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4 Things You Must Know Before Crafting a Bedtime Routine

What is the number one hardest time of day for families with young children?

Time and time again parents tell me about bedtime.

Not only do the kids not want to end their fun, but as a parent, you are sooooo exhausted! You’ve had a forever long day, did cleaning, cooking, entertaining, heck, you kept those kids alive all day! You deserve a flippin’ trophy!!

Yet, instead, you are now faced with a kid who is dragging his feet, trying to stay up, delaying, asking for more food, requires yet another drink, and another story, and another hug, and another this and that and this and that!

Bedtime seems to stretch on and on.

Well, no longer my friend!

There are some very simple — and essential — things to know before you start to put together a bedtime routine. 

#1. Set your Intention

What are you looking for in a bedtime routine?

Set a very clear intention. 

A healthy example: 

My intention is to have my child clean their teeth and happily get into bed, so that they can feel relaxed and fall asleep easily.

Remember your intention the whole time. Don’t fall into the trap of getting pulled away from your intention. Don’t add in a bunch of other ideas about making sure the room is clean first, or insisting on specific pajamas. 

Stay focused. 

#2. Bedtime is not teaching time

Do you find yourself explaining a lot at night? Do you talk about manners, good listening, how to brush their teeth, and why there is only time for two stories before lights go out?

Because, that’s too much!

Now, you may only have time for two stories, and that is fine. But don’t use bedtime as a teaching time. Don’t use bedtime as a time to talk about good manners or why not to hit siblings or parents. Use other times during the day for that kind of teaching. 

Bedtime is all about relaxing and calming down bodies. 

Yelling at bedtime never helped anyone fall asleep faster.

#3. Multitasking is a No-No

When you are first designing a bedtime routine, do not (I repeat) do not multitask. 

Please don’t send your kid into the bathroom to brush their teeth while putting laundry away. Your child will get distracted or make a mess or just say “No.” 

Instead, they must see what the routine is going to be. You have to communicate to them what is expected of this time. 

You don’t have to go for perfection with teeth brushing at the start. Simply state that teeth are brushed before kids lay in bed. If all you get is 3 swipes without toothpaste. Ok! That is still a win. Tomorrow, after breakfast or snack, talk about toothbrushing, show them the timer you got them, and demonstrate how to brush. Teach them. 

But don’t do it at bedtime when you are first starting out. 

Yes, you will still have a pile of laundry on your bed after the kid falls asleep. But did you hear that? Your kid will be asleep!!

Think back to the intention you set for bedtime. 

Your intention wasn’t to get laundry done while your young child does all the work. Your intention is to get them happily to bed.

#4. Connection is key

Kids are looking for connections. They want cuddles. They want (and probably need) help relaxing.

Rarely do kids get a chance to truly slow down their bodies. 

So much of the day is spent going from one activity to another. So they are going to need some help calming down their body.

Sit together, get close, cuddle, giggle, and take big deep breaths together.

Often the “falling asleep” part is the hardest part for a child. Show them how.

Take big breaths together. Picture beautiful places. Imagine floating in the clouds or down a stream in a huge sailing ship. Think about the wonderful things that you did all day. Help them slow down and feel calm.

Use these tips to get on the right page with your kids when you start to make a bedtime routine. 

Could you use more tips? Check out how you can move from Bedtime Struggles to Sleepytime Snuggles.

1 thought on “4 Things You Must Know Before Crafting a Bedtime Routine”

  1. Wow, that a great tips! Thanks a lot! That makes a lot of sense not to try to teach my daughter anything more at the time, but it's like a reflex, isn't it? Anyway, I'm following Susan Urban's tips on sleep training toddler (from here: ) and we're making great progress but I believe with your tips it will be even faster!

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