How do we manage bedtime with seven kids? We try to have a regular routine, but we waver from it sometimes. We Superman bathes the boys around 7:00 or 7:30. This is usually the immediate step after dinner. It keeps them from getting too riled up after they have had some quiet time (or at least our version of quiet). If they do play any before bath, it has to be in their bedroom, where they are more contained. The bigger house has been nice, and we love it when it is clean, but clean, open space is apparently an invitation to our boys for wild running around the house! Once bathtime is finished, the boys go to their room with Superman to put on pajamas. Earnhart has eczema, so he has a long cream and lotion routine to calm his skin. They come in to give me kisses goodnight, sometimes taking a sneaky detour, but for the most part, the bedtime routine is pretty, well, routine at this point. They lay down on Smiley’s bed, the bottom bunk of our cool IKEA bunk beds, and they tell stories. They start “Once upon a time…” and end with “The End.” Superman goes first, and then the two boys take their turns. When Bulldozer finally starts conversing with us, I’m sure he’ll jump in, too! What’s cute about this is the way Smiley first started telling his stories. He would start with “Once upon a time…” and then completely lose it with giggles and smiles! Now, he tells a story that includes everyone, a few monsters, and some cars or trains. After stories, they sing a song or two, give kisses, and Superman leaves a noisemaker on to white noise and cracks the door. Once they fall asleep, we close the door. When they don’t fall asleep, and someone unnamed, yet incredibly cute, gets out of bed and protests at the door or from the hallway, we simply ignore him. If he comes into the living room, we carry him back to his bed, over and over, if necessary. This, however, has become a rare occasion, and has more to do with being overtired, having too full of a day, or experiencing a major change in routine. Smiley doesn’t do this too much anymore, but he is a light sleeper and is usually the one that winds up in our bed in the middle of the night. He and Earnhart are also teeth-grinders, which I can’t stand. When that happens, I HAVE to leave the room!
Now that the girls are bigger, bedtime is a bit easier with them. They take care of their baths or showers, depending on the time frame, and get pajamas on. They usually hang out with us in the living room for a bit and then go down to their bedroom (a finished room in our basement). They keep the light on and visit and talk while laying in their beds, and the light goes off at 9:00. They usually talk a little longer to fall asleep, but they are usually out in this order: Mary Lou, Cowgirl, and then Picasso. Picasso is a night owl, and she usually makes a few trips up the stairs with an issue or complaint, but I really think it’s just to get a few minutes alone with us where our attention is completely on her. She has never complained about sharing us with so many, but her love language is time, and she loves getting that all to herself from anyone, especially her mom and dad.
That is how we manage bedtime. Please understand that this works for us for now. We have experienced many changes in sleeping patterns, habits, and physical arrangements. With a new baby, I’m sure some of this could change. We roll with it, and we feel like you have to do whatever you have to do to get sleep. I’m not usually thrilled when a kid (or 3) wind up in the bed with us at night. I love snuggling in the morning, but I don’t sleep well with them in the bed at night. Some nights, I fight it, while other nights, I just swap beds with that kid. When the guest bed is made up (who would want to be a guest here?), I crash there. It’s the matresses my in-laws gave us our first Christmas after we married, and it’s my favorite bed! Superman prefers the nice, big king sized bed over the full, but I like the little one best. Most nights, I just sleep wherever I can. Recliner- yep. Couch- why not? Bed- yes sir!