Bedtime seems to be a real struggle for a lot of parents. In my 12 years of experience with bedtime I have found things run much more smoothly if I have a stringent routine. The key is to stick to it no matter what. It's very simple, really.
Here is what our bedtime routine looks like:
7:30 CLEAN UP
My 5 little obedient children stop whatever they are doing as soon as I ask and start picking up toys. Everyone works together cheerfully and they are finished in record time. We may even sing the clean-up song.
Sweet smiling children come to the table and enjoy a healthy snack of fruit and cheese or vegetables and dip. There is no fighting and no messes made. They all help put the food away when they are finished without being asked.
8:00 PJS AND BRUSHING TEETH
Everyone happily changes and brushes their teeth in five minutes without making a water or toothpaste mess and all the dirty clothes are placed in the hamper.
8:05-8:30 FREE TIME
Darling kiddos draw, color, or look at magazines without making a peep or a mess.
The 3 older kids gleefully read quietly in their beds while I read to the two younger ones.
9:00 LIGHTS OUT
I give everyone hugs, kisses and tuck them in. Everyone is fast asleep in five minutes.
See? Simple. Easy Breezy. Now I have all night to myself to binge watch DVR shows, snack and read. YAY!
Of course I am lying through my teeth. That would be a dream, but no, doesn't happen!
Here is what our bedtime routine (if you can even call it that!) really looks like:
7:30 Nag children to stop what they are doing and clean up. I am invisible
7:35 Nag some more. They are hypnotized by their screens.
7:40 Take away devices and beg. Whining ensues. "I'm not tired." "I wasn't done." etc. Then "I didn't make any messes." "That mess is so and sos" etc.
7:55 Everything is finally put away and I shove a banana in any kids face that actually show up for snack and tell them to shove it in their mouth and quick!
8:00 Find banana smashed into carpet
8:05 Beg kids to put on pjs and brush teeth. Running and goofing around ensues.
8:15 Beg again and some of them listen.
8:20 Find my 12 yr old still not changed and still using ipod (not allowed after 8). Take it away and send him and his brother downstairs to get changed and brush teeth.
8:25 Send 6 yr olds into bathroom to brush teeth.
8:30 Hear goofing around downstairs, ignore it. Knock on LOCKED door to ask girls what is going on. No response. Go check on 10 yr old to see how she is doing. Still hasn't done a thing. She is still doing homework.
8:40 Demand 6 yr olds open door. Find toothpaste, liquid soap and water everywhere. Send them away and spend next 10 mins cleaning up huge disaster.
8:50 Girls have disappeared.
8:55 Find girls downstairs goofing off with boys who still have not done a thing.
9:00 Usher girls upstairs, kisses, tucking in, lights out. They complain they didn't get a story. Ignore them. Trip on clothes that never made it to the hamper on the way out.
9:10 Remind 10 yr old to get going, it's past bedtime.
9:15 Go downstairs and shove boys into bathroom to brush teeth, give a 2 min limit. Wait. Send them to their rooms to change and get in bed.
9:20 10 yr old daughter still has done nothing. Tell her to get moving. Hear 6 yr olds goofing off. Find them reading with flashlights. Warn them to go to sleep.
9:25 Follow 10 yr old around until she finally changes and brushes teeth. Tuck her in.
9:35 Go downstairs and shut off boys light and tuck them in. Trip on clothes that never made it to the hamper on the way out.
9:45 Boys come upstairs and get water and leave huge mess.
9:50 Attempt to sit down.
10:00 Go tell boys to go to sleep and discover 12 yr old stole ipod. Take it away.
10:00-10:30 Daughter comes out to do cartwheels and "tell me something" every 5 minutes. In between those 5 minutes I yell down to the boys to go to sleep.
10:30 FINALLY quiet, everyone is asleep. Get a snack, sit down to watch tv and promptly fall asleep.
3 AM Wake up with neck cramp and stumble to bed
Repeat daily. See? It is really quite simple if you just have a good routine. LOL