Redeem Your Kid’s Bedtime Routine

I remember hearing parents talk about bedtime routines. I obviously do not remember participating in one as a young child, but I do remember my parents making a point to pray with us when we were a little older. However, not many parents seem to speak of these routines as fun or special. They are mostly spoke of as a grind. When my wife and I were expecting our first child, I remember going over to my cousin’s house to visit. They had two toddlers at the time, both boys. We got to witness full on bedtime routine. Bath, potty, teeth brushing, bed preparations, read a story, pray, kiss, hug, whole nine yards. When we were walking out I asked my cousin, “do you do this same thing every night?” He replied with one eyebrow raised, “Every. Night.”

That was my experience with the routine. Selfishly, I was not excited for that to be my future. So my wife and I discussed it quite a bit leading up to our first child entering the toddler years. We decided in order to maximize our time in the evening together without kids, we were going to have an extremely short routine consisting of a prayer, hug, kiss and done. We executed it well for a while. Then the routine grab started. Let me tell you something every parent knows: Kids LOVE routine. If you sing a song to them one night, they will ask for it the next night. Rub their back to help them calm down to sleep? You better be ready to do it tomorrow too. On and on it goes. Being the black and white guy I am, I was prepared and ready to stomp out any routine grabbing from my first daughter.

Soon we were expecting another little girl. About the time she was approaching toddler phase, we realized two things at the same time. First, our short little routine thing only worked because our first daughter was an AMAZING sleeper. Our second daughter? Not so much. It got to the point with her that we were trying to CREATE a routine to get her to bed. The second thing we noticed, was that our oldest daughter, and most any toddler we encountered in our circles, was amazing at memorization. We had fooled around with memorizing some Bible verses at Christmas, and our oldest daughter (3 at the time) memorized a fairly difficult verse from Isaiah with ease. Next we stepped up the game with some catechisms, and she devoured them too.

About a month ago it hit me after I read an article on family devotions, these two realizations could work together to create the thing we initially feared: A Bedtime Routine. So we did it and it has been amazing.

Starting about a month ago, we decided to start reading one chapter per night of the Jesus Storybook Bible, an outstanding children’s Bible I cannot recommend highly enough. After that we put the kids in the bed (4 year old and 2 year old in the same room) and started saying the Lord’s Prayer together. We started by saying a short bit of it (Our father…..who art in heaven) and the kids would repeat it back. A week or so into it, our 4 year old was sitting with me in church and after scripture was read, asked me if that was the same thing we read about in our Bible at night. Then two weeks into our new routine, our 4 year old stopped us before we started the Lord’s Prayer and asked if she could try it herself. We looked at each other a tad confused, wondering if she was seriously about to do this. We said yes, and she said the entire Lord’s Prayer without missing a single word! Not two weeks later, our 2 year old did the same thing!

I tell you all this because of the joy my wife and I have in putting our kids to bed now. The potty and brushing teeth thing is still a grind, but getting to sit and read God’s Word to your kids and watch them memorize scripture and prayers so quick is one of the most rewarding things we have ever done with our kids. Tomorrow we will finish the Jesus Storybook Bible, and the kids are already asking what is next. We are going to start our next book, and start working on memorizing Psalm 23.

If you hate bedtime and the routine it brings, I highly encourage you to take advantage of your kid’s desire for routine and their memorization skills. The redeeming of bedtime will have lasting effects not just on them, but on you and your spouse.

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