We’re back again this month with the Real Talk with Real Moms series! I’m honestly humbled to be a part of this crew of incredible mothers, each different and amazing in her own way. Be sure to check out all of the other posts on today’s topic!
I love sleep. Looooove sleep. And I know about myself that when I’m short on sleep, I’m definitely not at my best. I’m angry, irritable, and foggy. So I knew as soon as we had kids that I was going to help them be great sleepers, so that the whole family would reap the benefits. And I think I can safely say that we did it (knock on ALL THE WOOD). So let’s get into this, because I know so many moms who are just distraught over lack of sleep, and my heart aches for them. Truly. I always say that there’s a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. Because it is torturous. So if you’re a mama who need some backup in the sleep department, I hope our sleep + bedtime routine for two kids shines some light on tricks that you can use to help.
Let’s start at the very beginning. Our kids are now 4 and 2, but waaayyy back in the beginning, we did what I consider to be “light” sleep training. You can read an extremely detailed post on our sleep training process right here. This covers everything from schedules/routines to swaddling, crib transitions to dream feeds, and more. If you have new babies, READ THIS POST. Over and over. 🙂
I should also add here, that I know sleep training isn’t for everyone. We made the choice because it was a priority for us, and it needn’t be for all families! We had a great experience with it. And it’s worth it to explore what’s right for your family.
But! Now that we’re on the other side of all of the sleep training and our kids sleep pretty much from 7:30pm to 7am, we’ve fallen into a nice sleep and bedtime routine. Please understand — it didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen accidentally. Like I said before, I put a major concentrated effort in the sleep department as an act of self-care for our family so that we would all be rested as much as possible. It’s a long process but so, so worth it.
Our Sleep + Bedtime Routine for Two Kids
Our sleep + bedtime routine for our two kiddos starts about half an hour before bedtime. So right around 7pm we give a little verbal heads-up that we’re going to be tidying up the house in a few minutes. (Yes, we tidy the house every day before bed. Or I would go insane.) We start tidying – the kids call it “clean-up time” – and it takes about 5 minutes if we all pitch in. We just make sure all the toys are picked up and the house is vaguely in order.
Next? Jammies. We take Maggie (2) to her room and help her get changed. We tell Henry (4) to go get himself changed. This is where it sometimes starts to go off the rails if Henry is feeling disagreeable. He’ll try to con us into changing him, but for the most part we insist that he do it himself. He’s perfectly capable; it’s just a little play for attention that he sometimes makes.
Next stop is teeth and potty. We brush Maggie while Henry starts his teeth and we finish for him to make sure he didn’t miss any spots. Everybody goes potty and then it’s off to their rooms. Something to note: I say “we” here because both Ryan and I are usually both home at bedtime. But when we’re solo, this is where the routine deviates. If we’re both home, each of us puts one kid to bed. We say prayers, then each kid gets two short books in their own room. Then Maggie likes a song and Henry likes for us to lay with him. We put a time limit on it for Henry and lay with him for two minutes (or it would go on forever). If only one parent is home, we read books all together, then the parent takes Maggie into her room for a song and comes back to Henry’s room to lay with him.
I would say 95% of the time, they stay in bed. They don’t tend to pop out unless they have to use the bathroom or if it was a particularly exciting day and they’re still a little wound up.
Why Create a Sleep or Bedtime Routine?
But the real point of the routine is to wind them down, and that’s why we stick to it so specifically. We’ve been doing this same routine since Henry was a baby, truly. Prayers, books, song/lay down, sleep. I even used to have a catch phrase that I would say to him every night so that he’d be cued to sleep: “Have the sweetest dreams, sleep all night and I’ll see you in the morning.” I still say it sometimes.
I think the routine is also why they tend to sleep really well when we travel — we keep the exact same routine no matter where we are, so they are mentally prepared for bedtime. We take small bedtime books with us wherever we go, and do the whole shebang. It’s a lifesaver.
On Sleep Routines and Creating Good Sleepers
I also always say: you have to have a routine to break a routine. In other words, if there’s no standard set for the kiddo, they don’t know what to expect and won’t respond well when there’s a special circumstance. So if you need to push bedtime an hour later because you’re out at dinner, a meltdown might not be far away. But if you have a well-rested kid who knows the nighttime drill, they’ll probably be equipped to handle those types of deviations a lot better. I’ve found that this is especially true when it comes to travel for our kiddos.
Another thing I’ve found is that routine makes amazing sleepers. If your kid has a really great sleep routine and sleep cues established, they’ll sleep anywhere — on planes, in hotel rooms, on road trips. If you run through the routine and mentally prepare them, the headaches of missed naps or super-prolonged bedtimes won’t be an issue at all.
Can you tell I’m crazy-passionate about this topic?! I just feel so strongly that getting a good night’s sleep is an act of radical self-care, especially in a world where pushing yourself beyond reasonable limits has somehow become glorified. I value our kiddos’ sleep so greatly for so many reasons. Sleep is when so much brain development occurs, especially at a very young age. And it gives the adults time to be together, to be quiet, to live their own lives for a bit.
Hopefully some of this rings true for you, or you can implement some of our routine in your own home! Do you have a bedtime routine for your family? Is it working for you? Leave a comment and share your story! And definitely check out the rest of the posts in the Real Talk with Real Moms series below — there are some gems in there! xoxo