Bedtime routine in the past generally consisted of me working on whatever task I was doing until Dad said something like, “whoa, it’s 25 minutes past bed time kids!” Suddenly everyone is starving, they are too tired to brush their teeth, forgotten homework suddenly popped up, and we were launched into full on chaos which usually ended in me hollering too much! A stressful bedtime carried over to a crazy, can’t find my shoes, where is my homework, we are now late for school, hectic morning. I know this because it was us EVERY school day last year. The morning usually ended up with me hollering way too much and a bad start to the mornings for my kiddos. As the new school year approached, I knew we had to do something different and realized all the commotion stemmed back to a bedtime routine or, rather, a lack of a routine. I sat down at the computer determined to change that! This is what we came up with together as a family to work for our family. I shared it on my personal Facebook page and several friends asked for the file and have also started using it! It is working AMAZINGLY well for everyone that has tried it!
I am going to preface this by saying, you need to adjust this to work for your family. The first thing we had to do was determine a bed time. We had an 8 pm bedtime when the kids were preschool age, so we decided to go with that as our starting point. I set my phone alarm for 8:00 pm every school night. Once it rings no matter WHAT you are doing we drop it and come together for family prayer. Then we (even me) dedicate the next 30 minutes to preparing for the next morning and getting ready for bed! Immediately after prayer I check the weather while the kid’s check the school calendar and menu. I tell them if they will need a jacket in the morning or if it’s going to be a hot day so they can choose proper attire for the next day. Then they tell me if they are having hot or cold lunch. They also check the school calendar/schedule see if it is their day for Show and Tell, maroon shirt day, PE day, field trip day, etc. So they can choose proper clothes not only for the weather but also for the day’s tasks.
At this point they set their clothes out in a designated spot, find a BOTH shoes that work for the next day’s weather/activities, set out jackets, coats, snow pants, etc. They locate all their books, folders, homework, notes, planners, and anything else that needs to be taken to school and get them in their backpacks. Once they are through with that, they come into the kitchen where if they are having cold lunch, they get to choose their 2 sides to pack. I have a print out with the words and just with photos for my non reading child of the side choices. I laminated it and if we are out of something I cross it off the list. If I add something new, like applesauce or carrots, I just write it on there and can adjust if needed.
This probably is my favorite change of all. Last school year, I was doing all the lunch packing, the kids would come home with some food not eaten and it would waste. I was so frustrated and finally asked why didn’t you eat your oranges or pretzels? Turns out one child hates oranges, the other hates pretzels. Of course they weren’t eating them! I let them fill the Tupperware themselves with their sides. They set out their lunch boxes on the counter and note which food they want for their main course that I will pack for them in the morning.
By this point we are usually 13 minutes into the bedtime routine. If they are suddenly starving and time allows they can choose a bedtime snack before they go brush, floss, and mouthwash. I am there to help them every step of the way. I don’t get on the computer, start reading a book, clean the kitchen. I focus that time to them to help them. My alarm goes off again at 8:30 pm, and I head to their rooms. If they are in pajamas and in their beds, then they earn 30 minutes of reading time in bed! If they aren’t in their bed then it’s personal scripture reading, personal prayer and lights out ASAP! They have been successful hitting that 8:30 mark every night for the past couple weeks! The closest they have come is 8:24! They love that they get to have control of their food and clothes choices. I love them working hard to get it done in time. They love to earn a reward. I love that 30 minutes of quiet when they’re reading quietly in bed! It has been a win/win for us! If they complete a perfect week, meaning all 3 of my school age kids, having a complete bedtime routine before 8:30 then on Saturday they earn a reward! This past Saturday the reward was letting them help me plan the school Halloween party, they were thrilled to have insider knowledge and it didn’t cost me a dime! 😉
To make it easier to track, I created a chart for them to check off after each step! Having the same plan to execute every night has made for better nights and mornings! There is no hollering these days and I’m so glad things are going smoothly! If you’d like a copy of the file so you can personalize it for your family, please email me at cjclaytons at gmail dot com. I’d love for you to try it out! What routine has worked for you before?