are your tricks for making bedtime go (more) smoothly? 

{Disclaimer: Though this post was written to give you ideas and to illustrate how our family handles bedtime, remember that you are walking your own path!}

1 comment:

  1. Bedtime at our house has to have a routine. We have kids shower and get on pj's not long after dinner usually, with mommy and daddy washing and dressing the youngest two (ages 10 mos and 2yrs). The 4yo is washed with his little brothers and dresses himself, and the 5, 7, and 10 yo kids wash and dress. We just give one minute reminders to get out of the warm shower or they get a cold one next time...LOL.

    When bedtime rolls around everyone goes potty and the diaper kids get fresh diapers. We pray together at the couch and the oldest 4 go up to bed. 2 girls in one room, 2 boys in the other. The white noise machine is on in the hall between them, lights are out. The youngest 2 boys stay downstairs. The 2yo lays on the couch with his pillow and blanket, has milk, and goes to sleep (I then carry him up to bed). I hold the 10 month old and give him a bottle while this is happening and he goes to sleep in my arms.

    Ta Da.

    Is it magic? Nope. Does it work? generally.


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