Pretty much every parent I know feels a certain amount of stress over the hours between one or both parents arriving home from work and the kids finally, finally being packed off to bed. In our house it's just a mad rush of supervising homework, picking up toys, getting dinner on the table, walking the dog, giving the kids baths or showers and tucking them in.
I'm lucky to have a husband who's generally home for all the craziness and actually participates equally, and I have only two kids so we can run a man-to-man versus a zone defense. Our keys to some degree of sanity have been a pretty much ironclad routine so our kids know what to expect next, and creating a bedtime ritual with both kids.
Lately, we've been doing progressive relaxation (having them imagine relaxing their body from their toes up to their heads). The progressive relaxation exercise really helps them wind down and switch off the daytime "wild child" behavior. The downside to that is that I have on more than one occasion almost fallen asleep myself!
A kiss on the head and and "I love you, sleep tight!" and we're out of there. It's actually my favorite part of the day, ending it on a warm and loving note and enjoying some sweet snuggling after the crazy pace of the day. I'm going to be pretty sad when I get, at best, a "good night, mom!" before they go up to bed themselves.
What are your bedtime tricks to help make it a pleasant, positive time of the day?