By Beth Ricci, Contributing Writer
We all want the end of our days with our kids to be calm and peaceful but sometimes the stresses of the day can get in the way. By having a specific routine each night we can connect with our kids and make sure to end the day in a sweet spot. In this post I want to share our current bedtime routine and then list a few tips for creating your own.
Our Bedtime Routine
(Our kids are 4.5 years, 2.5 years, and 9 months old)
The usual routine actually starts at dinnertime. Our kids go to bed pretty early since they are still pretty little. We go straight from the dinner table to bath time about 2-3 times/week. If it’s not a bath night then the kids go straight to get jammies on and brush teeth. They actually enjoy brushing their teeth, and want to do it on their own (although we insist on helping first before handing the toothbrush over).
Once jammies are on and teeth are brushed, we part ways: Mommy and the baby go into one room for nursing and rocking. We use a white noise machine in each room. Daddy and the older two kids go into their room for stories.
The light is out and the lamp is on and it’s all cozy. They all snuggle on one bed with Daddy in the middle, and read 3-4 short books. The light goes out when the last word of the story is read and then they each take turns singing a song. (Current favourites include: “Pink is My Favourite Colour” – an original composition, and “The ABC’s” or “Oh Mr. Sun”).
When stories are done, monster spray has been sprayed, and yawning has commenced, prayers are spoken. Daddy says a blessing over them from the Bible: “And now may the Lord bless you and keep you, may he cause his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, and give you his peace.” Eyes are droopy and bodies are relaxed.
At this point, Daddy lifts the biggest of our babies up into his loft bed, where he curls up and falls asleep almost instantly. The girlie wants “one more snuggle” and as Daddy tucks her blankets around her chin she yawns and can’t keep her eyes open any longer. Daddy goes to sit in the rocking chair until they’ve drifted off for sure, then slips out and joins Mommy downstairs.
It’s almost always the exact same (and if there is any variation the kids are sure to remind us of the “right way”!). They find comfort in the predictability and coziness that the routine brings, and it is a calm and peaceful way to end the day.
Not every family will have a routine like this one. Some families choose to do things differently, and that’s awesome. The important thing is knowing what works for you and being intentional about it. Kids thrive on undivided attention, predictability, and comforting routines that are all about engaging with those they love.
3 Tips to Create Your Own Peaceful Bedtime Routine
1. Know Your Kiddo
Before you start following any formulas or books or blog posts there is one most important thing to remember: know your kid’s unique needs, and be willing to flex the routine based on how your little one reacts. For some kids a bath before bed is a calming step in the routine but for others it only hypes them up. Always follow your child’s cues before any formulas or recommendations from others!
2. Come Prepared
When you start the bedtime routine with your kids you should try to check your baggage at the door. Although it’s totally understandable to be stressed out as parents from a rough day, if you it will only hinder your efforts to give your kids a peaceful send-off into dreamland if you are not fully prepared with a positive mindset.
3. Be Available
Patience is a virtue right? It sure is hard to come by sometimes, but your kids will thank you for it if you don’t rush through things. That, and they totally know when you skip pages in their favourite story 😉
There are many different elements that you could include in your bedtime routine such as special family traditions, prayers, a snack or drink, tucking in stuffed animals or dolls, and of course lots of cuddles. Form a routine that works for your family, and repeat it with as much consistency as possible.
The bottom line is to spend a bit of time at the end of the day to give your little one your undivided attention, letting them know just how loved they really are. Cherish these times and enjoy the ebb and flow as it changes over the years, being confident in the fact that your relationship with your child will be all the better for it.
What does your bedtime routine look like?