How would your evenings change if it only took you 20 minutes to put your kids to bed? What if there were no arguments, no fits, and no fighting when you told the kids it was time for sleeping? Impossible, you say? It’s not! And I can prove it.
When it’s time for bed, it takes us 30 minutes to get our kids to sleep. It takes about 20 minutes to get through the nightly routine, and then our children are typically asleep about 10 minutes after we turn the lights off. Every. Single. Night!
It’s not magic I promise! Here’s what we do.
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Our Bedtime Routine
1. We give a 5 or 10 minute warning.
Before we even effort at starting our bedtime process, we give our kids a warning that bedtime is coming. It helps prepare their minds and their hearts to finish or stop what they’re currently doing and know a transition to bedtime is coming. It preps the kids to change direction, to know the end of the day is coming, and to know what to expect since we do the same routine every night.
2. We brush teeth.
Our boys brush their teeth downstairs in our bathroom, so we start with brushing teeth before they go upstairs to their own room. We set a 2 minute timer for brushing (we use this kind of timer, but I REALLY want to get this one! It’s so cute!), get toothbrushes ready, and then supervise their brushing to make sure they actually brush instead of play. Our kiddos have all had cavities (soft teeth run in my family unfortunately!) so we make sure all those tooth germs are gone!
3. We head upstairs to put on jammers.
When the kids were going to school everyday, we had them change out of their school clothes into their pajamas and throw their clothes over the stair rail and onto the floor down below so their dirty clothes could go into the washing machine at night. They loved this part of the routine since they got to chunk their clothes with all their might! Nowadays though, since we’re in quarantine, the boys often just wear their underwear all day (don’t judge!) so we just change underwear and throw the dirty ones downstairs. It works for us.
4. We read books.
The boys pick out two books for bedtime, one each, and I sit and read them books. My oldest daughter reads her sister a chapter book every night too which gives them some bonding time and allows us all to be doing the same things at the same time. Thegirls take a little longer to get to bed since their chapters are longer than the books I read to the boys, but we’re all reading at the same time right before bed. It allows the younger three to take a brain break and relax, and it preps them all for sleeping. Some of our favorite bedtime books include Bless Me, Good Night Moon, The Little Blue Truck series, the Cam Jansen series, the Owl Diaries series, and anything by Sandra Boynton. We really love her!
5. I tuck the boys into bed, turn off the lights, and turn on the nightlight.
When story time is over, I tuck the boys into bed and turn off the light, turn on the boys’ nightlight, then I get my husband to finish the second half of our routine. We both participate in the bedtime routine so that we are both getting to say goodnight, and it gives our kids an opportunity to tell both of us goodnight too.
6. My husband fills their water bottles.
The kids used to wake us up in the middle of the night thirsty, so we bought them all Contigo water bottles that don’t leak to keep next to their beds at night (p.s. They’re great for lunch too!). Part of our routine is for my husband to bring ice upstairs and add ice and water to fill their water bottles while he’s doing the next step in our routine. Sometimes the water bottles are still full, but a lot of the time they’re half or completely empty, so he checks every night and refills them.
7. My husband sings songs.
My husband can’t carry a tune to save his life, LOL, but the kids think his singing is great, so he sings a couple of songs to them every night once they’re tucked into bed while he’s filling their water bottles. They get to lay down and listen to dad sing silly songs, and they think it’s great! I leave the room at this point *wink*.
8. My husband prays.
The last thing my husband does before he leaves the room every night is to pray for our kiddos. He prays that they will be protected through the night, that they will have sweet dreams, and that they will be covered with the Armor of God. He prays almost the exact same prayer every night, but if he ever forgets one part of the prayer, the kids are quick to remind him! Having my husband pray teaches them God cares about them, we care about them, and it helps them feel safe while they sleep.
It might seem there are a lot of steps to our routine, but since we do the same thing every night, we get through it pretty quickly. We’ve been doing this routine for almost 15 years now and it runs like clockwork. Even when one of us parents is gone or sick and unable to participate in the routine for whatever reason, we still do the same things and one parent just does all of the routine. The kids know what to expect and they know the order, so they could really do the entire routine by themselves at this point.
Bedtime Routine Sticker Chart
Having a routine makes bedtime easy for us. It’s not magic, but it certainly is magical! When we first started our routine, we made a checklist with spaces to put stickers on once they learned the routine. Every night we would do a task, then put a sticker on the box to show we had done it, and then moved on to the next step, and put on another sticker. We did this every night for about a month and the kids loved it since they loved adding stickers to the chart. It gave them some motivation to learn the routine, and soon it became second nature to get them to bed. You can download your own chart below if you’d like! You can print off multiple pages, or just laminate one page and use a white board marker instead of stickers to mark off the tasks in the routine.
Do you have a nightly bedtime routine? What do you include? Would having a bedtime routine help your family get to bed more easily? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to download your own bedtime routine sticker chart!