I’m sure any parent could join the club with discussions of how our children have tried to stay up at night… excuses happen in homes across the country ranging from needing a drink of water to not being tucked in properly or just one more bedtime kiss. I’m definitely no expert in this area, especially since I just posted on Instagram about how our little one was staying up too late after letting him have a too-long nap too-late in the afternoon, but three kids in and I’ve learned a few tricks. At least, I’ve learned what works for our family and with the exception of a few hiccups now and then, all three of them go to bed pretty well around the 7:30-8pm tick of the clock.
Good, healthy sleep is important for all of us, and especially for our kids. Studies show that sleep impacts brain function boosts the immune system, regulates hormones and emotions and reduces the risk of obesity. So how much sleep do our kids need? Toddlers and babies need 12 hours while children between the ages of 5 and 12 need 10-11 hours of sleep. I know it seems like a lot, and really, that’s about how much I wish I could get, but fitting those hours of sleep into the family schedule is attainable in most homes, or at least getting close to it.
Below are a few things that we’ve learned that help us get our three into bed, and usually on time.
5 Tips for a Successful Bedtime Routine for Kids
Tip 1 for a Kid’s Bedtime Routine – Actual Routine
Be consistent. Whatever it is that you do to prepare for bed with your kids, establish a routine they can count on. Routines act as signals to our kids to let them know what is coming next. Let that consistency flow into bedtimes as well… keep the time they go to bed throughout the week consistent, and even try to stick close to that time on the weekends when possible as well so that you’re not starting over again every Monday morning! We try to have the same time range for bed each night, sometimes adjusting a few minutes either way when needed, but not too much more than that.
Tip 2 for a Successful Bedtime Routine for Kids – Turn it off
Before electricity, people went to bed when the sun went down and rose when the sun came up. Since the use of artificial light, and especially now with TV and electronics keeping us busy in the evenings, we’re counteracting the natural melatonin that our bodies produce in the evening. Keep the electronic stimulation to a minimum in the evening and turn it off a good half hour before bed to let their brains prep for bedtime.
The Rituals that Lead to a Great Bedtime Routine for Kids
Here is where every family is different… but do what works for you! I’ll be honest, our kids don’t have a bath every single night. Sometimes I let them take showers in the morning, sometimes we get busy and don’t allow enough time at night, sometimes we don’t feel like they need one, but many families opt for the nightly bath as a relaxing bedtime ritual and stick with it.
For us, the routines of brushing teeth and slipping on cute, comfy and cozy pajamas are what signal bedtime for my kids. And some nights, the bath is a smell-good bonus!
After we tuck all of their fidgety little legs into bed, our rituals of praying together and quiet reading time are what settle them in for sleep. With a couple of great readers, we’ve been letting the kids pick out books at the library together to read at night. It’s really such a sweet bonding time for them.
Keeping the Bedtime Routine Stress-Free – Know What They Need
Is your kid the one that asks for a drink of water every night? Get a spill-proof cup and give them some water before they ask and while you’re still preparing for bed. Do they ask for a light on, certain music, stuffed animal, blankie? Once you know what brings comfort to your kids, you can provide it for them and before they even ask. Make it a part of your evening routine! That will help to curb the 1500 times they want to get out of bed to ask for just one more thing.
We even take a couple of our kids’ comfort items with us when we travel so that they are able to sleep comfortably away from home.
Tip 5 for a Successful Nighttime Routine – Stick with it
There will always be things that come up to mess with the routines and rituals we’ve established… late nights, sick littles, bad dreams, etc. Ironically, as I write this post, we are en route to a 10 pm meet up with a director for a night-time shoot with my four-year-old! So yes, things happen. And then, of course, there are nights where I can’t wait for them to get to sleep because I’m so tired.
The key is to be flexible when needed. Otherwise, as much as possible, stick with your set times, routines and rituals. It really does work!
And on a side note, I’m learning to enjoy these evening times with my kids, even when I am super tired because I know how quickly these special times with them pass by.
An Extra Tip for a Great Night’s Sleep
This tip isn’t part of our 5 tips for a successful kid’s bedtime routine, but we’re an essential oil loving family. Because of this, our evening routine wouldn’t be complete without a little Sleepy Head roller blend to help lull our kids into a great sleep for the night.
We’ve shared a few times different essential oils that help promote rest and sleep, as well as this DIY bedtime linen spray, but I happen to be partial to this roll-on!
Having a roller already mixed with a carrier oil to a safe ratio for children makes it easy to apply and takes the guesswork out of how to use it. Our Sleepy Head Roll-On already has a perfect blend of Cedarwood, Lime, Lavender, and Vanilla. Just roll on the bottom of the feet before bedtime.