If your home is anything like mine, getting kids to bed can be like herding cattle. And if your kids are toddlers, it’s even worse. (If I had a quarter for every time my 2 year old tried to stall at bedtime, I’d be rich.)
However, after three kids, our bedtime routine is a LOT smoother than it used to be. Fortunately, we’ve learned a thing or two from experience. So, if you’re having trouble getting your kids down without a battle at bedtime, try one (or all) of these tips!
Be Super Consistent
First and foremost, are the kids going to bed at the same time every night? Are they doing the same actions?
If a child doesn’t know what to expect and every day is different, it doesn’t matter what else you do for a bedtime routine. It probably won’t work.
So, be as consistent as possible both with the bedtime routine you choose, and what time they go to bed.
Go Simple on the Routine
I’ve known several sets of parents whose bedtime routine lasted thirty minutes. That is entirely too much work and part of the reason parents become impatient at bedtime!
Instead, make the ritual a time to wind down, but keep it short and sweet. Ten minutes is plenty to give a little love, brush teeth, and read a SHORT book. Then, set them free for bed. Honestly, this is enough.
Be Clear It’s Wind Down Time
Have you ever tried to calm down your kids and instead they’re jumping off the walls? That’s definitely happened at my home. But if this is an everyday problem, consider switching routine activities. Perhaps you listen to the sound of rain before bed or cuddle in a different spot if your regular spot becomes more of a wrestle zone. Switch up ONE activity and see if it makes a difference in everyone’s energy levels.
Give Yourself a Break
Nowhere in the imaginary parenting handbook does it say that a bedtime routine has to be perfect. In fact, because it involves kids, it never will be. So, when things go awry, take a deep breath and do your best. As a parent, I know that some days, it’s just amazing that we got them to bed. And that’s ok.
Routines are meant to make things EASIER, not stress you out. So, if it’s doing the opposite, let something go. Maybe it’s time to give up reading a book. Or they can read their own books. The kids will be fine if you do less. I promise.
Give Older Kids “Book Time”
Even big kids need ample quiet time to settle their bodies for bed. So, designate a certain time that kids are in their rooms reading. This can start at age 3 or 4, and even if they’re playing in their rooms quietly it counts.
Not only does this give mom and dad a few extra moments to relax, but it enables bigger kids to relax on their own. It’s giving them the independence to wind down on their own (a great skill) while they’re separated from siblings who will inevitably rile them up.
I hope these bedtime routine tips for kids were helpful! Every family is different, but what has worked best in our home is giving everyone the space they need to relax after a designated time. We also find that simplicity and structure beats a complicated and inconsistent bedtime routine EVERY SINGLE DAY.
“Your evening routine is completely dictated by the quality of your daily structure.”Brendon Burchard