A bedtime routine adds a little structure to the end of the day. For many kids, the routine gives them a comforting ritual that helps them wind down. Young kids particularly do well when the bedtime routine is the same each night. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all routine that will work for every family. The key to bedtime success is picking the night time routine activities that fit your family’s lifestyle. The age of your kids also plays a large role in what you do at bedtime.
Look over your family’s typical schedule and commitments. Consider the typical amount of sleep your child needs to be alert and energetic during the day. Use these factors to set a regular bedtime that you can stick to each night.
Write a list of the typical activities you do at bedtime, making sure to choose calming activities. The list might include reading, singing, bath, quiet game, talking about the day, praying or listening to music. Choose activities that fit your child’s interests and that you are able to do with him each night.
Ask your child for input on bedtime activities if she is old enough to have a preference. Getting her involved in creating the bedtime routine might make her more likely to embrace it.
Organize the activities in the bedtime routine in a logical order. For example, you might start each night with a bedtime snack, followed by bath time and ending with cuddling and singing lullabies. For activities like singing or reading books, decide on a number you will perform and do the same amount each night. If you decide on three books and three songs, stick with that number every night for consistency.
Write out a chart or schedule that shows all of the bedtime activities. Include pictures if your children are young. This gives your child a guide to follow and might encourage her to move through the steps more willingly. You can also turn it into a sticker chart, allowing her to place a sticker under each activity as she completes it.
Test out the routine for a week or two. Pay attention to how your kids respond to the routine and how well you can actually carry it out the way you wrote it out. Make any adjustments needed to make the routine work better for your child.