My Secrets to a Peaceful Bedtime Without Yelling

I had the wonderful opportunity to actually, get this, sit down, drink a cup of hot coffee and hang out with a friend the other night. It was marvelous. Absolutely, marvelous. We covered all the basic gossip stories, you know would Kimye make it as a couple, what about Jen Garner and Ben Affleck, all the basic here’s what our kids are up to stories, mine finally potty trained, mine is still sick, and we covered all the basic how are yous, how are you feeling about work, about life, marriage, motherhood etc. And this is where we ended up talking about bedtime and how brutal it can be.

You see, I was on “vacation” and when I am on “vacation” with my kids, they NEVER ever go to sleep easily. Like never, ever! Did I mention, never, ever? I mean, it’s not like bedtime at home is a peace of cake but whoa is it easier than on “vacation.” Bedtime is simply a disaster on vacation because of all the, “I want to stay up late because you know it’s vacation mom,” and “I don’t want to share a room with all my brothers,” and “I don’t like the sheets at Grandma’s” and the “This room has weird shadows my room doesn’t.” And well, it is also a disaster because of the decrease in routine and increase in, eh hem, sugar and adrenaline.

Anywho, so we got talking about bedtime and my friend said,

“How the heck do you not yell at bedtime? I mean really. Does someone else do it for you?!”

My boys, just chilling, catching some rays. Can you imagine if bedtime was always this relaxed?!!

My boys, just chilling. Can you imagine if bedtime was always this relaxed?!!

Ha!!! Oh how sometimes I wish it were true. But it’s not. What is true though is that years ago, pre-The Orange Rhino Challenge, bedtime didn’t just use to make me yell at my kids, it used to make me scream. It was so stressful and anything but chill. And, it was the worst feeling to send my kids to bed almost every night with their hearts full of my anger, not my love. The absolute worst feeling in the world. Oh the guilt and shame. Blech! Thank goodness The Orange Rhino Challenge helped me identify bedtime as a trigger and pushed me to figure out how to manage it so that it wouldn’t be full of my yells. (My kids’ yells, well, that is almost always expected at bedtime!)

That night I shared with my girlfriend my secrets to not yelling at bedtime. Tonight, I share them with you, albeit in a way more formal manner and with way more detail, but hey, the main message is still there!

* * * * *

My biggest “secret” to not yelling at bedtime is that I finally, and fully, embraced and reminded myself of three Orange Rhino Revelations about sleeping that I learned on my journey to yell less:

  1. If I rush my boys at bedtime, it goes slower. Rushing is counterproductive.
  2. If I yell at my boys during bedtime, they cry, bedtime takes longer. Yelling is counterproductive.
  3. If I approach bedtime with a positive attitude, as opposed to dreading it, it not only goes faster and smoother, but it also becomes a very calm and special time.

These revelations keep me from yelling every night, as do these additional revelations and tips which are specific to my 5 top bedtime triggers.

Kids Dawdling and Not Doing Task At Hand
Orange Rhino Revelations: If I rush my boys, they will go slower. If I nag them, they will go slower. If I yell at them to hurry up, they will cry and definitely take longer. However, if I gently encourage them to complete their tasks so we can have more time to read books and snuggle, they proceed “faster.”

Orange Rhino Tips to Prevent Yelling:

  • Tell myself over and over again that if I rush bedtime, it goes slower.
  • Tell myself that yelling will only make dawdling more intense.
  • Take deep breaths to help me slow down so that I don’t put off a “go, go, go” vibe.
  • Use humor to diffuse the stress and connect with kids so they want to do what I ask. Talk like toothpaste is stuck to my teeth. Brush teeth with finger.
  • Walk away and just start reading a book; invite them to join you when they have finished their tasks.
  • Give in! “Okay, so no one wants to brush teeth. Lets sing instead for a few minutes and then we’ll do it.” Sometimes the power struggle isn’t worth it!

Parental Stress, Exhaustion, and Therefore Huge Desire for Personal Time
Orange Rhino Revelations: My quiet, relaxing downtime doesn’t need to start as soon as all the kids are asleep; I can start it at bedtime.

Orange Rhino Tips to Prevent Yelling:

  • Change into comfortable clothes to feel more chill.
  • Create a relaxing, quiet environment. Think spa! Turn the lights down. Light a spa candle. Listen to soothing music. Upside? It relaxes boys too, which helps bedtime go smoother!
  • (again) Tell myself that letting my stress and exhaustion push me to yell will just upset the kids which will make them move slower and will upset me more and make me yell more and will greatly delay getting to my personal time.

Bathwater (and Toothpaste!) Going Everywhere
Orange Rhino Revelations: Perspective is a powerful tool. When I can put things into perspective, I realize that yelling isn’t necessary and that again, it will make matters worse.

Orange Rhino Tips to Prevent Yelling:

  • Use my “at least” technique to find perspective and calm, i.e., “At least it is just water and not sticky orange juice spraying everywhere,” “At least the water is on the tile bathroom floor and not the carpeted bedroom floor.” And the big one I use, “At least I have this special time at the end of the day to connect with my kids before they go off to sleep.” This last one really helps me to re-focus on what matters.
  • Put preventative measures in place: put towels down, wear an apron to keep clothes dry, do push-ups (or any exercise) while kids bathe as exercise creates positive energy and prepares me to handle the annoyance with more calm.

Asking for One More Thing, One Hundred Times!
Orange Rhino Revelation: When my kids ask for one more thing, it isn’t because they need one more cracker, one more book, or one more sip of water, it is because they want one more minute with me. If I give them that minute in a totally focused, calm, loving way, there will not only be less requests after, but also, I will then feel more comfortable being firm with the bedtime rules as I was just extra loving.

Orange Rhino Tips to Prevent Yelling:

  • Find empathy. I put myself in their “shoes” (mind) and remember that when I was a kid, I did the same thing. This softens my heart and lets me give the connection to my kids they crave.
  • Offer a hug as a substitution; it will make everyone feel better.
  • Take a break. Walk away and yell into a closet. Clothes don’t have feelings, kids do.
  • If possible, tag out and have someone else help with bed.

The Unspoken Trigger: Approaching bedtime with dread and a negative attitude
Orange Rhino Revelations: Negative attitudes attract negative actions; when I approach the bedtime hour with grumpiness, the kids sense it and act grumpy right back which makes me yell. When I embrace bedtime with a positive approach, I am less distracted, more present, and we all enjoy bedtime more – it actually becomes a special time.

Orange Rhino Tips to Prevent Yelling:

  • Change attitude from, “I just want this hour over,” to “YES! Let’s get this hour started. It’s a great last chance of the day to enjoy my kids and show them my love before I don’t see them for 12 hours.”
  • Embrace the challenge of bedtime. “Yep! Bedtime is going to be hard. I know it. I accept it. I will not be surprised or annoyed when it is. I will just go with it.”
  • Talk positively to self, “I can do this. It is just 45 minutes. I have had successful bedtimes, I can do this one.”
  • Fake it until you make it! Smile lots. Laugh lots. Say “Bedtime rocks,” and “I love bedtime” lots.

So much for sharing one “secret” to a peaceful bedtime, eh? Well since I already shared a zillion, here’s one more. Bedtime in The Orange Rhino house still isn’t perfect as a result of all of the above, but it is a heck of a lot, and I mean heck of lot easier to not yell at bedtime than it was before and it is way more, way, way more quiet and peaceful!

The book!Bedtime isn’t my only yelling trigger 😉 That would be too easy! If you would like to learn about my other major triggers, as well as my solutions to them, check out my new book “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids–and How You Can too!” It is a 30-day guide with honest stories to inspire, 100 alternatives to yelling and simple steps to follow. It hits shelves this October but you can pre-order it now to ensure that you get one of the lowest prices and that you have it when I start a guided 30-day Challenge this fall! Click here to pre-order!  

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6 thoughts on “My Secrets to a Peaceful Bedtime Without Yelling

  1. Thank you! I wish I had read this before entering our late bedtime tonight! Would you mind sharing your bedtime routine? I really think I need to try to lay out some expectation and boundaries, just needing some guidance! I am a mother of 5 boys and Dad works a crazy schedule! Sometimes he’s here to help out but sometimes he’s not!
    Thanks Again,
    Heather

    • Hi Heather! Thanks for reading! So here is our bedtime routine. My husband works late so he is never here for out. The one thing I have working for me is that my kids wake at 5:30 so they are usually wiped come 6:00 and ready for bed! 5:00 dinner. No electronics after except on weekends (it just wound them up and made one more difficult transition.) After dinner chores (take our garbage, recycling, fill dishwasher, clean basement. They rotate.) I do this because it is “heavy work” and actually calms them down, plus, I need the help! 6:00 – 6:30 bath time. It takes that long with all the dilly dallying! 620ish books all together with younger 3, older reads to self. All kids to rooms at 6:40ish and then I tuck each in one by one. Hope that helps!

  2. These are some fantastic hands-on tips! I found that my getting angry about anything is counterproductive to my ultimate goal of loving my kids. There are still days that it is easier said than done, that is for sure. But when I realized my anger was because I was being selfish, I changed. Being a parent is about taking care of someone else, and like you said, when you give good, focused time and attention to them, they know it, and respond positively. Here are some things I learned about changing my attitude to a calm, loving mother instead of the angry one. http://heavennotharvard.com/2014/07/28/temper-tantrums/

  3. I had by far the worst bedtime experience to date with my boys tonight (my husband is a cop and works overnights so it’s all on me). My patience was fried, they weren’t listening and I ended up just screaming at them both. This post came at the right time. Thank you. I am taking on your challenge.

    • You are welcome! Please know that you are not alone and so many of us have been in your shoes. Sending you good vibes for tomorrow night. That is the awesome thing about bedtime; there is always another chance! Thinking of you!

  4. i have just come across your blog from hands free mama and wanted to say I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts. I think its incredibly brave to be as honest as you are – and a friction relief to find your words! I’ve been struggling sometimes with my patience putting my daughter to bed and man it can be hard. sometimes its taken hours, so that i just end up collapsing into bed after. i really hear you on the humour, and i know that at the end of the day I’m just generally feeling a bit frazzled and tired and so have less patience so need to be more aware of this. it can be hard tho! will be applying your tooth brushing tip, Laura

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