How to make “bedtime” the best part of your family’s day

Dave and Ashley Willis family pic new baby

In the Willis household, everyone’s least favorite part of the day has been “Bedtime.”

No matter how wonderful the day has been up until bedtime, our drama-filled nightly routine can undo those happy feelings in a heartbeat. There’s often screaming, crying, pleading and tantrums (and that’s just what I’m doing)!

We’ve tried nearly everything imaginable to made bedtime better, but nothing has seemed to work.

A few nights ago, I decided to try a different approach. I realized that I had been fueling the negative tone at bedtime by giving a lot of correction and barking orders, but if I wanted to set a more positive tone, I needed to start with more positive words.

I called a “Family Meeting” where we all sat in the living room and I said that we’d be doing something different before bedtime. I explained that family’s need to encourage on another. We need to build each other up. We were going to go around the room before bed and each family member had to say something they loved and appreciated about everyone else in the group. I volunteered to go first.

Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already. Dave Willis quote

 

I said something like, “Ashley, you’re the best wife and mommy in the world. You’re the heart of this home and I love you so much. Cooper, you’re such a strong leader. I love how you protect your younger brothers and teach them new things. Connor, you have such a big heart. I love how much you care about everyone. Chandler, you’re so brave. I love how you always jump in and try new things. Chatham, you’re the cutest baby ever. You also produce an exceptional amount of poop.” 

(I get a guaranteed laugh from the other boys with any ‘poop’ reference. I’ve changed so many diapers, I’m considering writing a book about my life and calling it ‘American Wiper‘!) 

Everyone took turns after that sharing some compliments and encouragement with each other. We said a prayer and all went upstairs to bed. It was the first time in as long as I can remember that there was peace instead of chaos surrounding bedtime. It reminded me of the power of our words and it reminded me of these important instructions from the Bible:

“So encourage each other and build each other up” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29

Let encouragement set a positive tone in your home (and not just at bedtime)!

One positive tradition we’ve had with bedtime for a long time is our nightly Bedtime Story. It’s the only time all day I have the boys’ full, undivided attention, so I try to make the most of it. I usually tell the boys a story with some kind of lesson built into it. You can read one of their favorites about “Doug the Slug” by clicking here.

For ongoing encouragement to help your whole family, please connect with me on Facebook by clicking here.

You can also subscribe to my email list and connect with me on twitter by clicking here.

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  • Guest

    First, I want to say that from the little I’ve seen of what you and Ashley have said, I think very highly of you two and it sounds like there is never a dull moment in your family :) I am a father of three boys and am very interested in what you both have to say, and you all seem like great people that I would like to meet some day.

    While I feel strongly that it is important to build other people up, it reminds me of an unsettling story I heard about a father and two daughters. I don’t know if it’s real or not, but in this story a father tells one daughter “you’re smart”, and he tells the other daughter “you’re pretty”. The first daughter thought “does that mean I’m not pretty?”, and the second one thought “does that mean I’m not smart?” This will likely be a non-issue for many kids, but I feel there’s always that potential for unintended poor consequences.

    I think those who are more prone to jealousy may be better suited to receiving compliments on a more individual basis more in private, or maybe it’s good to only compliment one person at a time in a group setting. But I can also see the value in everyone being complimented together in a group, too, so I’m not sure what to think.