Make It Magical: Bedtime

8 pm.

It’s the time I read my precious children a storybook, gently sing a lullaby and we softly say heavenly, inspired prayers.  And then my sweet, little ones lay their head on their pillows and gently drift off to sleep.

Ha.

Here is how bedtime usually goes down:  I’m exhausted.  My husband’s exhausted.  We hastily clean up dinner and throw the kids in the bath.  After a quick reading of scripture (emphasis on the quick) and prayer, we send them off to bed.  Sometimes, I’m so tired, I don’t even make it to tuck in each kid.  I just throw out a blanket “love you” and call it good.

I know I can do better.

Can’t you feel the potential for magic in bedtime?  It’s like small embers, smoldering, just waiting to be ignited.  The world quiets, the sky darkens, responsibilities slow, and it’s just my family, settling for the night.

It’s there.  I just need to find a way to light it.

So, this past month, I’ve been experimenting.  And researching.  And trying to improve.  The good news?  It’s easier than we think.

Here is the secret to making bedtime magical: TIME.  To quote one of my favorite religious leaders:

“In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time.  Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home.”  -Dieter Utchdorf

I’m not suggesting that bedtime become a major, time-consuming process.  I’m suggesting that a small chunk of QUALITY time at bedtime, will yield huge results and create that magic we’re looking for.

An example from my home.  My oldest has blasted into the “tween” era.  Holy smokes.  It has been a roller coaster of emotions and learning for both of us.  (I’m currently working my way through a pile of “How To Parent a Tween” books.  If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear about it.)

But this month, I began to take a few minutes every night, to stop by her bed, look into her eyes and ask what went well today? and why did that go well?  (you all know how I feel about those questions.  Click here if you don’t) 🙂

This only takes 5 minutes every night.  But we are closer.  Communication has improved.  And she seems a bit more positive and stable.  I call that magic.

The fun part of this magic, though, is how unique it can be for each family (or even each child).  Your kids might not like the “what went well” questions, but what if you got an astronomy book and every night before bed you went outside and found one new constellation?  Or:

  • Youtubed how to make a new shadow puppet every night;
  • Looked at your child’s photo album and told a story each night from a picture;
  • Made up silly stories while using a flashlight;
  • Crawl into bed like a lion with your toddler;
  • Had a special parent/child journal that you passed to each other daily (a post is coming about this soon!);
  • Had one special song for each kid that you sing while tucking them in;
  • Read one chapter from a nonfiction book about something your child wants to learn;
  • Set a timer and just snuggled in bed together for a few minutes;
  • Tell each child something they did that day that you were proud of;
  • Dog-piled all together on the couch while someone reads aloud;
  • If you’re short on time, assign each child one day of the week and let them pick a bedtime activity to do with the parents for 15 minutes.

The possibilities are limitless.

Here is my suggestion to make bedtime magical:

  1. Keep a good routine.  I know every night can’t be perfect, but try to be consistent.  Set an alarm on your phone to go off when you want your bedtime routine to start.  Then go through a set routine:  clean up, bath, brush teeth, prayer, scriptures (or whatever is needed  in your home.)
  2. Add the magic (TIME)  And seriously, this does not need to be major amounts of time.  Even just 10 minutes works.  Look through the list above or brainstorm your own idea and spend a few minutes, fully focused on your child.  The magic will come.

I’d love to hear your ideas and how they work for you!  Comment below if you’d like to share.