Motherhood

What’s Your Child’s Bedtime Routine?

jerry-seinfeld-and-jimmy-fallon

Cup of Jo has been running for 13 years (!) so we’ve decided that every week, we’ll be highlighting one of the most popular posts from the past. Here’s one of our favorites, originally published on June 9, 2014…

Seinfeld was recently on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon talking about bedtime routines. It made me laugh out loud:

“When we were kids, our parents didn’t give a damn about us. They didn’t even know our names! But when I think of the bedtime routine of my kids, it’s like this Royal Coronation Jubilee Centennial of rinsing and plaque and dental appliances and the stuffed-animal semi-circle of emotional support, and I have to read eight different moron books. You know what my bedtime story was when I was a kid? Darkness. That was my bedtime story.”

What’s your bedtime routine with your kiddos? I want to hear the steps! Toby’s is insane, complete with back rubs, a glass of milk, stories read by Mommy, stories read by Daddy, stories read by himself alone in his room, challenges and questions from Mommy, requests for water… It can last an hour!

P.S. How to put a toddler to bed in 100 easy steps, and a book for sleepy parents.

(Photo by Megan Curry)

  1. Kristian Olson says...

    Our kid is 3 and has fairly recently been potty trained so we start off with: “Potty Bear” time , then bath, pajamas and 3 books (this might have to change to a time length because the books are getting longer); a small glass of milk and teeth brushing with Daddy. Then he’s put to bed by me and we say prayers followed by a lullaby. Feels like there’s a thousand steps involved but then I remind myself he’s only this small once and I will miss it when its gone.

  2. Heidi says...

    We don’t have a bad time routine for my 10 and 12 year old (basically when I get tired of whatever they are watching I say they need to go to bed). It ALWAYS turns into a nightmare of them fighting and screaming and me being frustrated because all I want to do is chill.
    This is making me realize maybe I need to engage with them for just a bit so they can transition to bed rather than an abrupt “bed time, love you”.
    Would love to hear from other folks with older kids on what works!

  3. Elle says...

    We’re not too far from darkness ourselves. It started really well with the first two, and then the third was a hot mess and a tranquilizer was about what we needed to get her sleep, and the fourth one was almost the same as third, but not as extreme. We lost our steam…

  4. Vanessa says...

    Bathtime, a couple of books, and then a bit of a comfort latch. Left boon is good for 1 Lord’s prayer, 3 Hail Marys and 1 Glory Be. Right boob is for a litany of people who loves her: “Mummy loves you. Daddy loves you. Grandma loves you. Grandpa loves you…” Love seeing her big dark eyes look at me as I tuck her up and quietly exit the room.

  5. Kaitlin says...

    My 2-year-old’s favourite bedtime story is our wedding photos, known as “Noces” in our bilingual family. My husband crafted this big narrative about a dragon and ogre being fought off by his grandparents (“the old knights”) and the German ambassador (a dear friend I lived with over there). She knows every one of our friends’ names…from a decade ago. I didn’t put much work into the album at the time, which is for the best as she’s pulled out half the photos, but I’m so glad that it’s become part of our routine for the moment.

  6. Lauren says...

    For our eight-year-old girl and ten-year-old boy, it’s bathroom, brush teeth, read a short book or a chapter of a longer book (right now it’s The Secret Garden and they are INTO IT; we’ve also done Hank the Cowdog and some of the Little House books). Then they put themselves in bed, and my husband and I switch off and do prayers and snuggles and a quick chat, and then it’s tuck in and lights out. We found that the whole thing had grown into an hour-long affair, so we try to keep it to 30 minutes now. (Note: at this age, I’m pretty sure I was putting myself to bed? But my mom stayed at home and we both work, so it’s precious catch-up time for us.)

  7. Betsie says...

    For our little guy (just 18 months) the routine is: take a bath (mama), lotions and jammies (daddy), 2-3 books on the beanbag chair with a cup of milk (daddy), lights out and pacifier, a song (daddy) – and that’s it! We just recently added sit on the potty chair for a minute to the beginning of the routine. I credit Taking Cara of Babies for driving home the importance of setting up a bedtime routine from very early on.

  8. Jackie says...

    God, Seinfeld is still the BEST and so on point. Did you read that piece by him in the NYT about New York going on? So great.

  9. Megan Johnson says...

    I won’t get into the boring details of my 8-year-old’s bedtime routine but I will offer what I’ve found to be a meltdown-preventing hack: If you kids are iPad obsessed like mine is, have them set alarms for their various evening tasks, like showering and turning out the lights and getting into bed. The trick is to have them do it–if you set the alarm, I think it can feel like an order, whereas if they set it, they feel more in control. I always do a little happy dance when I hear my daughter say to her cousin on FaceTime, “Hold on one sec. I have to go brush my teeth real quick.”

  10. a.n. says...

    my husband and i split almost everything 50/50, and bedtime is no exception. he puts our daughter to bed, who is 20 months, and i put our 5.5 year old to bed. so, for our daughter it’s just a little bit of milk, bath, 2-3 books, and lights out – easy peasy. our 5.5 year old gets 30 mins of TV on his own, tooth brushing, a book we read together (i read most of the page and he reads a few words), and lights out. we’ve been strict on bedtimes and routines since they were both born and it has made life WAYYY easier now!

  11. Priscilla says...

    Love reading these comments! With my 4.5yr old it’s a board/card game or a couple of books outside with dad or mum. Then goodnight to the parent who is not putting them to bed, brush teeth, two books (one bible story, one goodnight story), prayers and we finish off by singing “Jesus Loves Me” and tucking him in with a kiss and cuddle. He has 4 soft toys he must sleep with every night and they must be arranged specifically before he zzzz’s too!