Tired Kids? How To Create An Effective Bedtime Routine

Tired Kids? How To Create An Effective Bedtime Routine

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Do you have tired kids? Scientists have discovered that a consistent bedtime routine will help your child fall asleep faster and sleep better at night. See what worked for me and discover loads of tips that will help to craft your own bedtime routine.

Want to know a secret?

Consistent bedtime routines are a tired parent’s secret weapon.

Yes it’s true!

A recent study of 10,000 + kids world wide found that children who have a regular bedtime routine enjoy an earlier bedtime AND fall asleep faster.

I bet that sounds good?

They also sleep better than children who don’t have a routine.

Yes you read that right! SLEEP BETTER!

It seems that a bedtime routine helps cue children for sleep, because it prompts the body to release melatonin (nature’s sleep hormone).

Some helpful resources

But wait there is more!

The unexpected benefit of a bedtime routine

I created bedtime rituals for each of my children while they were still infants. At first I did it for myself. I knew that a routine would help my children get ready to sleep at the same time each night.

They would fall asleep and I would have some precious alone time in the evening.

The result?

My boys went to sleep quickly and I got my alone time.

But it wasn’t long before it hit me. That quiet space at the end of the day provided a sacred space for some deep one on one connection. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

Do you see where we’re going with this?

Not only does a bedtime ritual will help your child fall asleep easier and earlier. Something many tired parents really need at the end of a long day. BUT It can be also powerful tool of connection with your children.


Bedtime routine

So let’s get down to it

A bedtime routine does have to be long, or complex, in fact the simpler the better. Here are a few tips

First off

  • Turn off all screens at least one hour, preferably two before bedtime. The blue light from electronic devices interferes with the production of Melatonin. This is the hormone that makes us sleepy, so we do not want to prevent this from happening!
  • Create time for winding down. Transitions don’t always come easy for kids. So you can’t just announce that it’s bedtime and expect your children to be ready for sleep. Things like baths and stories create easy transitions.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to walk through the routine without hurrying. You never know when this will be the one night your child needs to talk about something really important, is in need of some affirmation and reassurance, or simply wants to be held for a while. This time together is precious, so enjoy it while it lasts.


  • Follow the same basic routine each night, but stay flexible. Let your child guide the process. Maybe they will need a few extra stories to calm down tonight, or want to talk to you about something. Don’t rush it.
  • Include some physical contact. We are social animals and physical touch has both mental and physical benefits. Appropriate touch like a hug, a kiss, or a gentle massage will benefit both children and parents.
  • Include at least one story, as reading together has magical powers of connection.
  • If you have several children you can gather in one place for most of the ritual, but do spend some time with each child as you tuck them in and say good night.

Beyond that

  • Let your ritual evolve as your children grow up. There will come a time when your children will feel that they are too old for a bedtime routine. Be respectful of their wishes, but make sure that you still make time for a moment of connection as they go to bed. You might provide a last snack and hang around in the kitchen for conversation. It’s amazing how profound those talks can be. Otherwise a hug and word of affirmation as your older child goes off to bed can provide a much-needed moment together.

Related: 5 Beloved Books Parents Should Read To Their Kids

What’s the magic formula?

There isn’t one. You just have to find out what works for your children and do that. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard is to look for progress not perfection.

Let me give you an example of a simple routine

I created bedtime rituals for my children at a very early age. Our routine went something like this

  1. Everyone scampering up the stairs with me in hot pursuit threatening to tickle their feet. (A little bit of fun that begins the transition and got them upstairs with no fuss.)
  2. Bath time with lots of water play (Starting to calm things down and send the message that it is bedtime)
  3. Story time with an abundance of cuddles and wonderful books (More calming activities and that all important physical contact)
  4. Lingering for quiet conversation (quiet moment of connection)
  5. Tucking them into bed with a hug, a kiss, and a prayer. (The signal that now it is time to sleep.)

It took about 45 minutes and at the end of that routine they went to sleep quickly and I enjoyed a couple of hours of kid free bliss!

Now it’s your turn

Figure out what will work for your family.

There will be nights when things are not perfect. Your kids will get tired and grumpy. You will get tired and grumpy. Don’t stop! It takes a while to establish a routine. Keep doing it until you find one that works for you.

So why not give it a go?

Working on a peaceful bedtime routine for your kids will help everyone feel connected as a family AND get your kids to sleep with no fuss. That’s got to be worth the effort right?

Can you help?

Do you have a bedtime ritual? What do you do? How does it help you connect with your children? Do you have questions? Please join in the conversation in the comments below.

bedtime routine


9 thoughts on “Tired Kids? How To Create An Effective Bedtime Routine”

  1. The memories of my daughter’s nigh-time are some of the strongest and fondest memories I have. Similarly, when I was a child more that 50 years ago, my father would read to my sister and I prior to bedtime. He would read from a large Bible story book, that I still smell. Those are cherished moments for me and of me.

  2. I have a 2-year-old and bedtimes are currently a big struggle. It was so nice to read this and be reminded both that I am building her memories and also that it will not always be exactly like it is right now. We do have a routine, but I think we are needing a shift into some new aspects and maybe a bit more freedom for her to let me know when she’s tired instead of me telling her when it is bedtime. I crave my adult time after she goes to sleep so that’s going to be hard for me to try!

    1. Sharon Harding

      It can be hard finding that balance eh? I found that all my children spent most of their second year establishing their independence, which is really healthy, but it can be a struggle at times. I found that our routines really settled down around 3 years. Just be reassured that you are building memories and connection right now. That is so worthwhile.

  3. Sharon, this is an important post that I will share with others. My grown sons and I still talk about how special bedtime was for all of us. At the time, I wondered if reading to them would instill a love of literature, but years later, I realized it was so much more than that – it was a time to be still and just be together – and that was priceless.

    1. Sharon Harding

      There is something really special about reading together- it’s a gateway to connection

  4. We actually just had a change in our bedtime routine: if the “getting ready for bed” part is going smoothly our daughter is allowed to read one book (just one ;-)) after we said good night for as long as she wants. We were hoping that it would a) make the getting ready for bed part easier – which it did , b) decrease the “call backs” after we said good night – which works on most nights and c) puts reading as something great and desirable. And – here is the real surprise, so far she always called “finished” after a maximum of 20 minutes! I’m happy to give her those extra 20 minutes (which sometimes is still earlier then on the “lots of drama when getting ready for bed” evenings) and she has the feeling it is her decision to sleep now. Win-win 🙂

  5. Our bedtime routine is one of the highlights of our 6 year old daughter’s day (even though it means she’s about to go to sleep). It is a comforting thing for her to know exactly what we will be doing and “remind” me what is supposed to happen next. Her early life with her biological mother was chaotic, so she really thrives on routine and consistency. We keep adding things, so the routine gets longer, but it’s actually fun for all of us to “get the sillies” out before bed.

    1. Sharon Harding

      Oh it sounds wonderful! what a lovely thing for you all to look forward to each day.

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