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How to create an easy bedtime routine for kids


pin for creating bedtime routines for kids.

If you’re wondering how to create an easy bedtime routine for kids, then read on! 

We’ve had our fair share of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth due to the bedtime routine blues. 

Toddlers that won’t stay in their beds, babies with colic, and overtired meltdowns. All of these at once….been there. 

From painful to peaceful…

I’ve been through the research mode and I’ve poured over many books. Now, 4 kids in, we have a pretty smooth bedtime routine that has worked well for years. 

An effective bedtime routine will look different for each family. The trick is to find what’s perfect for your individual family.

Here’s what we have found works well for us!

This is a bedtime routine for multiple kids of different ages. We have often had a new baby in the mix with older siblings and younger siblings all around.

*I should preface this with a note about our family. Daddy works shift work, and therefore we do bedtime without him some nights. I’ve had to simplify our bedtime routine to something that still works with only one parent, while still remaining consistent.*

The goal for me was to have our bedtime be as calm and peaceful as possible.

We were in a rut that did not feel calm or peaceful in the least. Especially when it was only young children, it would be all meltdowns at bedtime. It wasn’t working.

Something had to change.

small child laying in bed all tucked in.

The first step to creating a more peaceful bedtime is to start earlier. 

I was trying to do too much in the evening, and then getting frustrated when bedtime took longer than I thought it should. Everybody knows when little ones are up way past their bedtime they turn into gremlins!

What is “early”? Well, young kids need 10-12 hours of sleep every night. If you want them to be up at a certain time in the morning, then do the math backwards and come up with the ideal bedtime.

Allow a good hour for a smooth bedtime routine. 

Maybe you don’t quite need a full hour. But it’s a good starting point, then you can adjust as you see fit. 

In order to have a good bedtime routine, you have to be home.

I know it sounds like common sense, but I was missing this.

Too often I was trying to be out doing things with the kids and not calculating how long it would take to load everyone in the van, get everyone home, get everyone in the house, get everyone ready for bed, and get everyone tucked in.

When there are lots of littles, everything takes a lot of time!

It’s okay, we just need to account for the time. 

Starting a good bedtime routine process early makes it so much more peaceful and enjoyable, because you’re not just trying to hurry and “get it done”.

It has actually created a sweet space for some one-on-one time with each kid. It allows the time for those existential questions that get asked during tuck in.

You won’t feel like there isn’t time for these discussions.

In fact, this is a perfect time for these discussions!

Right after supper, we start turning lights down low.

Reducing blue light exposure is really important as well. Screen time is over for the day. No more dance parties, no more tickle fights, and no more “floor is lava” games. It’s time to get cozy. 

I like to do a “turn down” in the evening that includes closing curtains, turning on lamps and lowering big lights.

Take a quick pass through the house turning bright and loud into calm and quiet. It helps even the younger children get the idea that bedtime is approaching.

This quiet time also helps get that melatonin production going.

We have found that the kids actually resist bedtime preparations much less when we’ve made it less of a pain-point.

It’s a longer, and more calm process that isn’t something to dread. 

Plus, there is obedience. The bottom line is, we are the parents and we set the bedtime. Maybe it’s a good time to teach Ephesians 6:1.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” 

The ideal bedtime routine starts out with bath time for the younger kids.

Bath time is a great way to get them all relaxed and ready to get snuggled in. Even the bigger kids will benefit from a nice warm shower.

I understand not every kid needs a bath every single night. But on the nights when it’s feasible, those bath times will be a great help for bedtime calm.

Pajama time!

two little girls laying on the floor wearing red and white pajamas.

​Some experts suggest letting your kids pick out their own pajamas at bedtime to help them have a sense of ownership of the process.

We were so desperate at one time for any helpful bedtime tips that we started doing this. It has never been a problem, so we’ve continued letting the kids pick out their own pajamas at night.

This is your decision, of course, but it was one last thing I didn’t need to micromanage. 

Snack time.

I know I just said we get ready for bed right after supper, and that’s true! But this has become a way to completely remove any excuses possible to get out of bed after they’ve been tucked in.

They don’t have to eat a snack if they’re not hungry. But they always seem to want a little something!

If they’re not having a snack, they get a gentle reminder that they’re not allowed to ask for a snack after they’ve been tucked in.

Along with our bedtime snack, we give out magnesium gummies. These seem to work great. Some families do a nightly magnesium lotion before bed as well. That’s a wonderful idea if you have the time and energy to do so!

Brush teeth and go potty!

The big kids can help the younger ones get their teeth brushed while the baby gets changed into his sleep sack.

Parents, make sure to supervise teeth brushing with the “double-check”!

kid having an adult check their tooth brushing.

Before they leave the bathroom, after they brush teeth, make sure they go to the bathroom. Even if they swear they don’t need to! 

Some kiddos can make everything into an exciting game. It might be a good idea to have some of the kids stagger the bathroom time rather than all trying to be crammed in there sword fighting with their toothbrushes all together. 

​In an effort to be proactive, fill a water bottle for each kid.

To avoid any last minute “drink of water” requests we have a water bottle for each of the kids that they fill up every night before bed.

This has never caused any issues with bedwetting, but if that’s a particular struggle for your children then this is probably something to forego.

But for us, the water bottles take away one more excuse for getting out of bed after tuck in. This was the main problem with our bedtime situation.

​Don’t forget Blankie!

tan teddy bear laying under some covers on its tummy.

Next imperative is tracking down all the special blankies and lovies. For some reason, they always seem to go missing right before bedtime. We often call a search party until all the special things are found. 

​Read me a story.

After everyone is actually in their beds…it’s story time!

We are a homeschool family and absolutely love reading stories together. It never fails that the kids are always begging for another story (or chapter) at bedtime.

This is where that whole hour allotment for a bedtime routine comes into play. Maybe we actually do have time for another story or that deep question. It’s such a joy to create the space for such a sweet time of connection. 

mom reading a book to her son in a bed with a lamp on.

We have invested in some nice “look and find” books that the younger kids can flip through while we are reading our more advanced chapter books all together.

We do our reading time with the whole family because most of our kids sleep in the same room.

If you have kids in different rooms, you can decide if it’s important to have a family style bedtime story or if you will just read stories with the younger kids and then have a separate time of connection with the older children. 

​You’ll need to take into account the needs of each child, and what works best for your family.

​Some helpful tools…

Practically speaking, a sound machine, fan for white noise, and nightlight have been a great help for our kids.

I know some families that are adamantly against using such things, but they’ve been a useful tool for us. You’ll have to decide what you want to use for your family.

A little lavender essential oils is also wonderful to diffuse in their bedroom, but it is one more thing to try to remember. Sometimes the simpler, the better!

Kids (some more than others) love a consistent routine and need every bedtime routine to be (as much as possible) exactly the same.

​As the older kids grow up, we are going to need to stagger bedtimes. If it’s not quite in your realm of possibilities to have separate bedtime routines for different kids, than I have a suggestion!

After the initial tuck-in of our bedtime routine, the older kids can have permission to read in their beds for a few minutes (after the complete tuck-in process has taken place.)

Investing in a small, clip-on reading light is a great tool to have for the older kids that can read after tuck-in. They’re pretty inexpensive and the charge lasts quite a while!

Prayer and thankfulness to end the day.

small girl praying with hands folded by her forehead and elbows resting on the bed.

At the end of the day, we want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in our children.

We love to end our bedtime routine with a time of family prayer. This is not a big elaborate bible time, just an honest and thankful prayer for all the blessings of our day.

This has helped the children to really see the good in each day and be thankful, even if something didn’t go quite the way they would have liked.

God is so good and we have so much to thank Him for!


A late nap time can really throw off an early bedtime. It might be a good idea to have a family meeting to discuss when the best time will be for awake time for the younger kids. Sometimes you have to decree “no naps after 4pm!”

Bedtime routines can take a little bit of adjusting to fit your exact family’s needs, and help you achieve your goals for healthy sleep habits. 

Just keep adjusting as the seasons change!

There have been a lot of changes from the bedtime routine from our first child, to what our sleep routines look like now. We’ve tried an earlier bedtime, and later bedtime. And have come to the conclusion that slow and steady wins the race. 

You will find yourself adjusting the bedtime routines as the kids grow and enter new stages. This is all good and right!

Just take note of any particular pain-points and work to address those. Before you know it, you’ll have a great bedtime routine that is void of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

God bless you as you work to bring joy and order out of chaos and disorder. You’re doing a beautiful thing. Keep it up!

Hi, I’m Stephanie! I’m a Christian wife, mom of 4, homeschooler, and a technically trained chef. I love creating a simple, beautiful life with our sweet family.

I’m so glad you’re here!

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