10 Fun Bedtime Routines You’ll Love!

mother and three years old boy in bedroom

As parents, we hate to admit that we love when our kids go to bed. Of course, if your bedtime routine is less than desirable, you may sooner leave them stay up late for fear of the tantrums and whining. Every child is different and as such, every child needs something different to help them fall asleep feeling safe and calm. Parents sometimes rush the process of getting their kids off to bed because they just want that precious little time at the end of the day to themselves. Those first five minutes of quiet are sometimes so overwhelming, you don’t even know what to do with yourself…and then, “Mummy” comes from the other room: so much for quiet time.

If you’re struggling with a relaxing bedtime routine to ease your child into bed, try some of these ideas. Mix and match until you find something that works for you. Your child will let you know what is working for them by the lack of stalling and complaining about wanting another snack.

Don’t rush

Bedtime routine should never be rushed. Give yourself plenty of time to start winding the kiddos down from the day. Children’s brains are firing neurons at a millions miles a minute: they need some time to come down off that high at the end of every day. Give your child some timings and a few warning announcements about the pending bedtime.

Snack time

You already know they are going to ask for a bedtime snack. Even if they just ate a plate full of food: kids like snacking so don’t deny them this treat at bed. Yogourt, fruit, cheese, or a bowl of hot cereal will help kids avoid sugar rushes at bedtime, and keep their belly full throughout the night. A glass or water or milk helps to wash it down.

Reading matters

Whether your child prefers to read alone or you are reading to them, take 15 minutes each night to read something – anything! This will bring your child’s brain back to center and allow them to think about something other than their devices and games. There’s lots of research about just how long devices should be turned off before bed, but you know your children best and if you find that 20 minutes before bed isn’t enough, try 30. And keep experimenting with time so that you find what works for your children.

Pack for the next day

Planning for tomorrow goes a long way tonight. Get your kids involved in picking out their clothes and deciding what they want to bring to school for lunch. Make a plan to stick to it. You can avoid rushing and last minute mishaps by using the few minutes before bed to make decisions and lay out clothing.

Talk about your day

If you are lucky enough to have your entire family at the dinner table, you’ll probably talk about your day during meal time, but bedtime is a great time to dig deeper into a child’s day and the intimacy of it all can really bring a child to be more honest and open with a parent. The hustle of dinner can distract from how a child is really feeling or about a good or bad part of their day. A few questions at bedtime can prompt a wonderful story or a secret they may not have shared at dinner.

Set a bedtime

Bedtime should be as consistent as possible. You’ll hear many adults say they go to bed at the same time every night because they understand how much – or how little – sleep they need to function the next day. Children don’t yet know how much sleep they need so watch for ques in them and help them determine a good bedtime for themselves.

Pick your pajamas game

Sometimes children are painfully slow to get ready, especially if you are trying to teach them independence. Giving them small responsibilities throughout the day can help them learn that independence but any chance you have to turn those tasks into a game is a winner in our book. Try the pajamas game: have your child pick pajamas and then hide from you and you have to get which ones they are wearing! They’ll love it. Here’s a tip: they love it when you get it wrong! Who doesn’t love to be right?!

Clean, clean, clean!

Whether it’s a full-fledged bath night or just a quick wipe down, children should get in the habit of cleaning up before bed. They’ll feel better and they can “get the day off them” so to speak. Don’t forget those teeth. We had to initiate a pay-per-brush system. Our son gets a bit of change each time he brushes his teeth at bedtime without my asking. He remembers sometimes, but the routine of it all definitely helps him.

Set your goals

Before bed, talk about what tomorrow will look like for your family and ask your children what they hope to accomplish tomorrow. Depending on their age, their answers could range anywhere from “goo googaagaa” to “get an A on my spelling test.” Talking about what tomorrow will bring is a good way to visualize things and help children cope with any new experiences or worries they have. Children with crowd anxiety will appreciate talking about how a party is going to turn out or what food will be served. It helps kids to see it for themselves.

Snuggle

Do this with your children for as long as they’ll have you. Some kids stop asking parents to cuddle with them earlier than others, so soak it in while you can. And do it every night. Saying no just deprives every one of the best part of parenting: getting to hold your child while they sleep. We know, sometimes you are busy or just too tired, but make the time. You’ll wish you did it more when your children are older.

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