I’m going to be completely honest: Justin and I need time alone each day without interruption from our children. It’s not that we don’t enjoy having my girls around, quite the opposite in fact, but sometimes we need to have a conversation that little ears don’t participate in.
Something Had To Give
I wanted to title this post something along the line of “Freedom and Happiness Awaits” because, when the girls first came to live with us (at ages 4 and 5), Justin and I went from being alone together all the time for six years prior, to never being able to have a conversation without interruption. In the evenings, when we were tired and ready for some time together, there was no shortage of interruptions and we were quickly becoming frustrated, overwhelmed, and even a bit resentful.
Bedroom Time: Your New Favorite Time of Day
Knowing something had to give, we came up with the idea we now affectionately refer to as “bedroom time” and have since found the freedom of togetherness in our home, without the constant barrage of kid interruptions.
How It Works
The idea behind bedroom time is fairly simple but varies a little depending on the age of the child. Initially, our oldest (age 6) wouldn’t stop getting out of bed. She didn’t want to go to sleep, so she thought she should come out and ask random questions so that she wouldn’t have to go to sleep.
Honestly, I got tired of telling her to go back to bed, so one night we took an unusual approach: I told her that she didn’t have to go to bed if she didn’t want, but if she came out of her bedroom for anything other than an emergency, she would have to go to sleep.
I was nervous, but it worked!
Sure, the first night she stayed up well into the night…and then told us the next morning that she was scared because it was dark outside and decided to sleep with the light on. (We had a good laugh about that one.)
The following night, though, she’d determined that, while she wanted to stay up for a while, she also wanted to have someone tuck her in (and turn the light off…).
We made it clear that if she wanted someone to tuck her in, she’d have to actually go to sleep after that happened. She agreed, and we set a reasonable “tuck in” time, gave her about an hour for her own “bedroom time” and it worked like a charm.
…and six years later, it still does.
Bedroom Time Guidelines
For us, unless something “unusual” is taking place, the girls give all their hugs, get their drinks of water, and head off to their bedrooms between 6:30 and 7:00 each night. They still have the option to have someone come tuck them in, but as they’ve grown, they’ve started to tuck themselves in at the appropriate time.
They are allowed to play QUIETLY, read books, or essentially do whatever they want to do in their rooms until their designated bedtime (usually between 7:30 and 8:00). I’ll be honest, my kids love to read, so that’s normally what they are doing.
If they come out of their rooms for anything other than an emergency, they lose their bedroom time immediately and are sent straight to bed. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule for things like broken alarm clocks and the need to use the restroom, but overall, the girls adhere to this guideline.
If they don’t go to sleep when they are supposed to, their bedtime is moved up by 30 minutes for the next week.
It seems strict, but we haven’t had any problems and they rarely go to bed early.
Of course, we wouldn’t still be using bedroom time in our home if it didn’t come with benefits for all involved. Some of those benefits include the following:
- Due to the consistency of bedroom time, the girls know exactly what to expect at the end of each and every day and it becomes something they look forward to.
- It allows Justin and me to have time to ourselves to watch a movie, have a conversation, or balance our budget, and having that time together means that we can be more attentive to the needs of our family the following day.
- It also allows the girls to have their own time to relax, unwind from the day, and get ready for sleep.
- The girls also have the ability to choose to go to sleep earlier (if they are feeling extra tired) because we haven’t filled up their evening right up until the time they sleep. Honestly, that’s something they have both chosen to do on many occasions.
The girls have grown to LOVE bedroom time to the point that I often have to remind our youngest (now age 10) that she can’t go to bedroom time at 5:30 because she still needs to participate in the family time as well. Sometimes she’s in the middle of a book or writing a story and can’t wait to get that time to herself.
One Final Perk:
Justin and I routinely host game nights at our place. We’ve always been grateful that our friends are willing to come to us, rather than having to pay for a babysitter, but when the girls head off for bedroom time, we don’t hear anything from them again, so the adult conversation and fun can take place without worry.
Is Bedroom Time for Your Family?
If you are contemplating implementing this practice in your own family, just know that it doesn’t have to be a big ordeal, but it can make a huge difference in your relationship with your spouse long-term.
Without a doubt, we knew that bedroom time was the right choice for us. Bedroom time has changed as the girls have grown, but I’m looking forward to using it well into their high school years, even when their bedtimes are a bit later than they are now.
Tip: In addition to the consistency of bedroom time, we also have a schedule for chores and other household tasks that keeps the kids in a routine. Grab your FREE copy HERE.