Ok sometimes it 45 minutes if we spend extra time in the bath or read an extra book but 99% of the time, our bedtime routine takes 30 minutes or less. I’m not an expert and I only have one child, but I am sharing our routine and some tips in hopes of helping some of my friends and online mamas struggling with getting their children down for the night.
I adopted a bedtime routine very early on as in within the first 3 months. Why? Because I read all about the need for one and the “I will be the best mom ever” in me just knew my kid would be a non crying, non temper tantrum having, sleeping through the night princess. Yeah one can dream and reality always sets in. Want to know about that drama? Read part 1 of our sleep training tale. I’m still alive and thank God that’s over is what I think when I look back on those times.
Here are my tips:
1. Have a plan and stick to it.
I quickly discovered that a short bedtime routine works well with a child who is more aware, eager and busy. Yes busy. Whose toddler isn’t a busy bee? The longer the routine, the harder it is for me to settle her down.
Speaking of bees, I refer to our routine as the “Beezniz” as in:
Bath, Brush, Books, Blessings, Bed
Bath: A time is a great time to have a chat with you little one (even if they can’t talk), sing, practice the alphabet, numbers and body parts.
Brush: Includes me brushing, her “brushing” and mouth rinsing also knows as spits and giggles. This part cracks her up.
Books: 1-2 books, and a bible story from our Children’s Bible and Book of Prayers.
Blessings: Include the Lord’s Prayer or a prayer from her book and special prayers for our family, friends and the world.
Bed: I use to stay and cuddle until she fell asleep. There is nothing wrong with that so long as it works for your child. If staying will upset them once you go then skip it. Now after blessing I stay for 1-2 minutes then I lay her down and she drifts off in her own time with no fussing. I started doing this when she started walking. Why? Because the business of walking and running is exhausting for a toddler. At bedtime she is pooped. And so am I!
FYI: Of course we get dressed in between. In case you thought Zoë sleeps in the buff. LOL
2. Always Be Prepared
I always have nightclothes, baby wash, at least 2 washcloths and lotion with me. When we are out visiting family and friends, I do a modified version of our routine. This way when we get home, Zoë is already ready for bed and most likely sleeping. The only exception is if we are out in a public place past bedtime. Which is very rare. I don’t make plan for after bedtime hours because Zoë is not having it. She gets up at her regular time regardless so why disrupt her schedule. That makes for a cranky toddler (she is still a cryer) and I don’t need the extra anxiety or the urge to down a glass of wine. Seriously motherhood can make you pick up so crazy habits. I promise I don’t drink nightly. Only 1x a week. But I do think about a glass of wine often (every night)
3. I Promise It Gets Better
Did you read part 1? I’m pretty sure it is accurate but there could be 1-2 days I forgot to mention when Zoë had a relapse and “Crib Gate” got out of hand. Repeat after me moms (and dads): IT WILL GET BETTER. Stick to your routine as best as you can. Victory is imminent.
4. You Are Not A Bad Mom If…
You are not a bad mom, or the worst human been for letting your kid cry it out. You are not going to mommy jail for quitting the process and starting over another time. You are not evil. I swear some of the mommy forums are crazy. Ruthless and in my opinion down right B*^%#es of moms belittle other moms for how they choose to raise their children. Crying it out is not physical or mental abuse! Let me stop before the mommy —- get me. And if you choose to co-sleep or cuddle for a long time, guess what? You are not a bad mom!
5. It’s For Their Good
Children need sleep. It helps them grow, recharge and learn. Guess what? It’s for your good too. Nothing is worse than a sleep deprived mom. Sure in the beginning it is accepted but at some point that time passes and it up to you to make your home a good sleeping space for everyone. Said the chronic insomniac. But Zoë gets all 12-13 hours of her sleep and that makes me happy. I’m working on myself though.
One last tip: Bedtime is bedtime. It is not playtime. I know this can be hard especially for working moms but turn up the fun in the mornings instead. Fun time in the morning makes for a great day for everyone. However, if you can only get in your 20 minutes of reading during bedtime, then go ahead and make your bedtime routine longer. Reading time is very important.
Wait one more: Get up early if you can so you are not rushing and stressed. Kids respond to stress. Oh and you can squeeze in a quick morning workout for an even better start to your day. Yes I use to work in crazy corporate America and this may seem impossible, but trust me on this one.
Our routine may only be 30ish minutes but writing about it sure took much longer. I’m working on my chatterbox tendencies.
Share your bedtime tips with us. What works? What failed?