Winning the Bedtime War

Bedtime for your children doesn't have to be your worst nightmare. While it may take several weeks to establish the right routine for your homeschool family, relax and don't try to hurry this special bonding time at the end of the day. Your children will enjoy going to bed if they learn they can expect a pleasant time filled with love, security, and emotional connection.

So, what can you do if your children fuss and refuse to go to sleep on time? Try these helpful suggestions to eliminate the bedtime battle and keep the peace at your house:

Quiet yourself first.
Finding time for a short walk or a few quiet moments alone in my bedroom allowed me to deal with my stress from the homeschooling day before tackling the bedtime routine with my children. As I released my problems to the Lord and calmed my own heart, my patience level rose, and my emotions were better able to deal with my children's needs for love and affection.

Make the transition to bedtime easier.
Bedtime became much less stressful when I stopped expecting my children to immediately drop everything and get ready for bed on my orders. Whether playing with toys, enjoying a game, or working on a homeschool project, they balked at the unwanted change. Giving them ample warning before it was time to go to bed allowed my children to better adjust and prepare. Sometimes we counted down to bedtime with the timer on the kitchen stove, but mostly I gave a 15-30 minutes heads up to get ready to wind down for the day. In addition, transitioning to bedtime was much easier when we consistently ate supper on time at 5:30 or 6 p.m. and avoided high-energy activities and snacks later in the evening.

Establish a regular bedtime routine.
Our homeschool family experienced more victories at nighttime with a consistent bedtime ritual. Knowing they needed at least ten hours of sleep or more to be alert and functional the next day, we negotiated with our children and choose 8:30 p.m. as the magic hour to be in bed with lights off at 9 p.m. Prior to that, we included a relaxing bath time, a bedtime story read out loud, Christian children's music, discussion about the day, back rubs, prayers, and of course, lots of hugs, kisses, and words of affirmation.

Be flexible.
Although a regular bedtime schedule benefits both parents and children, we learned to be adaptable on weekends when guests stayed later than expected or special church activities and social outings kept us from getting to bed on time. We realized we didn't need to sweat the small stuff. Getting to bed 15-30 minutes later now and then wasn't going to hurt.

Create an environment conducive to sleeping.
Making sure our children's rooms were quiet, dark, and free from distractions such as TVs, computers, and noisy toys was also important. We did use small night lights to eliminate any fear of darkness and insisted on quiet voices once they climbed into bed. Plus, when we needed the space and had to have more than one child sleeping in a room, we found it helpful to put one child to bed before the other.

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