Bedtimes I believe with any child, but especially adopted children who have had unstable pasts, structure and routine are HUGE. Because of this, any time we add in a new family member our routine becomes a major priority so that we can help the child(ren) feel empowered to know what to expect next. With all of the new changes and with their little lives feeling out of their control - I feel this is the best thing we can do for them- to let them know they are safe and that everything is going to be ok. They quickly feel confident and know that food will be served to them at certain times, that they get to play at certain times, we have bath time, clean up time, chore time (which lets them know they are a team player and a real part of the family) and also when bed times are. Sleep is another MAJOR factor. Even as an adult when I am tired everything seems so much worse, so much harder and so much more overwhelming. After a good nights sleep-even when things are not going to be easy- I feel like they are a lot more manageable. Our kids are the same way. Also, I know for my sanity I need some times when my brain is still functioning to have time to myself. So, one thing we have always, always done is have early bed times. It helps our kids concentrate in school better (I’ve heard stories from my kids about other kids who constantly fall asleep in class) and helps them to feel more confident when they are well rested. I know that sometimes things happen and it is hard to get your child to bed on time- so we always start extra early. :0) Right after dinner (we eat early around here too- between 5 and 5:30) we go straight to bath time. (they all love bathes especially when there are bubbles!) After bath time we brush our teeth then head in for story time and family devotions. It is a big deal for all of us to sit in one room together for even 15 minutes each day (of course there are times when one of us are not able to be home to do this but we try our best). We do a short devotion and then the kids get to say any prayer request or praises they have. I have found that by doing this they bring up a lot of things that I don’t think they otherwise would have thought to tell me. It’s so awesome to see them come together, know they are supported and loved because we are all willing to listen and then pray for them. Even the new children have quickly learned what a great thing this is. After that the kids all head off to their rooms for bed time. If we are early then they can lay in their beds and look at a book if they want (or sometimes just talk and giggle) but they know it is time to start settling down for the night.
Someone asked how I get them to stay in their rooms- well, I found out another good thing about our one on one time. I told them that if they came out and interrupted someone else’s one on one time that they would be moved to the back of the list. Can I just tell you that for the first time- not ONE of them came out and asked for more water, another potty break or any other extremely creative idea they come up with to stay up later. :0) Yeah!
Tomorrow I’ll try to share some other things we are trying to stay organized with a large crew. And I wanted to say thank you or your encouraging comments. In the mist of all this craziness it really means a lot to me. I know we have a long way to go and a lot to learn but we are so thankful for you all and thankful that we can feel God’s hands all over us. (trust me, the one on one time idea came from Him!) :0)