If you have little kids, you know how challenging bedtime routine can be. It also changes drastically as the dynamic of your family changes and grows. There are so many factors, like WHEN you are home, how many kids you have and their ages, how many adults are available to help, and the personality of each person in your family. But as our family has grown from 1 kid to 3, we’ve managed to learn that there are some key bedtime traditions that improve the quality and make our kids bedtime routine more streamlined. Currently we have a 5, 3, and 1 year old. I am a stay at home mom. My husband usually starts work at 5am and is home by 3:30 most days. So based on our family dynamic, this routine is what works for us! I hope by sharing this that you can get some good ideas to incorporate into your own routine at home!
I understand that each family is different. I’m not guaranteeing that this routine will work for you. But I do hope you can glean some good ideas from our streamlined bedtime routine for our kids!
Set alarms on your phone or device!
This is where the “streamlined” part comes in. Below I list every time that I have an alarm set on my phone and its title. I choose a cheery sound for the alarm or you could choose a song that you like! Once the alarm starts going off, you know it’s time to move on to the next thing. Before implementing this routine, we would often forget parts of our routine. Or the kids would take forever to finish a task, and before you know it, it’s 9pm! Setting the alarms was a game changer for our family because now the kids actually LIKE to follow the schedule!
3:45 Start Making Dinner
While this isn’t always a possibility due to events and other commitments, this is the big goal! To be home by 3:45 and be starting dinner. On evenings that we achieve this, the rest of the night almost always goes perfectly! In our family we take turns cooking, but most of the time my husband Marshal cooks (he loves it and is an amazing chef!). I know not everyone has the advantage of having their spouse home this early to help out, and some families are simply never home this early at all. If you have little kids and can swing it, starting bedtime routine with an early dinner is great! We usually are eating by 4/4:30 and finished eating by 5 (when the next alarm goes off!).
Highs & Lows – This is an important time that we include while we eat dinner. We take turns talking about our day and whether we had any highs (best parts of the day) or lows (bad/sad moments of the day). This is good family bonding time and an easy way to connect with your kids!
5:00 Devotion & Family Time
When that 5pm alarm goes off the kids know – it’s time for devotion! We all snuggle up on the couch and Marshal leads us in learning a bible story (we love this devotion book) and prayer. This is the most important part of the evening. I can’t imagine anything more important than teaching the kids that they are loved by their Father in heaven and reading God’s Word to them. When Marshal is at meetings or other commitments in the evening, I might have to lead devotion, but more likely we wait for him to get home and devotion time gets moved to a time that he is available, whether earlier or later.
The role of the father is vital to a healthy family and bedtime routine for kids. Do your best to have a father figure in your kids’ life, and make sure they are involved as much as possible. Adapt your own streamlined bedtime routine to fit in his schedule. You can read this article from Focus on the Family to learn more about the significance of a father’s influence.
After devotion we sing our hymn of the month. Each month we learn a hymn that they will likely hear in church at some point that season, and when they hear it and recognize it in church, I love to see their eyes light up with excitement as they proudly sing along. Church can be a challenge with little kids – that’s a whole different discussion – but this little act of singing a hymn together every night helps them be able to participate in church before they can even read!
Finally, whatever time we have left before 5:45 is when we spend time as a family. If we are ahead of schedule (sometimes the 5pm devotion alarm goes off and we’ve already finished devotion!) we have plenty of time to play outside or do a board game! Other nights we only have 5-10 minutes of family time, so we have a dance party to a couple favorite songs. We use our Sonos One speaker with Alexa, and the girls can request it to play whichever song they want! The Sonos can also sound your reminder alarms for you to move on to your next bedtime activity!
Every night the kids have 15 minutes to take a bath or shower. On weekends or nights we have more time, they usually can bring a bunch of toys in the tub and stay in there for like 45 minutes! But for a streamlined bedtime routine, I’m very strict about the 15 minute bath.
We use this 3-in-1 Suave Kids Wash. I love the way it smells, how it’s just one simple product (less clutter!) and that it has no parabens or dyes. They love it when I add Perfectly Posh bath bombs or salts to their bath.
6:00 Pajamas / Outfits
Time to get jammies on! Or, in the case of my kindergartener Cadence, she sometimes puts on her outfit for school the next day. That way she can wake up and go right down to breakfast without having to get dressed.
6:15 Chamomile Tea & Biscuits
Chamomile tea has many benefits, including helping your kids sleep better! We quickly boil water for tea using this electric kettle. With such an early dinner, my kids are always asking for a bedtime snack. We don’t do dessert at dinner time. If they’re gonna have extra sugar at all that day, it will be right after lunch, because sugar before bed = hyper children. So we give them Kedem Tea Biscuits with their tea!
We do add some honey to their tea (check out this raw honey!!!) which also has health benefits, anti-inflammatory and antioxidants, and we haven’t noticed that it keeps them awake like refined sugar does. I’ve also started adding Elderberry Syrup to their tea as an immunity booster and sweetener!
6:45 Brush Teeth
After they finish their bedtime snack they head right up to floss and brush their teeth! We use floss picks because they are easier for the kids to use themselves, which encourages them to remember to floss! Other than that nothing too exciting, just plain old toothbrushes and mint toothpaste 🙂 While they are brushing their teeth I will sometimes get their essential oil diffuser running in their bedroom. I like to diffuse Lemon + Lavender to clean the air and promote calm. Or I’ll do a few drops of Doterra’s OnGuard to boost immunity. Sometimes I put a drop of OnGuard on my own toothbrush before adding toothpaste, just to boost my own immunity and keep my toothbrush clean! But never put essential oils on your child’s toothbrush or in their mouth. Their little bodies are not ready to ingest essential oils.
7:00 Stories & Snuggles
The last part of our streamlined bedtime routine for kids is our story time. Lately I sit down with the girls and read them two chapters from whichever book we are on. Right now we’re reading the Jewel Fairies series by Daisy Meadows. Sometimes I read them picture books. This summer we’re going to read more Chronicles of Narnia. During this time Marshal and Malachi get some good father & son time looking at books or playing with toys. Then we switch! We turn off the lights and Marshal gives Cadence and Felicity each a good snuggle while I get Malachi to sleep. Then we say good night, give hugs and kisses, and the girls stay in their beds. They are very good about going to sleep, but if they aren’t tired yet…
They look at more books on their own! Cadence and Felicity each have their own rechargeable booklight that they keep by their bed. If they don’t feel sleepy yet we let them look at books in bed until they fall asleep. They each usually end up sleeping through the night with a pile of books on their bed next to them. They’ve been doing this since they were each about 2 and a half years old. The rule is when the lights are out, they have to stay in bed – unless it’s an emergency or they have to use the bathroom. They can read or play quietly in bed as long as they STAY in bed. They are both usually asleep within 30 minutes and sleep about 10 or 11 hours.
Between 7-8pm is when Marshal and I can take a step back and figure out what we want to do with the rest of our night! We usually save the dishes for that time, get caught up on any work or cleaning, and then hang out before going to bed!
I hope you found this post interesting and helpful! Let me know in the comments what bedtime routine looks like for your family!