6 Steps To An Easy Bedtime

Bedtime Should not Be A Struggle, but often times it is

After a long day of life and kids, getting the kids to bed on time is the ultimate goal. But kids are smart and can figure out tricks to extend the process and manipulate the system to extend bedtime. And they’re good at this, very good at this.  Just as much as you want them in bed, they don’t want to go to bed. Sadly, it is just the way is.

Every Parents Story is different, yet the same

My hubby and I would take turns doing bedtime. One night, I would be in charge of bedtime, and the next night hubby would be. It would alternate every day. Make it fair for everyone. 

We both had our own routine for bedtime with the kids, slightly different.  One was the mommy style, and one the daddy style, but the general concept was the same, and the ultimate goal was the same.  Get the kids to bed.

Kids are smart, and they quickly learned our weak spots.  My kids managed to manipulate their dad into a much much much longer bedtime routine.  When he did bedtime, it could take up to 2 hours! And it made no sense to me because when I did it, it took no more than 15 minutes. I mean, PJs on, teeth brushed, one story each, and lights out.

One night after hubby finished bedtime I asked what was up? What was he doing in there for so long? And that is when we learned they had daddy wrapped around their little fingers and they were getting extra stories and extra bathroom breaks and more stories and more snuggles and the list went on… and on… and on… for 2 hours…

Sleep is important

Sleep is important for everyone.  Adults need a decent amount (7-8 hours a night), but little children need much more.  They are growing mentally and physically, and their bodies need sleep.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, toddlers (1-2year old) need between 11 and 14 hours, preschoolers (3 – 5-year-old) required 10-13 hours, and school-agers (up to 13 years) require 9-11 hours.  

And losing 2 hours of sleep at the front end, especially when wake-up time is set, can have a huge impact on mental growth and behavior.

The Solution

We decided we needed to make a plan.  A plan that both of us would stick to.  And as fun, as it was to have our own renditions of bedtime, this was where the trouble was starting.

So, we came up with a plan. A routine. A very simple picture solution. 

 

bedtime story

We made a check sheet for bedtime. Simple. It was 6 items:

  1. Pjs – clean pj’s on.
  2. Teeth brushing – teeth brushed.  Either alone or with our help, but teeth brushed.
  3. Final potty break – one last potty break needs to make sure no one wets the bed.
  4. Stories – bedtime stories are a must at our house.  We let each kid pick out one story.  
  5. Stuffies – final check to make sure all required stuffies/teddy’s are in bed and ready for sleeping
  6. Lights out – one last good night hug and kiss and lights out!

Every night, they had to complete the list and that was that. 

This Sound Too Simple!

 You’re right! It does sound too simple! But it’s a great solution to take control of bedtime. I laminated a chart with 6 rows on it. Each row had a picture depicting the activity that needed to be accomplished. My kids each got to mark off the item that they completed. Once the item was done, we moved to the next item. Once an item was done, there was no going back. 

A few hurdles along the way

The first day was fun, but after the second or third night, the little ones realized that they no longer had control of extending bedtime into a 2-hour event. So there was some push back, but we calmly explained the rules and that each item could only be done once. By the end of the first week, bedtime was back on a smooth 15-20 minutes from start to finish. 

Some Tips I Learned Along The Way

  1. This list works best if you use pictures. Little kids cannot read… so words are useless for little ones. 
  2. You don’t need to laminate the sheet.  You can just print off a bunch and use a clean one each night, or use a pencil. 
  3. If the kids participate they buy into it faster. We had some colorful markers that we could use in the check sheet so the kids had a blast making check marks on items that were done.
  4. The order of the first 5 items is not curial.  You can do teeth brushing after stories, or whatever works best for you. 
  5. Remember, you can only do each item one time. 
  6. Stay consistent!  Do not let the children walk all over you.  They will follow the rules if you do not break them yourself.  
kids bedtime
easy bedtime pin

Final Thoughts

I have lived through this with my kids.  These steps work. Just remember, you are the parent, and you are in charge. This is doable and you can do it! You just need to be consistent and make sure you follow through! You can win bedtime and have some semblance of an evening for yourself!  I promise!  If I could make it work, so can you!  Do not wait!  Start working on this now!

Was this Article Helpful?

Did you find this list on making bedtime easer helpful?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

If you liked this post check out some of my other parenting topics here.

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletters!  You’ll get inside tips on upcoming posts and additional behind the scenes details about what’s happening on the site!

This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. Amy

    This is great advice for any parent because kids are a pain in the ass to get to bed! Some nights mine go right to sleep and others, I’m fighting them to fall asleep before I do lol

    1. Katherine

      Kids are funny like that, and I don’t mean funny haha. But this worked great for my kids , so I needed to share!

  2. Rachel

    I love the checklist idea! I personally use checklists in my own life, so I can see this being great for kids! Thanks for the tip!

    1. Katherine

      I’m also a list person, that’s what made me think of making a list for bedtime with my kids. Thanks for reading!

  3. Kelly Krebs

    I love the idea of printing off the bedtime checklist and having pictures for the kids. This is such a great post! Thanks for posting it!

    1. Katherine

      The first list was just a list, and it didn’t work! I completely forgot that little kids can’t read! 🙈 but once I got passes that, it was smooth sailing!

  4. Reena

    I gave up bedtime restrictions during the pandemic and am struggling with getting my child to go to bed early. Thanks for this informative post 🙂

    1. Katherine

      I have tried to keep bedtime consistent during the pandemic, to keep things a bit normal… but now that it’s the Xmas holidays and we are in another lockdown, it might have to let bedtime be more fun some nights, too.

  5. Carrie Pankratz

    A bedtime routine is so important. We ran into the same problem with my husband… he took forever! lol. Now that they are in Jr. High, we still have a similar routine. It is a great time to talk about the day and pray with our kids. And even at 12 and 14, they still need some sort of checklist. Great post.

    1. Katherine

      Thanks for reading! I’m starting this over with my youngest, but the 2 older girls understand that it’s good to have a good nights sleep and a routine so it makes life much easier.

  6. Love the checklist idea! Such a great way to get kids involved and be proactive. Will definitely keep this in mind for our future littles!

    1. Katherine

      Once I put pictures on the list instead of words, it became a game and a race by the kids to get done first. It was great! Good luck and thanks for reading!

  7. Jody Savage

    I love your no nonsense approach. The checklist is so easy to understand. With three kids my two oldest slept like champs. My little girl though is a different story. It is so frustrating, no matter what we do.

    1. Katherine

      Kids are crazy little creatures and they are so quick to take advantage of a situation. I know when I’m tired I can forget to stay the course , and they take advantage of it right away! So I found this worked great! Thanks for reading! Hopefully your little one is getting better and you can get some rest!

  8. Debbie

    That is a super, amazing strategy.

    1. Katherine

      Thanks! When I first did it and it worked, I was over the moon! Now I’m pulling it out again for my youngest, and it’s working like a dream.

  9. Kasia

    These are such helpful tips for parents. I can’t imagine not only having to put yourself to bed but dealing with kids wanting to stay up.

    1. Katherine

      Kids are really good at having a surplus of extra energy at bedtime, and when you’re especially exhausted they are not tired at all! So this worked great! Even on the nights when they weren’t tired and we were exhausted.

  10. Melanie

    I will definitely try the checklist idea. Become more strict…

    1. Katherine

      The list is great! But i think it’s more about having a consistent routine than being strict. They had lots of fun with it and it kept us on task. You should definitely try it out!

  11. Natascha

    Thanks a lot for sharing these great tips!
    Bed time can be sooo stressful and these tips will definitely help

    1. Katherine

      It worked wonders for us! And has helped keep a consistent bedtime ever since. Thanks for reading!

    1. Katherine

      Thanks! My kids work bed under routines, even in non-routine situations. But at the end of a long day, this alway made it easier and everyone was happy.

  12. Valerie

    This is a great routine! Although I wish my ex and I would have taken turns for the bedtime routine lol -_- It’s so reassuring for the kids to do the same thing every night, and it makes it easier for the parents 🙂

    1. Katherine

      After a long day, especially when kids are over tired, this routine made it easy and avoided the extra chaos that would happen, and it worked great for the kids. Thanks for reading!

  13. ginene

    YES!!! I love this! I have two older girls and I see how this could have helped, and will definitely implement this with my little one!!

    1. Katherine

      It was a game changer at our house, and has helped keep the kids on task. Now that they’re older they are just used to a routine. And the youngest one is working on the checklist because he’s trying to push the limits. And so far, it’s working again.

  14. Niraj

    Oh God, this is so helpful. Some of the tips tried and tested by me and it worked.

    1. Katherine

      Thanks! I’m glad it worked for others too! And a kid in bed means happy parents!

  15. Corinna | Friendly Pantry

    I love the idea of having a plan that the kids help create! As a food allergy mom I sometimes use bedtime to tell empowering stories about food allergy life too.

    1. Katherine

      Now that the 2 older ones are a few years passed the check list, we try talking but currently they are more interested in family story time. But it’s a great idea to implement talking time. I will have to give that a try. Thanks for reading!

  16. Sarah

    I like the checklist idea! It took a while, but now we have a good routine with both kids.

    1. Katherine

      The checklist worked great for us! And it really helped us stay on track. It’s amazing how easily kids can derail end event they don’t want to do, especially bed time.

  17. hari

    I find this post to be practical.
    it will definitely be a helpful resource for parents.
    thanks for sharing.

  18. Britt

    I never would have considered making a bedtime checklist, but that’s a great way to create and stick with a routine. I love the idea of getting the kids involved, having them check off the activities as they work their way through the list. I am going to share this with a few friends that have recently expressed frustration with the nighttime routine at their houses.

    1. Katherine

      Thanks so much for sharing with your friends! I never thought of the checklist at first, but I’m a list person myself, so I thought, why not give it a try!

  19. Barshan Turno

    Needful content! Keep creating content like this.Tons of love for you.

Leave a Reply