The bedtime routine that changed our lives during Social Isolation

You guys, I have to tell you the best thing we did for our marriage, my mental health, and our kids.... we jumped back into a bedtime routine again. 
This Social Isolation thing threw me into a tailspin in the beginning and I had to find a way to be able to fit in some self care so we all came out of it alive!! Kidding... sort of! 
As we mamas are all aware it is hard to be home with the kids sometimes, especially when we are with them 24/7. When they announced that we would be needing to home school for at least two weeks, I jumped into action. I had been wanting to implement things back into our lives that got lost in the busyness so this was the perfect time.
An actual bedtime routine is something we honestly haven't done since gosh, our first or second baby. When on earth do we fall into the busy trap and until we are forced to slow down, we don't see how far we've gone?! I mean yes, there are worse things in life, but it's funny how quickly habits fade when they aren't fully ingrained in our daily lives + nurtured. It follows a quote I heard the other day of the things that are easiest are also the first to be neglected. 
Let's get back to this bedtime thang because for us it is working so well and I hope it will work for you too. My hubs guides elk hunts in the fall and is gone for six weeks which started the 7:30pm bedtime saga. However, as our kids have gotten older and especially our girls, it has been hard to talk them into complying! 
One thing that I have found all my kids love is reading so I took full advantage of the situation + I don't know why I didn't do this sooner! 
My girls always have a book that they are reading and although we aren't in school right now, we have a stash of chapter books that we've accumulated over the years as well as picture books for the younger kids.
 
One thing I have also noticed about my kids + I think this is probably the same for most is the fact that they thrive on some sort of structure. We have been flying by the seat of our pants for several years and when I had to start home schooling, I knew more structure was needed. 
 
What I saw when we started implementing a little more structure, the tantrums lessened and they seemed to be able to handle things better emotionally. Don't get me wrong, once school is done, typically around noon or one, they do get a free afternoon to play. I haven't completely flown off the rocker and scheduled out our entire days.
 
I also try to squeeze my work in while they are doing school and spend a little more time with them in the afternoon as well. I feel that this has been a good change for all of us. 
Let me show you the bedtime routine that has worked for us: 
If we are home, I will have two of my kids take a quick shower before dinner and the others wait until morning. Believe me, this doesn't happen every night! 
 
We generally eat around 6:30-7pm during a normal week... during the summer will be a different story, but for now this is working. 
When we finish dinner the kids brush their teeth and choose a story for me to read out loud + one they take to bed with them. I read the story to them, we tuck them in, and then they get 30 minutes of "quiet time" in their beds with their book. 
Right now the sun is setting around 8pm so I tell them when they are out of light, it's time to sleep. Do you ever feel like you just want someone else to tell your kids what they need to do so you don't have to? I know I do so I let the sun do it for me! It's one less "command" they may feel like they are getting from me.
My two youngest are so good at going to bed, but my older girls do have to be reminded from time to time when they start jumping around in their room, but hey, at least the hubs and I get our time right?!
It's nothing spectacular, but allowing them to have some time for themselves as well as the hubs and I getting time for ourselves at the end of the day has been a refreshing change. 
During the summer, we tend to let them have "trampoline time" outside before bed. It's not the perfect system, but hey, we do what we gotta do right?!
I sure hope this helps give you some ideas that you can implement in your lives as we are on the journey of motherhood! 
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