I'm linking up with Nicole today and sharing what (sort of) works for us as a bedtime rhythm. To read about her's and other's home rhythms check out this post.
This is really a work in progress for us. On the whole, it works pretty well, pretty smoothly, though, there is a bit of high energy that tends to come along at this time that I'd like to deal with better.
Anyway, up until a month or so ago my children have always had a bedtime of 8:00. A couple of things got me to rethinking this time. The first thing that got me to thinking was Nicole's post about bedtime. Her children go to bed at 6:30. Wow, 6:30, I thought. And I mulled this over a while. I got to thinking of how, around 6:00 my girls get extremely hyper and at the same time begin absolutely crashing, lots of melt downs going on then and fighting. And then I began thinking alot about sleep in general (which I do mean to go on about a bit later) and did some reading about when we eat and sleep times. So, I decided to push their bedtime back to 7:00 and just see how it goes. Well, it actually is going really well. But more about that in just a sec.
I try to have us eating supper no later than 5:30. We eat a big meal at lunch so supper for us is usually a light (but warm) vegetable meal, no big proteins. After supper Kaiya gets into the shower while I clean up and then I take a shower. For me, it's really important to get mine out of the way when they do so that I'm not eating into my work time later on. I then bathe both of the little girls in the kitchen sink. We only have a shower and Zoe just hates it so I find it's just easier and more peaceful to do it this way. And I just kind of enjoy this time with them.
After baths the older girls get into the pjs and I get the baby dressed and we all head into the bathroom for teeth and hair brushing. You can find our teeth brushing song here. While they are using the potty and drinking a little water I make my round through the house, turning off lights, closing shades and turning on the night lights and lamps. A note about lights; I have a very dim light that I do leave on for the older girls (River still sleeps with me), all other lights go out at bedtime. When we're all finished I light our bedtime candle (she used to be an angel before we burned through her head, you can find them here) and we go into the living room to read one story. The girls take turns picking it out. By this time River is ready to drop so I usually have to nurse her while I read. As we head back to their bedroom I carry the candle and sing the first two verses of this song. I found it in a bedtime story book of theirs and I hadn't heard it before so I just made up a tune for it. They hop into bed and I usually sing two or three more. And then I say, every night; You've had your drink of water and used the potty, do not get out of bed, and then tell them goodnight (already having hugged and kissed before we walked in there). I have found that if I do not remind them that they've already done these things they will inevitably get out of bed. Sometimes they do anyway, but I remind them again they've already had a drink, but if I've missed telling them this as I'm putting them to bed they say no and we have to go through it all again. Children need repetition, I know it seem redundant to say it every single night but they seem to need that anchor. Their father does not do it when he puts them to bed and they get up every single time.
Kaiya and Zoe usually will read (and sometimes argue and bed hop) for 30 minutes or so, but generally this is a non issue and I will be nursing the babe to sleep, meanwhile. The goal is always to put the older two into bed at 6:30, asleep by 7 and have River nursed and down around then, too. But sometimes our supper has ran late and it is 7 before they're in and 7:30 before everyone is out.
Now, about the time... I have found that all three girls are much less likely to get to that overly tired, breaking down, bickering, fall out exhausted point with this new bedtime. It works. I thought they'd just know it was earlier and fight me but not at all. Now, come 6:00 Kaiya is telling me she's tired, is it bedtime yet? They sleep from about 7:30pm- 7am. I have more to say about sleep that I've been meaning to write, but I'll get to that later.
Anyway, like I said, it is a work in progress. I really would like to figure out how to bring the energy down at this time, a little less chaos and running around going on. Do you have any tips for this?