For many families, bedtime is a stressful time of day when it really should be about togetherness and relaxation! Instead of letting the frustration continue, it is always helpful to take a step back and figure out a plan to improve this process. The steps below will allow you to brainstorm a bedtime routine that will work great for your family and allow everyone to enjoy the end of the day (instead of dreading it).
Keep in mind that this is your chance to start from scratch and create the perfect bedtime routine. If what you're doing isn't working very well, then scrap it and start fresh! Keep it simple and lay out the few steps that will help your children wind down from a busy day and calmly drift off to sleep.
When you go about creating a bedtime routine, you will want to consider a few important things…
And be sure to scroll down for a FREE PRINTABLE BEDTIME CHART!
Keep Bedtime Simple
If the bedtime routine is too long or too involved, then it will be very hard to stay consistent. Start by figuring out the bare minimum for the evening – what are those non-negotiables? Going to the bathroom and brushing their teeth?
Sometimes we need that reminder of what needs to happen on the most basic level, and then we can build from there. As you add to your nightly routine, try to keep it to a checklist of just a few items. You can always add in extra things if you have time for it on any given night, but the goal is to have a basic routine that you (and your kids) have turned into such a habit that you don't even have to think about it anymore.
Consider Your Kids
Your children's ages and capabilities are a big factor in planning out your bedtime routine. What steps can they manage on their own, and what will they need help with? Would a visual chart help them go through steps on their own? Can they brush their teeth all at the same time, or does that distract them or cause bickering? Do they always need a snack and/or water before bed?
Figure Out the Timing of Bedtime
The secret to smooth bedtimes is getting the timing right, which is definitely easier said than done. Take a minute to crunch the numbers and figure out an optimal bedtime for your kiddos by considering the following info:
- When do they have to wake up in the mornings?
- How much sleep do they need based on their age/personality?
- What time do they need to be asleep to get that much sleep?
- How long does it take your child to fall asleep?
- How long does it take to do your bedtime routine?
- What time do you need to start the bedtime process?
Once you have all of that info, you'll be able to be realistic about your time so that the evenings don't feel so rushed and frustrating. The goal is also to have your kids wake up refreshed and happy after getting a good night's sleep so hopefully a good nighttime routine will also lead to better mornings!
Be Realistic and Consistent with Bedtime
And when it comes down to it, what will you actually end up doing? You could create a perfect-sounding plan, but if no one is able to follow through with it, it won't work. You want this bedtime routine to simply become habit for the whole family so be realistic about your expectations and then encourage consistency!
Make the Bedtime Routine Visual
Once you come up with a good, simple bedtime routine then you can turn it into something visual! You can get as creative as you want, or you can keep it really simple.
- Write the checklist down on a piece of paper
- Design something pretty on your computer
- Get crafty with the kids and make a poster
- Laminate your checklist and use a dry erase marker each night
- … the options are endless
Kids tend to do much better with following directions when they have something visual to go off of, and it might surprise you just how much responsibility they take when given the opportunity. Be sure to consider your kids' ages/abilities when creating the visual checklist: Use visual icons for little ones to be able to follow along, use small words for beginner readers, or simply write it all out for more advanced readers.
Sample Bedtime Routine
Hopefully all of these ideas help to spark inspiration for you and your family, but if you still feel a little stuck here is a sample bedtime routine checklist that you are welcome to use!
- Go potty
- Wash hands and face
- Brush teeth
- Put dirty clothes in hamper
- Put on pajamas
- Read a story
- Turn off the light
- Give hugs and kisses
- Think of your favorite thing
- Fall asleep
This printable is created by Shari Medini
For more on this topic, check out the full Sleep collection
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FIND ANSWERS TO YOUR SLEEP QUESTIONS
Whether it is the newborn, the toddler, the teenager, or even the parents themselves… most families have their fair share of sleep struggles! Check out Adore Them's Sleep Collection which is filled with great advice and ideas to help your whole family get some more Zzz's. Enjoy tips and suggestions from famous sleep experts, and from mama's that figured out a few new tricks along the way.
Take advantage of sample sleep schedules, and expert tips on sleep regression & sleep training. Also, discover new ways to promote healthy sleep. And check out our healthy late night bedtime snack, because who’s kid isn’t always hungry at bedtime?! And enjoy an easy DIY project to help increase relaxation in your bedroom. Getting into a healthy bedtime routine for the whole family is very important, and it can be done in a fun way! Best of luck with your little sleeping beauties!
And for more on this topic, check out the full Sleep collection
Co-Owner: Shari Medini
Shari Medini is the co-owner of the parenting website Adore Them. Her prior experience includes working as a marketing strategist and writer on multi-million dollar capital campaigns, website designs, advertising campaigns, and book launches. Shari's parenting articles have been published in dozens of publications; and she enjoys doing various speaking engagements. When she's not on her laptop, Shari can be found spending quality time with her husband and two sons exploring their hometown of Lancaster County, PA
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