For the Love of a Bedtime Routine

A bedtime routine is a series of activities, in a consistent order before going to sleep. A routine helps promote relaxation and prepare for restful sleep. In children, this is vital for their little brains to click into sleep mode.

I know, from experience, bedtime can turn into chaos very quickly. Establishing a bedtime routine was one of the best things I have ever done to help keep the calm that should be happening at bedtime. Children need more sleep than adults do. Losing even a small bit of sleep at the beginning of the night can throw off their mood for a few days after. Having a bedtime routine in place creates a clear structure for a child to start recognizing when bedtime is. This will help their body to start producing melatonin (the sleep hormone) and, hopefully, help them to fall asleep quickly.

Why though?

Having structure throughout the day is often really important to parents. We want to have clear meal times, play times, and rest time. It’s easier to block out those times, because there is a clear task. For children, it can feel a bit out of the blue when they are just put in bed and expected to sleep. At meal time, they can see someone cooking, setting the table, and then sitting down to eat. It may not seem like a routine, but those processes tell a child that it’s time to eat. At play time, maybe you take out a few toys to play with, lay out a blanket to play on, or prepare a snack to eat while they play. That’s another routine! Children often thrive on routines. Tasks fit into a space that is easier to understand. By having a consistent bedtime routine, bedtime becomes an obvious time, and they are able to prepare themselves for sleep.

Their body needs a bedtime routine to know when to start producing melatonin. Without the cool down time, they will certainly not want to stay in bed, and will fight it for longer than a usual bedtime struggle. This will cause them to become overtired, and most likely will create a really grumpy kid the next day.

What should a bedtime routine look like?

A bedtime routine should include activities that you, as the parent, are willing and able to maintain on a daily basis.

The most effective bedtime routines fit well within your family dynamic. You want to pick about 10 simple and clear tasks/activities that have a good mix of things that need to happen, and things that add some fun. They should also be age appropriate. A bedtime routine should be very consistent. The key to it being effective is to do everything in the same order, at the same time, every day.

A sample bedtime routine for a 2 year old:

  • Bath
  • Pjs
  • Brush teeth
  • Brush hair
  • Read 3 books
  • Pray
  • Get in bed
  • Lights out
  • Sing songs
  • Hugs and kisses
  • Tuck in/Good night
Quick Tip: If you don’t want to bathe your child every single day, make sure bath days are always the same days of the week.

Tailoring Bedtime Routines for Different Ages

My kids are 4 years apart, so I can definitely understand that some routines don’t work for all ages. The good news is, that most of the bedtime tasks are universal for all ages. If your older children prefer to read independently, or enjoy read aloud time, split the tasks between parents. One parent can read to the toddler/baby, and the other can read to the older kids.

My dentist recommends that a parent does the toothbrushing until 8 years old, so you have many years to do that with your children. Bring in one child at a time, and have the other child/children finishing the previous task.

Include activities that older children can help their younger siblings with. A simple game of hide and seek can help get out a bit of energy, and promote some time when the kids are working together and having moments of rest.

Troubleshooting Bedtime Routine Challenges

Splitting tasks between parents can really help with some of the stress that can spiral everything out of control. If you’re noticing that no one can agree upon which book to read, take away the choice, or give them less books to pick from. As a parent, you can make things more simple. Gradually reintroduce their opportunity to pick which books to read, as they become more accustomed to their bedtime routine.

If you had an outing that brings you home really close to, or after bedtime, you can still do the routine, just make it a bit quicker. Keep the most important things, like tooth brushing, pjs, a book or two, hugs and kisses, and keep things in the same order. Sometimes you can even do parts of the routine in the car on the way home.

If one parent can’t be there at bedtime occasionally, simplify.

Want some amazing news? I have created a Bedtime Routine Blueprint! It is an amazing tool to help parents have a more pleasant getting ready for bed experience with their children. It involves music, rewards, and giving your child a sense of accomplishment! Don’t hesitate! Download my Bedtime Routine Blueprint now.

Importance of Consistency

We can’t expect a bedtime routine to have a positive impact on the home if it’s not consistently implemented. It might feel really hard for the first little bit, because it’ll be new, and kids naturally want to fight change (adults too.) Don’t give up!

I’m more than happy to help you and your family set up a solid bedtime routine! Find me on instagram and send me a DM with the word Bedtime! I’ll give you a free bedtime routine.





For the Love of a Bedtime Routine

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