Level up your bedtime game – your kids will love it

Saying that final goodnight for the millionth time after endless rounds of ‘just one more’ – just one more story, snack, drink, pee, prayer, hug, question or whatever, is nothing short of a monumental achievement for most of us with young kids. In fact, pulling into the home straight at the end of the day feels more like the end of an epic endurance race as we await our reward to hang on the couch with our fave telly show.

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Ironically after all the moaning, groaning and bickering, it’s bedtime that we have our kids’ full attention. They are actively pursuing us, busting to hang out with us and gagging for our full attention. Bedtime presents us with the chance to sneak in behind our child’s ‘attitude’ and tap into what really going on for them.

If you’re a little bamboozled by bedtimes or have a tough time getting your kids to unwind at the end of the day, you might be wondering how this bedtime thing can be done without the carnage. Here are some fun ideas to try to connect with your kids at this time of the day.

Two truths and a lie

Not that we want to encourage them to lie, but kids adore stories and they are (mostly) fascinated to hear about what life was like for us when we were their age. This guessing game is an awesome way to share parts of our story with our kids in a fun way.

It’s easy. Just think of three random facts about your life, two of them need to be true, and one of them untrue. Your child then guesses which is which. For example, my name is Jo, I work for Parenting Place and I used to play cricket for New Zealand. Okay, don’t make it that obvious. You get the idea.

Knock out

Our eyes are the windows to our soul, and this game is a beautiful way to catch and keep the gaze of our kids. Set the timer on your phone and have a staring or blinking competition.

For this game, the build up is important. Get your child to shake all the excess energy out of their body, sit up in bed and get comfy. Then they take your gaze, and you both hold it, for as long as you can. The first one to break the gaze loses.

This or that

You can really have some fun with this one. Think of two options and let your kids choose if they would rather this, or that. You can make this fun by choosing between two super good options or two gross options or you can mix things up by creating a tricky moral dilemma. Here are some examples –

  • Would you rather smell of strong body odor, or faint dog poo?
  • Would you rather jump out of a plane with a parachute or jump off a bridge with a bungee cord?
  • Would you rather wear your shoes on the wrong feet or your jeans on backwards?
  • Would you rather be a teacher or a doctor?
  • Would you rather get caught lying or cheating?

Let’s go camping

To mix up the routine of storytime and keep things interesting, this is an oldie but a goodie. Let your child choose their favourite story and before you start to read it together, switch the lights off and get them to hold a torch. Depending on the age of your child, you could read one sentence each or a paragraph or a page, and then swap. This might feel like a fun camping adventure in the comfort of their own bedroom. Fun.

Pillow talk

This one might require some prep with some conversation cards, you can buy some here or better still, create your own. Bunker down beside your child, put the night light on or just keep the hallway light on, pretend you have all the time in the world (yes, this will be difficult but your full attention won’t go unnoticed). Give your child three free questions. Here are some examples to get you started –

  • If you could change one thing in your school, what would you change?
  • What is the best age to be? Why?
  • Do you think it’s more important to be rich or kind? Why?
  • What job would you never want to have?
  • What’s the best present you have ever received?
  • What’s the best part of being a grown up ?
  • If you could be a parent for a day, what would you do?

The aim of all this is to create a full stop to the end of the day so both you and your child can get the rest you need to do the next day well. Let your child know that after the game, all demands will be met with a simple ‘good night’ but that you’re looking forward to seeing them in the morning, which saves you all the huffing, puffing and growling.


Book a session with a Family Coach

family-coachSometimes family life is way more challenging than we had ever imagined. We would like it to be a lot more enjoyable, if only we knew how. Family coaching is designed to meet you where you are at, whatever stage you are at on your parenting and relationship journey. We want to be on the journey with you. To find out more and to book a session, click here.

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About Author

Jo Batts

For Jo, relationships are at the heart of whānau. Jo is our Family, Relationships and Marriage coach at Parenting Place working with family, sibling and relational dynamics. She’s a counsellor, a strengths coach, a parent, a partner, and the leader of our relationships and marriage programme. Jo's down-to-earth approach helps people to develop the practical tools to build healthy relationships for everyday life.

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