Many children in care have the most difficult time at night. This is because much of the abuse occurred at night or in the dark. They are scared and often have nightmares or just can’t sleep. To add to this, bedtime is often a difficult and trying time around many homes in general. However, it doesn’t have to be. Have a routine and do your best to stick with it. Also, be consistent in the order of the routine so that kids know what to expect. That said, do not be too much of a drill sergeant when it comes to bed times. Begin to tuck the kids into bed at their bedtime but also realize that this is the time when many children will open up to you. If they begin to talk with you, let them. This is one of the best times for you to bond with the child. Yes, it’s true that both you and the kids know they may be talking to you just to stay up a little later. But that’s okay. At least they are talking to you. One of the first steps to healing is being able to admit your thoughts, fears and inhibitions. By all means, let them talk.
This is the nightly routine that works best for us during the school year. It is very similar during the summer except I let the kids stay up a little later and don’t have homework time.
4:00‒6:00 p.m. Homework time, chores, take a shower and then have free time.
6:00‒7:00 p.m. Dinner time as a family.
7:00‒8:00 p.m. Complete chores and showers, followed by free time.
8:00‒8:30 p.m. Family devotional.
8:30‒9:30 p.m. Read to children and get them tucked into bed.
Bed Time Goals on School Nights
8:30 p.m. For the 6-year-old.
9:00 p.m. For the 8-year-old.
9:30 p.m. For all kids 11 and up.
During the summer, there is more leeway. Although I do still try to keep to a routine, I will let the kids stay up later if we are watching a movie together or playing a board game. We do both movies and games several nights a week as a family. One of our favorite board games is called Ticket to Europe. We also play Clue, Monopoly and Risk frequently. All of the kids from age 10 and up play individually and the younger ones partner up with someone else. It is wonderful family time as well as very inexpensive entertainment.
The routines outlined, as most others, have been adapted over time to meet the needs of the kids as well as my own. The important take-away is not particular bedtimes or an order of events. It is that children from care need a consistent, predictable routine. There is some flexibility with weekends, summer or family events but in general stay as close to the routine as possible and provide the greatest level of predictability possible. This gives not only as sense of control and safety to your child but will lessen the frequency and degree of temper tantrums and protests. It will also allow your adequate time to rest and prepare for the day to come.