Learn how the pros handle bedtime.
NATIONAL SLEEP FOUNDATION -- If you’ve ever wondered how mommy bloggers handle bedtime challenges with their kids, this is your big chance to get the inside scoop. Feel free to steal their tactics!
Ashley Barton, a mom of two kids (ages one and four) and a blogger at Naptime Tales
“We start our routine by having a small snack and drink (think Cheerios or crackers and milk) with a few minutes of movie time at around 8:30pm—my kids are late risers so they go down late. Having some quiet time is essential for my kids; they need time to relax from our busy days. Then it's potty time, teeth-brushing and a quick book for everyone in my daughter's bed. Usually, after the book, my husband will take my one-year-old son to bed and I will finish up with my four-year-old daughter. My daughter gets another longer book, we say our prayers, give hugs and kisses, and then it's bedtime; the lights go out around 9:00pm. My daughter has a ‘taggie’ or security blanket that she has to sleep with, along with a few of her favorite stuffed animals. My son likes to have another quick book then he likes to be rocked to sleep while holding a toy train. He has to have the toy train!”
Brianne Manz, mom of three kids (ages six, three, and one), and owner/editor of the Stroller in the City blog
"We have a small apartment and all three kids share a room so that's Challenge Number One. Challenge Number Two is: My husband travels a lot, so I often have to handle bedtime on my own and I've had to be a little creative about it. I put the baby to bed first, usually by 7:00pm. Then, with the bigger kids, we'll have bath time, read books, and brush teeth. My three-year-old always wants to fall asleep in my bed, so I let her, usually around 7:45pm; once she falls asleep, I transfer her to her bed and she sleeps there all night. My six-year-old goes to bed himself on the top bunk around 8:15pm. It's easier to put them to bed separately, so they don't just talk and giggle. I used to take a by-the-book approach, being regimented in our nightly routines and never letting a child fall asleep in my bed but it didn't work for us. When you have more than one child, you have to be flexible. This approach works for us and my feeling is: If it works, it works!"
Jessica Turner, a mother of two kids (ages three and six) and founder of The Mom Creative
“We have found routine to be so important. Kids thrive on routine, and as long as we stick to it, bedtime is generally an easy transition for our family. Our kids both go to bed, with the lights out, at 8:00pm. Typically after dinner we do baths, and then spend a bit of time together doing crafts or stickers, playing games, or reading books. Then we brush teeth, say prayers together—talking about the day and the blessings in it—and it’s time for bed. My husband and I tuck both kids into bed. My husband always makes a point to say to the kids, ‘You are brave, you are good, you are strong, you are loved’—which I love! It is such a tender blessing. We love ending the day in this way.”
Sarah Marturano, a mom of four kids (ages six, four, two and six months) and a blogger at Must Have Mom
"Our bedtime routine begins around 6:45pm. We have all the kids go potty and brush teeth (with the exception of the six-month-old). After they have done that, we give them fresh water for their bedside. If we give them only a little bit of water, then we don't have to worry about them needing to come out and go potty again until morning. First, the boys (two and four years old), who share a room, climb in bed and we say prayers and turn on their music (a lullaby cd). We give lots of hugs and kisses and talk about their day and then it's lights out by 7:10pm. Then my six-year-old daughter gets in bed. We read her a book and say prayers, and then it's lights out for her. She also listens to a lullaby cd, which acts as white noise and eliminates hearing what mom and dad are doing outside her door after she goes to bed. My six-month-old nurses at 8:00pm and goes to sleep after that in my room. He will sleep until midnight and then nurse again and sleep until morning. Sticking to a routine and not giving in when they want to come out of their room are both key. My two-year-old doesn't like to stay in bed, so we started putting a child-proof knob on his door, so he couldn't open it anymore. This prevented him from getting out of bed and resulted in a smoother bedtime since we didn't have to keep herding him back into bed."
Paula Schuck, a mom of two kids (ages 10 and 13) and a blogger at Thrifty Momma's Tips
"Our routine is extremely consistent and has been for years. I was always conscious of giving my kids a lot of activity throughout the day so they would be ready for bed at night. After a 6:00pm dinner, there is no TV, and screen time of any sort is discouraged. My kids have special needs. One is anxious and the other has sensory processing disorder so sleep, consistency, and routines are incredibly important to our girls. My older girl is 13 now, and she falls asleep (on her own) every night by 9:00pm. She might read in bed for a short time on her own beforehand, but it doesn’t take much. Some nights she brushes her teeth, asks for a back scratch, and then she’s fast asleep. My younger daughter had really chaotic sleep for the first three to four years of her little life. She thrashes and her sensory processing disorder means that she is just often out of sync with time and body rhythms. Plus, if the sheets were scratchy, she would wake, and if the lights were on, she would wake, or if she heard anything at all, she would bolt out of bed. Finally, after we figured out her diagnosis, we used a white noise machine in her room that drowns out noises and helps her sleep. We made sure her laundry is always washed in a specific detergent without a scent. She always has a snack before bed, usually brushes her teeth, and hops in with a familiar teddy bear and two cotton blankets. She often needs melatonin to sleep through the night. She always wants a snuggle and a story or two, and sometimes I work in her room quietly nearby until she falls asleep. She is usually asleep by 9:30pm."
Kecia Hambrick, a mom of two kids (ages four and eight months old) and a blogger at Southern Girl Ramblings
"The routine begins at 8:00pm (or as close to that time as possible, given the evening's events.) The boys take a bath together, and then one parent takes the baby and puts him in pajamas, gives him his bedtime bottle, and puts him to bed. The four-year-old has extra time to play, then finishes his bath, gets dressed, has a small snack (such as cheese and crackers, cashews, grapes, or yogurt), brushes his teeth, uses the bathroom, and does hugs and kisses. He gets into bed and one of us will read him one or two books (depending on their length), and then he goes to sleep. Leaving the door open until the oldest falls asleep is the only way we have found to keep him from getting up multiple times after the lights go out. Usually within 20 to 30 minutes, he's out and the door gets closed. Also, he has a stuffed Mickey Mouse that he snuggles with during the book and throughout the night. The oldest is asleep by 9:30pm. The youngest is usually snoozing by 9:00pm."
Jeannette Kaplun, a mom of two kids (ages eight and 11) and a blogger at Hispana Global
"We start our routine at 7:30pm. I don’t like to rush them, so I try to get them to relax and wind down at least an hour before the desired bedtime. The problem is that if my kids have been in after-school activities all afternoon and weren’t able to finish their homework, the only option is to delay bedtime, usually by half an hour. My kids take a bath or shower, have a snack (no chocolate or sweets!), brush their teeth, read, and then it’s time for me or Dad to tuck them in. I try to be consistent with both of my children because despite the age difference, my youngest wants to do whatever her older brother is doing. By now, my kids are already used to the routine, even if they don’t like it. The main trick is being consistent and telling them from the get-go what the rules are during the school year. Since they are older and can actually understand why we think it’s important for them to sleep, it helps them accept the schedule. Also, if they’ve been good and have finished their homework and reading early, they watch a bit of TV. But I give them a 10-minute warning before turning it off. We try to turn the lights out by 8:30pm, but usually they don’t really fall asleep until 9:00pm."