Bedtime Routine For the Win


I’m pretty sure our bedtime routine saved my life.

I like to be melodramatic when I think I can get a laugh, but it’s true. Our routine has been super great for the kids and all, but I feel like I’ve been the major benefactor since its inception. I don’t dread bedtime. (I look forward to it most nights.) If you’re over there hating me right now, I don’t blame you. I can take it.

It was hard for me to get my bearings after we had our first child. I felt a complete and utter loss of control in everything. In a fit of early parenthood desperation fueled by a significant lack of sleep, my husband and I tried to buy back the control with some “Guaranteed to Get Your Baby to Sleep” program. I think we spent around $50 just trying to purchase some sanity. I paid that money so willingly. Good times. Good times.

In case you haven’t already figured it out, control is important to me. I feel like I should be rewarded for admitting that. Control is important to me and I had a baby on purpose {insert laugh here}. When we were starting out, I thought if I can’t have control, at least I can have the illusion of control disguised cleverly as consistency. I liked that if I could depend on the consistency of nothing else (sleeping, eating, bathing), I could execute a bedtime routine – but it had to be easy. I like to be haughty while having put forth only the least amount of effort. Our routine has evolved a bit as the children have gotten a little older, but the basics are the same:

1. Bath
2. Books
3. Bed

I know. I totally just blew your mind with our patented, three-step program.

I *wish* we had invented it. We are just faithful followers of what’s recommended almost everywhere. You can’t pick up a book about “getting your children to sleep” or click on a link that promises “bedtime strategiess that work” without reading about these three steps.

It’s the same thing. Every. Single. Night. Consistency is key.

1. Be consistent
2. Be consistent
3. Be consistent

It sounds so simple. And it is, really. You know, the IDEA of it. Bathing children isn’t always easy. Sometimes, there are Israeli-Egyptian style peace-level negotiations about how many books will be read and endless requests for water after a child is finally in the bed – but everyone knows the steps. Everyone depends on the process.  The routine works. I have needed it since we started it – when my oldest was about two months old and I depend on it today (she’ll be six in a few months).

The Foot Book – Before she knew what her foot was.

We’ve added a few things here and there. When she got teeth, we added “Brush Teeth” just between the bath and the books. When she was able to talk, we started “Highs and Lows” (after “Brush Teeth” but before “Books”). “Highs and Lows” is a dedicated time to (briefly) share. Each person in the family gets to say their “high” of the day, and we make our way around the circle again with each person’s “low.” Each night, someone takes a turn saying the prayer before books are read. Some nights it even feels like we’re being lazy because the knowing what we have to do is already done.

And Reading...
Graduating from books to “stories.”

I’m NOT saying we never have weeping and gnashing of teeth over the fact that “He *touched* MY FOOT!” or who gets to drink from what cup in the bathroom after teeth are brushed. I am saying this works for us. There’s no fighting (about bedtime).

There are certainly nights I go through the motions, where I am present only in body because my spirit is broken. I also get to live those nights that are magic, when each one of us gets to be a part of something bigger, something that we’re building together – one night at a time.

If you don’t yet have a battle plan, you can try ours. Keep trying until you get one that works for you. Then…
Be consistent.

Good luck out there, soldiers.

Do you have a bedtime routine that works for your family? Share it with us!

Kristen is still in the middle of her love story. She and her best friend of four years gave in and finally decided to date. Two years later, she was engaged. Two years after that, she was married. She’ll celebrate her 17th wedding anniversary this May. Mom to Ellen (8) and James (5), she works full time in Human Resources outside of the home. Her children have taught her that motherhood is hard. And wonderful. And HARD. A proud alum of LSU and Johnson and Wales University, she also collects college degrees. (BS in Psychology, AS in Culinary Arts and BS in Culinary Nutrition). She’s lived in Baton Rouge a majority of her life, with sojourns in New Orleans, Charleston, SC and Providence, RI. The south is clearly home. Recovering from a nearly crippling case of adolescent insecurity, she is still the most likely to have the heel of her shoe caught in the hem of her pants.


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