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Can a bedtime routine anchor the entire day?
The components of a bedtime routine will vary, of course, from family to family, but being consistent is important for everyone in the family. I strive to balance four important things:
cleaning up and getting ready for the next day getting ready for bed reviewing the day transition time with a parent
1. Cleaning up and getting ready for the next day:
Personally I prefer having the kids clean up before dinner because it's an easier cleaning up after dinner and toys, with a "family fifteen" or other clean up game . Whenever you clean up, I do believe that tidying up one's personal and common space is an important habit to have (and I'm not just talking about the kids, people!)
Getting ready for the next day could mean setting out clothes for the next day, or at least just deciding what to wear. It also might involve knowing your child's school schedule. If it's a school night, you might want to make sure kids have what they need for the next day (is it library day? Does he need gym clothes? Does she have all her homework? Where is the backpack anyway?)
This is the part of the bedtime routine that is probably pretty similar from household to household. This would include at a minimum getting into jammies, brushing teeth, and putting dirty clothes in their hamper or dirty clothes basket/crate.
3. Reviewing the day together:
For me, this is the part of the bedtime routine that is tempting to blow off some days in the interest of time. It is also the most important: spending time with you. In our family, this is the part of the day where I like to go over the kids' reward charts (true confessions: I usually don't get to this every night) and we talk about how the day went. This generally helps with sibling relations and reduces sibling fighting, because my kids talk to each other about problems or disagreements after the emotion is behind them. We occasionally do love games and write in our day book.
4. Time with YOU
If you're still awake at this point, it's a nice time to have some private time with each child, even if it's just a few minutes. This could be reading or just cuddling together and talking. Anything that gives them your undivided attention even for a short time. This is especially crucial with multiple kids.
Give these ideas a try for creating a successful bedtime routine. Like anything else, implementing a routine consistently is the key, but I bet you'll start to look forward to this special time with your kids.
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