One of the first things people say after hearing our family size is, “Do you ever get any sleep!?” The truth is we’ve been blessed with good sleepers and we’ve trained them young how to sleep in their own beds. Now there are occasions when someone will come upstairs because they’ve had a bad dream and sleep next to our bed, but other than that, they go to sleep in their beds and stay there all night!
We usually start getting ready for bed about 6:45 or 7. About two or three times a week we have the kids take a bath or a shower. Our kids are still young and haven’t hit the stinky stage quite yet and we’ve learned to not do things that aren’t absolutely necessary, so this works for us now. And truth be told, during survival mode we only gave them baths on Sunday. I’m happy to be coming out of a very long survival period.
We then have the kids do a quick pick up of the main living space upstairs. This will be done various ways, the favorite is with music. I’ll put on a song and the top cleaner can choose the next song and so forth until everything is clean. Another way is for me to set a timer and we try and beat the clock. We’ll also play “I Spy” and I’ll describe things that need to be picked up and they have to find them. This one only works if there isn’t a lot to clean. A spin off of that is motivating for the kids but only works if Jacob and I are not also trying to clean up. We will choose 3 or 4 items that need to be picked up and whoever picks those things up gets a point and then we’ll choose more items. The person with the most points earns a small treat or if we’re generous we’ll give them a mini marshmallow or jelly bean per point. During survival mode the top three ways I’d get them to clean is by raising my voice, bribing them with treats for whoever cleans, or just not pick up at all.
After everything is cleaned up, we all sit down for a short scripture study, song, and prayer. Right now we’re reading the New Testament. We will read a verse or two and discuss what it’s talking about. Now, before you get an angelic scene in your mind, the youngest kids are usually playing with a toy or two – and the other kids if they can get away with it! Sometimes I give them a life saver to stuck on while we talk if they are good, but survival mode mom is usually just trying to get it done as fast as possible! Or, we just read the verse to them when they are all in bed.
Next we tell the boys to go to the bathroom, brush their teeth, and head downstairs to bed (Lily usually gets put to bed about 7 before the cleaning starts). And then we tell them again. And we tell them again. And we tell them again until we either threaten to close their doors if they are not all in bed in the certain amount of time, (They sleep with their doors open and the hall light on), or we might tell them the pincher monster is coming if they haven’t gone down to bed in 2 minutes. (I’m sure you get the visual of what happens then).
Finally, we sit in between their rooms and read them a book until most are asleep, usually about 20-30 minutes. Jacob and I both have different books we will read to them. They are usually books we are interested in reading anyway. Right now Jacob is reading the Fablehaven series and I’m reading The 39 Clues series. Occasionally I’ll have to remind them to lay down and not talk. They’re all so tired, I just have to get them to lay still long enough to succumb to sleep. After we’ve read and come upstairs we might have a child or two try to sneak back upstairs, but we’ll just tell them to go back once or twice or five times and they will. But like I said most are asleep and the others are fairly good to stay in bed and go to sleep!
There you have it! It’s really not that complex and is easy for us to do even if we are going at it alone that night for whatever reason. It’s also nice because babysitters do the basic version and have few to no problems putting 8 boys to bed! I’m also finding if I can do my nightly chores like dishes and sweeping while the kids are still up, I get to relax sooner and go to bed earlier. If I wait until they’re in bed I usually sit watching a show or look at social media to get my energy back up to clean.