With the go-go-go culture that comes with having kids, getting everyone into a consistent, functional bedtime routine can be especially challenging, especially with after-school activities, homework, and dinner. While it's certainly true that children need a nighttime structure — particularly when school's in full-swing! — it can be difficult to wrangle our kiddos at the same time every evening. Rather than leaving moms and dads to their own devices, we opted to tap the parenting community to see if they had any tips or tricks for getting little ones off to bed. Here's what they suggest.
Ease into bedtime with books.
"I read books with my daughter in her room, and once she crawls into my lap, I know she's ready to go into her crib. Then I just lay next to the crib until she falls asleep." — Cynthia Puleo
Invest in a white noise machine.
"I have a nightly routine with my 3-year-old, or he thinks it's playtime! I give him a bath, put on his PJs, read him two books, and then put on our sound machine which plays white noise. We've been using the same sounds since he was an infant. He's the world's lightest sleeper, so we need some buffer noise to watch TV without subtitles!" — Brooke Lipner
Time your children.
"Now with two kids in a room, it's never easy. We have a general plan, which goes like this: going to the bathroom, washing their hands, putting on pajamas and their clothes in the hamper, brushing their teeth and drinking water, getting in bed, and reading stories. When things were really bad we even printed it out with pictures next to each item, and they'd get a sticker for doing everything in order. I also started setting a timer and if they went over the allotted time, they wouldn't get stories. It was highly motivating!" — Kate Schweitzer
Reinforce that it's bedtime and tell your kids you love them.
"When my kids were little we had a specific routine. They had a snack 30 minutes before bedtime and then we gave them a bath. Afterwards, they got into their pajamas, brushed their teeth, and were read a story. When it was lights out, I'd remind them to close their eyes — believe it or not they don't understand that to sleep the eyes need to be closed! — and remind them that I love them and to have happy dreams. We'd also say, "no coming back out" unless they were sick or there was an emergency. None of this going in and out of their room business and delaying sleep!" — Sandy Rogers
Sign off with a little bit of face time from a parent.
"Books, snuggles, and a daily promise of one-on-one face time with my husband or me! We made it a joyful time rather than a power play, it's a great time to talk to your kids and parent!" — Tracy Mattei
Consider incorporating music or a light show into your routine.
"Get into a bedtime routine ASAP. We started with bath time and read a few books before having the kids lay down with a monitor that played music and a light show on the ceiling." — Melanie Feretich
Stick with the routine, regardless of how difficult it may be.
"Follow through and don't give in! Be consistent. Even when they're less than a year old they understand structure and anticipation of what comes next. Keep doing the same thing and they catch on fast." — Emmanuel and Kathi Rodriguez