Tuesday, September 21, 2010

$150 contest - -making 7:30-8:30pm the magic hour and not the witching hour **contest closed**

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and the makers of One A Day Multivitamins.

In the past, bedtime for three young boys has been something of a disaster. It went a little bit like this:

"Ok, it's a commercial, go brush your teeth!"
2 out of 3 kids go running off.

"Get your clothes out for tomorrow!"
1 might follow this one.

"Go potty one last time!"
("but Mom, I haven't finished brushing my teeth yet")

"Who brushed their teeth? You left the toothpaste out!"
("I haven't done mine yet")

"Where is your backpack?"
("Mom, I forgot I was supposed to have you fill this out and send in $5")

"What was that?"
("I dropped all the cups when I went to get a drink of water.")

"Did you guys take showers tonight?"
("Can't I do it in the morning?")

"Whose toothbrush is still dry?"

"Whose clothes are all over the floor?"

"Why are you in the backyard???!"

"Shoot, the show's back on, let's finish at the next commercial..."

And so on and so on.

The first thing I learned these past few months, is for heavens sake, to shut the TV off. With kiddos' bed times at 8 and 8:30, there's just no way to get invested in a show and still get everything done that needs doing.

As soon as school got back into session in August, and bedtimes became more stringent, we started a new schedule that works really well.

We start at 7:30. The TV goes OFF. While child #1 takes his shower, I work with the younger two on brushing teeth, bathroom visits, last drinks of water, and then with remaining time, we read fun books out loud. This is also the time for getting clothes ready for the next day and putting backpacks in place (with snack if I remember).

The longer they take, the lesser time for fun reading. It's really up to them how they want to use their time. Once they're done, the three of us sit and read, sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for 20, but up until about 7:50.

With the younger two prepped and the oldest out of the shower, we all gather around for some scripture study and family prayer. This is a staple. If nothing else, we do this every night. Sometimes we read 10 verses, sometimes it's a chapter--whatever we're needing at the time, but we won't skip. We take turns each day saying the family prayer. We kiss, we hug, we say personal prayers, and kids #2 and #3 are done for the night. No excuses, stay in bed, 8:00 curfew.

Then Child #1 gets some reading time. Normally I'd let him read silently in his room, but he really likes reading together with Mom, and he's happened to pick a rather lengthy book at present that I prefer to edit slightly, so I'm reading out loud to him too. At 8:30, he too gets kissed and sent off to bed.

After 8:30, I can look around my house and see that backpacks are ready, kids are in bed with clothes ready for the next day, and I take a few minutes to otherwise clean up. I get the dishwasher started, maybe fold a load of laundry, and the Mommy day is complete.

In the past, that hour of bedtime prep has been done with a lot of yelling, reminding, scolding, whining, and otherwise going-to-bed-angry--from me and the kids. Having this routine and evening schedule, the kids know what is expected of them and things run smoothly. We stick as close to the routine as possible, and it's made going back to school time much smoother and effortless. When the kids wake in the morning, clothes and backpacks are ready and there's not too much to stress about, which makes the 6:30-7:30 am hour much nicer as well.

We all have more or less stressful times in our day, whether it be the dinner-prep hour or the immediate hour after school gets out, there are times when everything is happening at once, and all of a sudden the living room can look like the remains from a fallout shelter. We are creatures of habit, and as a rule, generally like knowing what to expect each day, know what is expected of us, and so on.

How do you plan your days? Some people use planner books or agendas, have big wall calendars or to-do lists. I've seen families use giant white boards to detail the hours of the day and what is expected when. One such tool that can help you keep organized and on track, especially during this busy back-to-school season, is the My Tree Tool from the makers of One A Day Multivitamins. The site helps you make goals and outline when you're going to accomplish them, be it daily, weekly, etc.

I used this to prioritize 3 things at the start of this Fall: Spirituality, Health, and Relationships. I can schedule and track how often we read our scriptures together, how many times a week we want to exercise together as a family outside, and set a plan to read to my kids every night. The tool offers some really insightful suggestions and ideas to implement your plans and goals. It may be just the thing you need to get life on track this season.

What do you use to keep your days and weeks on track? Answer in the comments for a chance at a $150 Visa gift card! Contest runs 9/21/10 through 10/21/10 and winner will be randomly chosen and contacted by email, so make sure you leave a valid way to contact you.

There are 5 chances to win plus a chance at a bonus $100 by checking out the Exclusive Offers page. :) Read official rules for more info.

Don't forget to check out my blog, Life with the Boys.