Bedtime Battles

It's a battle every night when it comes to putting my kids to bed. I'm at the end of my rope, what can I do?

TIM KIMMEL: Man, I love this question, because I have the solution for you. Here’s what you need to do. You have these young kids, you need to put them to bed. You have got to start putting them to bed at 5:00 in the evening.

Actually, what I mean is, that’s when you want to start shifting the gears of the house, start quieting everything down, and actually make 5:00 the beginning of the plan to get these kids into bed.

DARCY KIMMEL: That’s right. Turn off the TV. Make sure that you have a ritual. It might start with a bath, maybe some books. But make sure every night every night they have a reason to actually look forward to going to bed. It’s actually the highlight of their evening, because there is quality time with Mom and Dad.

TIM: Yes. And even dinner can be part of that buildup to that. You want it quieted down, you get them eating dinner with you, and then you move them on to the next things. If they are little kids in elementary school, they might have to do some homework, but the main thing is, you have quieted the house, you’ve calmed everything down, and then you move them in there, get their bath, get their pajamas on, and their teeth brushed and all. And then reading to them . . .

DARCY: Reading to them. We had three songs that we sang to our kids.

TIM: Yeah. Lullabies.

DARCY: Every night. And you could physically feel their bodies start to relax, because they were programmed that when the songs were sang, and their backs were rubbed, and the prayers were said, they knew that it was the end of a great day.

And you know what? Don’t stop doing it, just because your kids grow up.

We still have a seventeen-year-old son at home, and at the end of the day, he’ll stand at the top of the stairs and say, “Mom and Dad, I’m going to bed.” He’s not announcing that he’s going to bed. He’s saying, without actually having to say it, “Mom and Dad, will you please come up and put me to bed and say goodnight to me.”

And you know, it’s amazing how teenagers will open up when they’re laying there in the dark, you’re rubbing their back. That’s when they want to talk. It puts a great period at the end of their day, and helps you stay connected to their heart through those teenage years.

TIM: Listen, putting kids to bed has been for us one of the most strategic parts of our parenting plan, because there is so much you can build into their heart at that time.

So, don’t fight this. And especially make better plans. If bedtime is 8:00 for your little kids, and you start at 7:45 to put them to bed, well, that’s pandemonium. That’s damage control. They won’t be down until 11:00.

But if you build this ritual and really plan it well, quiet down that house, and do all the things we talked about, you know what else? This stops them from getting up after you have already put them down. You watch. You are going to see a lot of victory here, and a much better and closer family when it’s all done.

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