I wrote this blog post a couple weeks ago, and ever since then I have had a terrible time getting my own children to bed each night. I decided to share a little about what is going on in my home, to hopefully, encourage someone who may be struggling with bedtime at their house. I have a four year old, a seven year old, an eleven year old, and a 12 year old that are all supposed to go to bed at 9 pm Sunday night through Thursday night. The last few weeks they have been getting out of bed, bickering, making messes, and just down right disobeying. At our home, Jeremy leaves for work just before 10 pm each night. So, the kids have realized that if they stay quiet until he leaves for work, then they can get up and do whatever they want. They know mom is tired and going to bed, so it becomes total chaos.
Every night when this happens I try not to become angry and try to handle it with patience. Two nights ago, I thought the kids had actually all gone to bed really good, and I was looking forward to telling them how pleased I was with them in the morning. When I went up to go to bed at 10:30, I found out that they were not in bed, and instead were all in the little girls room making a huge mess and definitely not sleeping. I was so upset, and I not only yelled, I cried. I said, “I am so disappointed, I thought you all were going to get your name of the board in the morning.” I had to go to my room and call Jeremy because I was so upset. The kids could hear me talking to Jeremy and how upset I was.
It turned out to be the solution to the bedtime dilemma. When they all heard me crying and upset, they were disappointed in themselves. The next day they each came and told me how they were sorry and that they planned to go to bed like big kids that night.
Sometimes the best lessons come in being real with our children. They need to know we have feelings.
Anyway, here is the bedtime blog post about our rule page, Bedtime.
I am not the best mom when it comes to bedtime. If you know Jeremy and I, personally, you have probably heard our bedtime story before. But, for those who haven’t I will share it hear.
When I was a little girl, my dad always put us kids to bed each night. Sometimes, he would actually come in and tuck us in and pray with us, and maybe even tell us a story. But, the older we got, the less time he needed to spend with us to get us in bed and off to sleep. My sisters and I were pretty well behaved, and we knew that if we were not, there would be consequences. We went to bed at 9 o’clock, until we started high school, then we went to bed at 10 o’clock. We were allowed as teens to quietly read in our bed, or visit with each other in our room quietly. But, we were expected to be in bed on time.
When Jeremy and I had children, I just assumed it was his job to put the kids to bed. Every day, by the time it was bedtime, I was exhausted. We had our first two daughters, and then after having our second, we became foster parents, and we never had less than six kids. Jeremy worked, and so did I. We would have family dinner, and then we would both be exhausted for the day. I never really communicated to Jeremy that I thought it was a dad’s job to put the kids to bed. He never really said anything to me, either, about bedtime. But, I was stubborn, I refused to put the kids to bed. Every night they would run around until they just dropped. Then we would take them to their beds. This went on for years. Then one day I lost it and yelled at Jeremy, “why don’t you put these kids to bed?” He looked at me like I was crazy. I told him, “my dad always put us kids to bed, it was a special time for me as a child.” He was like, “really?”
This is a true story, you can ask my older children.
Our kids didn’t suffer too badly from those years of not being tucked into bed at a set bed time, but it was exhausting and stressful for Jeremy and I. Setting a bedtime and a bedtime routine, created order and good sleep patterns not only in our children, but in our lives too.
Honestly, I think every family is different and needs to do what is best for their home. Most of our parenting years, Jeremy has worked third shift. So, evenings is the only time her has to connect with his children. So, we often allow our children special times of staying up, and then sleeping in the next day. But, the set routine most nights gives consistency and order to our home.
Sleep is necessary for growth and development. Sleep is necessary for good health. So, we don’t want our children to see bedtime as a punishment, but rather a gift. We tell them what a privilege it is to have a bed, blankets, and a home to sleep in safety.
Our youngest child at home is four. So, we do not have any toddlers or babies to put to bed anymore. But I would like to briefly discuss my thoughts on bedtime for these smaller children. When my second daughter was born I read a book that encouraged putting infants to bed and letting them learn to self sooth. This lead me to two years of listening to two of my children cry themselves to sleep night after night. It was not a good solution for those two children. In fact, I think I could argue it caused them trauma that I later had to get counseling for them both to deal with. I think there are lots of infants and toddlers who can self-sooth and sleep comfortably in their own bed/crib. But, honestly, I have given birth to 11 children, adopted 4, and had the privilege to care for many other infants and toddlers as a foster mom. Every child is unique, every situation is different. For me, each child has been a opportunity to learn and grow as a person. Honestly, until a child is about three years old, I encourage you as a parent to do whatever you need to do to create a safe and secure home for your child. Don’t worry about what other think. If sleeping with your baby works best, great. If having your baby sleep in the nursery away from you works best, great. If sleeping on the floor in the living room works best, great. IF sleeping with a sibling is best, great. As long as, your baby is safe and loved, that is all that matters.
Children are only little a very, very short time. During this time, they need to know that their care giver is trustworthy and a safe person. A safe place to sleep is so important. If a child feels unsafe they will not sleep well. It is more important that dad and mom are rested and dealing with their stress. Sometimes, trying to listen to all the advice and do it, is more stressful than just doing what works for your family.
So, when your children are every little bedtime might not go as smoothly each and every night as you hoped it would, but just keep your cool and create a safe place for your family to rest and sleep.
Ok, back to our bedtime page in our rule book. Bedtime is 9 pm for children up to age 12. Children age 13-17 are to go to bed at 10 pm. Lastly, responsible members of our household age 17 and older are allowed to stay up as long as they are up on time in the morning and responsible and kind during the day.
We have adult children living at home now, they are asked to be inside and quiet after 10 pm, unless they are at work.
If a child is continuously grumpy, annoying, rude, and/or overly moody, we adjust their bedtime to help them get the sleep they need to adjust their attitude.
Because Jeremy leaves for work at 10 pm during the week, I do have children that will test my limits and get out of bed after he has left for work. When this happens they lose their privilege’s of staying up late with dad on the weekends and weekend electronic privileges.
I admit bedtime is one of the hardest daily task for me. If it is for you too, I encourage you to always remember your children will grow up and one day appreciate the gift of bedtime. Until then be patient, and don’t let their immaturity get the best of you.
Free PDF of our rule book.
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