The bedtime routine. If you ever came in close proximity to a nighttime parenting book, you know that bedtime routines are an important step in getting children to sleep.
Or at least that’s what they tell you…
I’m not calling all those people who write nighttime parenting books liars, but… well, if I was writing a book like that I would definitely include some lists of stuff for you to do because I know that checklists help people feel in control of their lives.
But let’s circle back to that, shall we?
Instead, let’s focus on bedtime routines. I am a fan of them, let me tell you. In fact, although I am kind of a scattered, slacker mom, I am obsessed with my bedtime routines and quite grumpy when they are interrupted by any outside force.
What does a bedtime routine look like in my house?
Well, when I had a little babies bedtime would look something like this:
- Fresh diaper
- Hugs and kisses (It’s just fun to hug and kiss a baby, so take all your chances to do so.)
- Lights out
Now that my kids are a little older, it goes a tad differently, but same basic deal.
The bedtime routine with older children consists of:
- Dinner prep and eating
- Showers or bath
- Jammie time!
- Reading/scriptures/prayer/family time
- Hugs and kisses (yes, they still need them)
- Teeth brushing
- Lights out
With my kids now preparation for bed really starts around 5pm and I shoot to have them down by 7.30 or 8pm.
I really hate disruptions to the bedtime routine.
For example, now that my kids are older and in school I have monthly parent nights at their school which inevitably fall between 5.30 and 6.30 – right in the middle of prime bedtime routine real estate.
It pretty much ruins my life. UGH. I hate that.
Everyone gets to bed later and dinner is usually take-out. Not a fan.
One would think that with my years of experience being a mother and my anal retentive obsession with not mucking with my bedtime routine that 12 years in things would be sailing along in perfect order.
Every night the children are shocked- shocked!- that they need to brush their teeth.
What is this cruel punishment! Why is it required?! They must act as though this is torture and waste toothpaste or avoid brushing. They must! They demand FREEDOM from the tyranny of constant brushing!
When, after the routine is all finished and I send them off to bed a few things happen:
- They linger in the living room or kitchen.
- They make conversation. “So, how was your day, mom? How ‘bout them Nicks?”
- They remember homework assignments. “Oh, I forgot – that huge project that involves complex woodworking is due tomorrow. Can you help me??”
- Crying. Because tired kids cry. It’s the rule. In fact, it works on adults too.
- Fighting. “She stepped on my pillow! She turned on the light! She won’t stop talking!”
- Yelling. (See above.) Ironically, the yelling is often at someone who is “keeping them awake.” They must think I am tricked by this and don’t notice that yelling actually keeps everyone awake. This isn’t my first rodeo, kids.
- Turning on of lights after lights out. Repeatedly.
- Bracelet making. (What can I say – I have three daughters. Craft projects must be done after dark! All artists understand this!)
Eventually, I can only assume they fall asleep. At least the level of noise diminishes to the point where they are either sleeping or carefully plotting a hostile takeover via morse code flashlight signals.
So, the question of the hour – do bedtime routines actually work?
Well…this jaded mom of four who STILL STRUGGLES TO GET KIDS TO BED EVERY NIGHT says this…
Bedtime routines work in that they establish a safe and expected rhythm to end the day for you and your children. I firmly believe that rhythm is in important part of a healthy life for all of us.
That is why people look forward to their morning cup of coffee, picking the paper up off the driveway, running in the crisp, dawn air. It’s not just that those things are nice or we need caffeine – it’s that we find comfort in the everyday things that ALWAYS happen.
It’s a good feeling.
We like to feel a little bit in control of our lives. It strokes the ego.
Yes, bedtime routines work in helping establish your home and your life as rhythmic, comforting, and safe. This is invaluable.
Do bedtime routines ensure that your children will immediately fall asleep as soon as you say goodnight?
At least not in my experience.
But who knows, it could happen.
And I could start dating Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.