Bedtime was a challenge for us when our family first grew from one to four children. There was too much wildness, too many tears, and a too tired Mama who desperately wanted a moment to sit alone and rest. I wrote this blog post, Connecting at Bedtime, about the nighttime struggle.
Four months later, we have a peaceful bedtime routine that has ALL the children in bed by 7:30 p.m., at the very latest.
Here's how I get 4 kids (5 to 3 years old) to bed early. There are about 4 nights a week, I handle bedtime all by myself because of my husband's work schedule, so I thought it would be useful to share for those parents who manage bedtime alone.
Times can vary by about 15 minutes either way.
- 4:30 - Kids come in from outside play and watch one kids' show on Netflix while I prepare dinner.
- 5:00 - Sit down to dinner.
- 5:30 - Clear the kitchen counters and put away food while kids' finish eating. Read one story to children.
- 5:45 - Everyone goes upstairs and plays in their bedrooms.
- 5:45 - Give one of the older two children a shower. The older two change into pajamas. The younger two get a bath after lunch.
- 6:00 - Help older two children with their homework or learning activities.
- 6:30 - Everyone comes back to kitchen for nighttime snack of yogurt or a glass of milk. I give vitamins. We either read a story or sing a song together.
- 6:45 - Everyone goes back upstairs. I help each child brush teeth, wash face & hands, and use the toilet. I help the younger two change into pajamas.
- 7:00 - While each child waits for me to tuck them into bed, they clean up their toys. Then they go in their beds and read.
- 7:30 - By this time, I have read a book, cuddled, and tucked each child into bed.
- 7:30 - I clean kitchen, put in a load of laundry, and then rest.
I respect that each family is different, and it may not be a priority to have your children in bed early. For my children, I find that a consistent routine makes bedtime go more smoothly. In addition, I find that when my children get enough sleep, they are more likely to make good choices with their behavior.
This routine didn't happen over night. It took a couple of months for one of my children to feel comfortable playing alone in the bedroom. And others needed to learn to not disturb bathtime or homework time by pretending they had to go to the bathroom. It was awhile before they all felt safe staying in their bedrooms all night.
This type of bedtime routine may or may not work in your family. I completely understand parenting a child with sleep challenges as I wrote about my first daughter's sleep issues in Destined to Cosleep. If you feel like your children need more sleep and you need more rest, a change in routine might help your family achieve an early bedtime.
What works for your family to keep bedtime peaceful?
Featured Posts from Sunday Parenting Party about Routines
Bedtime Routines - Goodnight Wishes by Happy Whimsical Hearts
When the Routine Changes - Vacation Anxiety by Taming the Goblin
Screen Time Routine - Teaching Responsibility by One Perfect Day
Calm Down Routine - Alternative to Time Out by Positive Parenting Connection
Now, it's your turn to share your parenting posts at the Sunday Parenting Party.
Thank you to the blogger of Keep Austin Nursing in Public for encouraging me to share our bedtime routine as a blog post. She was curious how bloggers managed to have time to write posts, and I shared that I have time once my kids are in bed.