I wrote a comment on another blog and thought that it would be helpful to post here too. Many people ask me about our bedtime/nigh time routine. So, here it is...Enjoy!
It seems that this is a bittersweet topic for any parent. The kind that what you want to be and how you want to handle bedtimes conflicts with reality.
We start bedtime routine at 7pm. This takes some time b/c it means each child needs to shower or bathe, then into pj's, then directly into bed...to read, do puzzles, color (hopefully not the walls or sheets!), or anything quiet in bed not disturbing their roommates. We were told by another great couple who are great parents to lots of great kids to get this routine in place ASAP. I would like to add that you have to do what is best for your family. Just b/c things work a certain way for us does not mean that it will also work perfectly for you. So, just pick and choose from what is out there for ideas and put together some sort of routine.
Why it works well is also b/c BOTH my wonderful hubby and I are in it together. We know what to expect during bedtimes and we make it work. Sometimes with a little bit of frustration (and sometimes with a lot!) but our ultimate goal is always the same: Get the kids in bed then we have time to spend together talking or just being with each other.
We also put on a BOOK ON CD every night for them to listen to. Lots to choose from at the library--this is a HUGE important part of bedtime. They love their books on CD's!!!
Our 2 year old and baby who is 8 months are not into this routine so they hang out with us while we clean up dinner dishes and clean around the house. This has been working for us and has been a great help for my husband and I to have some talking time (even w/2 babies around!). even though it is tough most nights b/c of how sunny it still is at 7/8pm...they are used to it, but they are kids and they do try to wiggle their way out of bedtime to stay up like the 'big kids' do. Every night, we have to tell them to get back in bed, stay in bed, read etc...and we do bribe them every now and then. We turn off lights anytime between 8 and 8:30 and keep the Book on CD playing. Then they eventually fall asleep. Then we do too! no joke!
Hope this was helpful to those of you that ask. One last thing: stick to it for a LONG time and don't give up! It's important for our kids to have routine and important for this Momma and Daddy to get some down time too. Oh, and expect that it will not be easy. Lower your expectations and things will get better over time. Pray that God will give you patience and fortitude. And remember that...KIDS ARE KIDS! and they will try to get out of it...but don't give up!
For us, it is totally worth all our efforts!
God bless, Mary