Reclaim Bedtime! The Nighttime Routine That Works for Us

Reclaim Bedtime: Our Nighttime Routine that Really Works

You know the stereotype: I have young kids, so I must be sleep-deprived to some extent, right? But that just isn’t the case in our household. My kids are 5 years old and 10 months old, and every night without fail, our children are asleep by 7pm. And no, they don’t wake in the middle of the night!

How in the world do we manage this? I will mention that I attribute our success with bedtime to a few things. First, our kids are just good sleepers in general. Second, our oldest wakes by 6am, and this means she is really ready for bed by 7. Also, the baby doesn’t nap after 2pm. Between picking up kids from school and making dinner, there’s really not any time for him to take a nap anyways. This ensures he’s quite tired by 6:30. Third, I have to give a lot of credit to my husband. He is such a great father and developed the majority of this bedtime routine, this structured routine we do the same way, every single night. We do a couple of things that may seem trivial or unusual, but they’ve helped us establish a routine and set up expectations for the children.

Here’s a peek into our bedtime routine and what works for us:

5pm: I cook our dinner while my husband plays with the kids. While dinner is cooking, the down time allows me to do chores in the kitchen and dining room as well.

5:30pm: My daughter eats her dinner while one of us sits with her to talk about her day. The other parent takes care of the baby during this time.

6:30 pm: We turn on the exact same TV show. Every. Single. Night. We turn on The Big Bang Theory. Yes, we’ve seen the episodes a hundred times, but we do this for a reason. It acts as a sort of timer and tells everybody in the house that when the show ends, it’s bedtime–no questions asked. It’s also a cue to let our oldest know that bedtime is approaching, so she’s not surprised when it’s bedtime. Our oldest usually plays with Legos during this time. The baby goes to bed sometime in between now and 7 pm. Some evenings my daughter will actually say “I’m tired. Can we turn on The Big Bang Theory?” It’s awesome that she recognizes when she’s tired and ready for bed.

7pm: Once the TV show ends, I give our oldest a hug and kiss and say goodnight.  We send her to go use the bathroom, and afterwards, my husband brushes her teeth (to make sure her teeth get really cleaned). She usually runs into bed and my husband sings her a song; again, it’s the same one every night ever since she was born. They do hugs and kisses and my husband says goodnight.

To put the baby to bed, I turn on his white noise machine, lay him in his crib, give him a pacifier and then cover him with a blanket. I do these things in the exact same order every time so he’s aware it’s time to sleep.

That’s it!  A structured routine may not work for you, but it works like a dream for our family.  Maybe it inspires some new ideas to try with your kids.

This routine done together as a family allows us to really appreciate each other and enjoy our time together.


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Samantha is a stay-at-home mom to Lily and Isaac. She is originally from San Antonio, Texas but moved to Iowa when she started attending the University of Northern Iowa. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English and Special Education, and loves the opportunity to mentor other parents in the special needs community. She enjoys knitting, reading, and baking in her free time.