13 Steps for a Foolproof Bedtime Routine

by Kathleen Siddell
Originally Published: 

Bedtime. It can be at once the most hopeful and the most cruel time of day. Some days it will love you with simple ease and tender timing. Other days it will slap you silly with screams and squeals and pleads for “just a couple more minutes.” It will trick you into thinking you’ve got it figured out, only to one day, without warning, turn your routine upside down. Bedtime is the time of day that sometimes holds the most promise and sometimes has you begging for it to just be over. If you too are suffering from a bedtime routine gone wrong, fret not my friend. I’ve got the answer with my easy 13-step plan for an absolutely foolproof bedtime routine. You’re welcome!

1. Start around 5 p.m. You know how it takes you WAY longer than you think it will to get out the door, so you almost feel like you need to start getting ready for the next outing as soon as you walk in from the last? Apply the same principle here.

2. Tell the kids the plan: dinner, play, bath, teeth, story, bed. Repeat. Again. And again. And again. You know how they ask you the same question over and over until they finally get an answer they like? Now it’s time for sweet revenge.

3. Watch them ignore you and continue playing. You know how wild animals on those National Geographic shows get super still and quiet before they pounce? Apply the same principle here.

4. Get everyone to the dinner table without toys, tantrums or TV. Pounce, mama bear! It’s time to pounce!

5. Promise that you will stop using dessert as a reward for eating vegetables. You know how all the parenting experts tell you not to use dessert as a reward to try to get your kids to eat dinner? Ignore them. And yes, we’re still only on dinner.

6. After watching dinner devolve into either tears or fits of laughter, tell them three more bites and then they’re done. You know how the terrorism experts say “we don’t negotiate with terrorists”? They don’t deal with the under-5s.

7. Ignore their questions about dessert and tell them it’s bath time. Hold your breath for the seconds it takes them to decide if this is a night they love or hate the bath. You know how you’re not really sure what to make of God? Pray anyway.

8. Either way, pour yourself a glass of wine. You know how all the mom blogs mention drinking as a funny and sad coping mechanism? They’re not wrong.

9. Turn on the TV while you get your strength up. You’re halfway there, and the next step is a doozy. You know what they say about kids and screen time? Surely, sweet Daniel Tiger does not apply.

10. Announce it is time to brush teeth. Try again tonight with your line, “the quicker you start, the quicker you’re done.” You know how your parents used to say stuff all the time and you never really listened but then you became a parent and said something that sounded so familiar you realize you really were listening? Smile, knowing that someday your kids will appreciate your wisdom.

11. DESSERT! Of course they didn’t forget (even though the teeth brushing takes HOURS). Stay strong. Don’t give in. They’ll survive.

You know how you watch a movie and it’s so obvious to you, the viewer, that the good guy is doomed but he obliviously goes down the dark alley alone? For the love of the God you just prayed to, turn toward the light.

12. OK, fine. But stick to a healthy snack. You know how people tell you that fruit can be just as satisfying as a chocolate cookie? They’re not fooling anyone. Even the terrorists.

10. Try brushing teeth again. You know how the good guy always survives but gets a little beat up in the process? Remember, you’re still the good guy.

13. Make a really big deal about how they can pick any story they want as long as it’s just one (even if it is the thickest book on the shelf). You know how that one time (wink wink) in college, you woke up fully clothed in your roommate’s bed, unsure of how you got there or when exactly you fell asleep? Feel young again in a few short hours.

Congratulations! You got everyone to sleep!

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