Today I’d like to share with you one of the tips my wife and I have used to improve our parenting skills – it’s called the Family Bedtime Chat. The concept is simple – before we all go to bed, we meet as a group in one of the bedrooms and everyone gets a chance to tell about their day (what they liked and perhaps what they didn’t). It takes less than 5 minutes to do and yet those 5 minutes are often some of the best ‘family time’ of the day. Perhaps you might give it a try with YOUR family too?
How our Family Bedtime Chats Started
We’ve been doing Family Bedtime Chats for about 6 years now. They’ve developed over time, but the concept has remained the same. My wife, my kids, and I all take turns briefly talking about our day. I started the idea when my sons were 2 and 7 respectively and the original idea was for each person to tell the group 1 thing they liked about the day.
The reason I came up with the idea was because I was trying to help my boys understand the concept of “Now Moments” – those treasured moments of life that make life better and which occur every day if we simply take the time to recognize them. I had no idea the little life lesson I was trying to teach would turn into a family tradition that’s lasted so long, but it turned out my family really loves them and they’ve become such a habit that it’s something we try to do every day – even I’m travelling for work or a couple of us are camping for scouts, we’ll spend some time on the phone together to do our bedtime chat. It’s just part of who are are as a family now and that’s something I’m so grateful for.
The Roadblock that almost killed our Chats in the very beginning.
This tradition wasn’t always roses. While our older son (Jax) was happy to participate along with my wife and I, our youngest son (JeeHo) has always been a bit of a tough nut and at first he didn’t want to talk at all. We didn’t force him to talk if didn’t want to, but we still made him sit and listen to the rest of us so he could hear about our day. He was ok with that. After a couple weeks he was willing to talk a bit – however JeeHo preferred to tell us something he did NOT like about his day!
That was a bit of a twist but we let JeeHo run with his idea and to encourage him further all modified our routine by having everyone tell 1 thing they like and 1 thing they didn’t. JeeHo then 1-upped us again by happily telling us all about the many things he did NOT like about his day (he didn’t like dinner, his older brother Jax teased him, he fell and hurt himself, etc) and sometimes we’d get a tiny thing he maybe liked (playing with Jax, Daddy reading to him, swimming, etc). Over time, JeeHo has grown out of ONLY talking about the bad things and now he happily shares the many things he likes about his day – although to this day his daily chat almost always includes something he didn’t like. (Hey, you can’t win evey parenting battle right?)
What our Family Bedtime Chats are like today
Over the years our chats have morphed – we no longer have the ‘structure’ we had in the early days. Instead it’s just a matter of getting together as a group and each sharing something – it could be about what happened that day, or maybe something they are looking forward to the next day, or maybe it’s about a problem they’re having, or in JeeHo’s case some idea for a new invention he has cooking. Very often I’ll talk about something I’m grateful (for example: “I’m thankful that God has blessed us by letting us all be here together, that we’re all happy, that we love each other, and that we’re healthy.”
All told the entire chat takes 3-5 minutes then we give everyone a quick kiss and it’s off to bed.
The Priceless Aspect of our Family Bedtime Chats
Let me share with you perhaps my favorite thing about our bedtime chats – it’s a tradition within a tradition so to speak. Our oldest son Jax had to overcome verbal apraxia and sometimes it takes him a bit of time to think of what he wants to say. The bedtime ritual was a bit challenging for him at first and so to give himself time he would often say “I like right now” before telling us something else he liked about his day. That phrase “I like right now” always touched my heart because Jax is a sincere person and I knew when he said that – even though it was giving his mind time to think of something else – it was 100% true.
For my oldest son to tell us that one of his favorite parts of the day was to be sitting with his family chatting before bed was incredible to me.
To this day, he still says “I like right now” every time we do a bedtime chat – and very often one 1 or more of the rest of us will say it too. It’s truly priceless.
Who has time for a Bedtime Chat?
I get it – life is hard and it often pulls us in many different directions. Especially as the kids have gotten older and have gotten involved in after school activities (sports, homework, friends, etc, etc), time flies each day. Throw in trying to have a family dinner, get cleaned up, and maybe have a bit of time to watch some Netflix before bed and there’s not a lot of time before bed. I’m sure it’s the same for you. But, like I’ve mentioned, a bedtime chat doesn’t have to take an hour – invest just a few minutes (literally 3, 4, or 5 minutes) and you’ll build a family lifeline that will pay you massive dividends by keeping a regular line of communication open with your kids.
Make Family Bedtime Chats part of your Evening Routine.
Regular readers know I’ve professed the benefits of the Morning Routine for years – getting a jump start on your day with a bit of structured habits sets you up for success – but what about your EVENING Routine? You probably have a lot of things you do nightly before you go to bed, right? Why not add a bedtime chat with your family into the mix?
Spending a few minutes with your kids talking about your day can yield tremendous benefits and is a great ROI for your time so give it a try and start your first Family Bedtime Chat tonight. You’ll be glad you did!