Bedtime earned itself a bad rap and some parents perceive it as the most difficult time of day.

Parents are scared that their kids will refuse to shower, will jump on their beds instead of putting their heads on their pillow and, when they finally seem to be quieting down, will get up again to ask for a drink of water, for a kiss, for the light on, and for the door closed. Then they’ll remember that they forgot to do their homework and brush their teeth and they’ll never go to sleep!

Our lives are busy. As soon as we open our eyes in the morning, we jump into our whirlwind schedules. We wake the kids up, sprint around getting them ready for school and dash out of the house to get ourselves to work on time.

We don’t meet up with our kids until hours later, when we again rush to make them do their homework, prepare a healthy dinner, take care of errands and do the laundry.

When we’re out of the house, we don’t see our kids. When we’re in the house rushing about, we see them, but we don’t necessarily focus on them.

Bedtime is a great time to stop and relax and really focus on our children.

It’s a great time to read to them, talk to them and enjoy them!

How do we turn bedtime into the best time of day?

First of all, we have to notice the word “time” in “bedtime.” That means that bedtime takes time. For a smooth bedtime, we need to make sure that we have allocated a realistic amount of time for this routine.

Start bedtime early so that there is enough time for our kids to go through their whole bedtime routine in a calm, unpressured manner.

Give them enough time to brush their teeth and change into pajamas at leisure. Allow them enough time to dawdle a little and to stop mid-brushing to ask a question that popped into their head — a pleasure that they can’t enjoy in the morning when they’re rushing to catch the school bus or when they’re hurrying to soccer practice.

Most importantly, because we know that bedtime takes time and we’ve allocated a time slot for this routine, we’re patient throughout! We have nothing else to do during this time.

We answer the questions our kids ask, we help them find their favorite pair of pajama and we bring them an extra pillow or a drink of water. This is exactly what this time is set aside for.

The questions and requests that can be so annoying when we’re under pressure are not a problem when we’re relaxed. They can even be cute and enjoyable!

Now that our kids are calm because they’re not under pressure and we’re calm and patient because we have nothing else to do except bedtime, we can fill bedtime with fun, relationship-building activities.

Bedtime is a traditional time to read books to children. So read to them! Read picture books to younger children and chapter books to older kids. Even if your kids can read these books on their own, it’s so much more interesting when Mommy or Daddy reads to them.

You can vary the routine. Instead of reading a book, make up a story — any story. Think of the wackiest type of animal you can imagine and tell them what happened when your neighbor saw him. Tell them about the man with the zoo in his house, the family with one hundred kids, and the boy with an elephant trunk.

Even after the kids are in bed and the lights are out, don’t run away.

First of all, recite the Shema Yisrael prayer with them. This is the most basic Jewish prayer and it proclaims our belief in God. Reciting this prayer every night will connect your children to their heritage.

After Shema has been recited, there’s still time to talk to your kids about what happened to them over the day. You can encourage them to share “gratitude” stories, expressing thanks for the enjoyable way God orchestrated their day.

Another great way to make them feel good is to sit down on the bed next to them and pat their backs. In addition to feeling great, patting their backs will relax your kids so that they have an easier time falling asleep.

Enjoying a calm, relaxing, loving bedtime will help make sure that your kids enjoy a good night’s sleep and a good night’s sleep will then prepare them for maximum performance the next day.

Be consistent about a calm, loving bedtime routine and prep your kids for maximum performance their whole lives.