This week Andi and I thought it would be fun to share our top five tips on how we get our kids to bed early while planning a date night in for our sweeties. It seems like a no brainer but after quite a few trial and errors I have found that being preparing AND preparing the kids seems to help the evening go much smoother.
1. Tell them the plan :: I always try to make sure and tell our older two boys (age 3 & 4) early on in the day if possible that tonight is going to be a date night for Mommy and Daddy. It helps them prepare a bit, especially my four year old who likes to know the plan and feels much more comfortable knowing how the day will unfold. It's also a really great way to share with them how important it is for Mommy and Daddy to spend some nice quiet alone time together. Even if they don't say it I know that they are both taking in this information at this early stage. I feel good knowing that they see how important our marriage is to us - I know that my children feel so much more secure and happy knowing that their parents love each other.
2. Let the kids help with preparations for the date night :: Although my boys don't really get super into me getting all fancy and dressed up for Daddy (except they do notice nail polish :)) I am sure my little girl will love being a part of this part when she gets a bit older. But Simon and Levi have been learning how to build an awesome fire from their Father the past few months so they have been super excited about building our date night fires with Chris. Also setting the table, lighting the candles, helping make dessert...getting them involved helps them to understand that it is a really important and special event.
3. Put pajama's on early in the evening :: before Daddy arrives home. Even for baby Josie - everyone ready for bed early means no scrambling and mess making right before bed time.
4. Plan something special for the kids to eat too :: Something super easy, yummy and what they really love makes the date night special for them too - (chicken fingers and fries or pizza are big hits over here). Serve it up early, right after you get pajamas on and before Daddy gets home is a big bonus time saver. I will even let them watch a special show during dinner allowing me to finish up prep for the adult meal or feed and get Josie ready for bed.
5. Offer them a special reward :: A tip from Chris - he is always the one who gets up early with the boys and makes breakfast. He likes to tell the boys during bedtime kisses and prayers about something they can look forward to in the morning. Maybe plan an extra special breakfast of pancakes or french toast as a reward for going to bed early and giving Mom and Dad some quiet time together. This has also worked out perfectly for me because the last few date nights I have ended up with a pretty sweet breakfast in bed the next morning myself. I know not all husbands have the time for this last one but even rewarding the kids with a board game or bike ride the next day or an extra star on the star chart for a job well done could be just the little reward needed to help them go to bed early and not disturb Mom and Dad.
And what about you, what are you sure fire ways to get the kids in bed early? I would love to hear more ideas in the comment section and make sure to go check out Andi's five tips too!