Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Bedtime Routine

One of the most valuable lessons I learned growing up is that a bedtime routine is vital to the overall contentment of kids, and that when you travel it's important to keep that routine as closely as possible. In addition to the contentment factor, it helps make any new place home. So to say the least, we've kept to our routine as closely as possible here in Guadalajara.

Jon, do you know the verse yet?
For us, the routine evolved about the time our eldest daughter Keren was five. She'd received The Jesus Storybook Bible for her birthday, and I started reading it to her and Clare (who was two, so maybe didn't get much out of it!) just before bedtime. A few nights after we had started, I had to do something else at bedtime, so Kraig took over. From that point on, he was the main bedtime reader, and I think our lives have been richer as a result. It has become a whole-family event.

We've continued the pattern of some sort of devotional book, but as the kids got older we added in chapter books so we could introduce them to old favorites of ours. Our first series was Little House on the Prairie followed by The Chronicles of Narnia. Since then we've explored everything from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett to Three Go Searching by Patricia St. John. Last spring we enjoyed Jonathan Rogers' The Wilderking Trilogy and before coming to Guadalajara we started into The Chronicles of Narnia again since Ev and Jon were old enough to enjoy those. Devotionals have ranged from our staple Jesus Storybook, to Ruth Bell Graham's Stepping Into the Bible and a couple others.

Ev realizes Peter, Lucy, Edmund & Susan
are in The Horse and His Boy.
After stories are read, the kids hop into bed, Kraig prays with them, and one of them chooses music. We have a calendar with the order of which kid gets prayed with first and who picks music. This is serious business, and great wailing and gnashing of teeth can result in not holding to this pattern. Then there are multiple hugs, at which point I'm called in, too. Final questions are asked. One or more of the kids emerge from their room with a tale of woe or a question: "My mosquito bite itches!" "I need a drink!" "Why did the so-and-so do such-and-such in the story?". But thankfully they're all usually out cold within half-an-hour of lights-out.

Cars! (And books)
I'd love to say my children sit and listen angelically to the devotional reading and story time. They do love the stories, this is true. But they are squirrelly human beings, so some nights go more smoothly than others. Kraig has a hard, fast rule that they need to sit and listen to the devotional reading, but things loosen up a bit for the chapter book and the kids sometimes color or play with cars or LEGO during that. This has been particularly helpful with Jon (can we say "boy"?). Some nights they are threatened with early endings when they get too wound up, and that typically results in cries of "No! We'll listen!" I usually want to add my voice, because I want to hear the stories. Thankfully, it's a rare occurrence for the routine to be disrupted, probably because Kraig wants to hear the stories himself, and none of us want the tears of anguish that result from interruption of the routine.

Each night is a gift. It is one more stroke on the canvas that is our family, and one more paint dob that makes each house we live in a home.

Distracting evening views....


  1. a beautiful routine... a beautiful gift.

  2. Heidi Jo7:58 AM

    My favorite line in this was "great wailing and gnashing of teeth can result in not holding to this pattern". THIS is truth we know well in our home :) Routine is a tool in our parenting toolbox that is God-designed and as you're showing us here, can be used ANYWHERE to create a foundation and coming-together place. Praying for you.

    1. Thanks Heidi! And I love how you put it that the routine is God-designed. I think that's why I never want it to be interrupted even if the kids are squirrelly; stopping it doesn't seem to be the best solution to stopping their behavior.