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I used to be the mom who just laid her kids down for bed and expected them to cooperate.
And of course it never worked.
I thought that I was helping them learn to self-soothe. But instead I was just breaking my own heart by listening to them cry it out. I mean, I did plenty of research and the cry it out method was by far the best. Maybe for others! It was not for us.
The lack of a routine at bedtime was killing me. Not only did it take my girls awhile to get to sleep, but they also weren’t sleeping well. I knew it was time for a change. I couldn’t handle another night of broken-hearted sleep. So I did a little research on how to help my girls sleep better at night. And the most common solution I found online was developing a bedtime routine.
We try really hard to have our girls in bed by 9 every night.
Sometimes it works out, and other times they are up until 11. (But 11 is very rare!) No matter what time it is, we always do our bed time routine. Dinner, bath, books, prayer, and sleep.
Bath time includes roughly 10-15 minutes of play time and then a quick, but thorough, scrub from head to toes! I just bought these awesome bath toys that my girls absolutely love! (And I love them too because they don’t get moldy!) Once the babes are washed, we brush teeth and hair, put on lotion, and dress for bed.
And while I choose new books to read, the girls are sent off to give dad goodnight hugs and kisses. (I do this so I don’t have to fight them on books. Shhhhh.) If it were up to them, they would choose three of the same books every single night. And I just can’t do that. However, I do have a few favorites that stay in rotation:
And last, but far from least, we say our bedtime prayers, and turn on the fan, radio, and the best night light ever. Finally, I tuck the girls in their beds and give/get my goodnight hugs and kisses. And they go to sleep peacefully. This may sound like an exaggeration, but having a bed time routine with my girls has literally changed my life.
Yes, there are well researched articles about how a bedtime routine can benefit your child, but I am not pointing you in that direction. Instead, I will tell you how it has made an impact in our lives with the hope that you are inspired to create your own routine.
1. No more crying themselves to sleep.
My girls used to cry and cry and cry until I went to them, or until they fell asleep, whichever came first. It broke my heart every single time. I know that a little crying never hurt anybody, but not having comfort through your tears absolutely sucks! I didn’t want my girls to suffer through their tears anymore, but I also didn’t want to spend every minute with them until they fell asleep. Since we have had a bedtime routine in place, there has been no more crying AND I get to spend time with my awesome hubby!
2. More time to do whatever mama wants.
Even though I love spending time with my awesome hubby, I don’t spend every night with him. Sometimes I blog, soak in the tub, have a late night snack, create music, and/or whatever my heart desires. That’s the beauty of it. And more “mama time” means less stressful mama moments.
3. Better sleep for everyone.
Without a bedtime routine, my girls would rise all hours of the night, which caused late nights for everyone. Most nights we were desperate for a good night’s sleep. If you too are desperate for sleep and don’t have a bedtime routine in place, I highly recommend creating one that works best for you. It’s not going to happen overnight, but within a week (maybe two) you should start seeing changes in your home.
4. It creates happier days and behavior improvement.
I’m not sure if it is the better sleep, or the repeated trusted practice before bed, but my girls behave so much better now. I’m not saying they’re perfect, but they are pretty darn close. Maybe I’m a little biased. We still have to work on our attitudes every day, but who doesn’t. They’re tiny humans, and all humans are naturally defiant.
Overall, having an established routine has been a huge blessing to our family. Do you have a bedtime routine? I’d love to know what works for your family!