Being creative about bedtime routines can create lasting memories for both you and your children. The bedtime routine in my house is a lengthy process. With three boys there is a lot to do. However I find that adding on fun activities to our routine has turned bedtime into an enjoyable activity rather than a chore. There are a multitude of activities that you can add on based on the interests and likes of your family.
This is key. If you wait too close to their actual bedtime you may feel rushed and these activities could cut in on valuable sleep time for your children. My children’s bedtime is 7:30pm so we typically start a half hour before that in order to build in enough time for that extra story, or a little more snuggle time.
Where I live the air is so dry that bathing every day can be extremely drying on young children’s skin. However bath time is such an important part of a successful bedtime routine that we still do it nightly, we just use soap and shampoo only every other night. One of my twins has a slight allergy to some pollens which has caused him to have asthma. I find that the bath helps to remove any leftover pollen and other germs that are on his skin and hair after playing outside. I also like to add a few drops of lavender oil to the tub because I find the calming effect very helpful. It helps my boys start to wind down from the rigors of the day and start to get ready for bed.
This started for us about a year ago. My kids are such restless little monkeys before bedtime. My husband is a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan and had played them the Packers end zone song, Bang The Drum All Day (by Todd Rundgren) earlier on in the day. When it came for bedtime they begged for it again. So we turned off all the lights, gave everyone a flashlight to wave around, and danced around like maniacs for all three minutes and twenty-nine seconds of it. The kids had so much fun that they asked for it every single night for a week, at which point it became a part of our normal routine. It has the added benefit of burning off that last bit of energy remaining after bath time, tiring them out right before we want them to go to sleep. Choose a song that has significance for your family or any upbeat song with kid appropriate lyrics and start your own dance party tradition tonight.
Reading to children is incredibly important for development and word recognition, but also for the quiet moment that you get with your children. We let the kids pick a book to read on a rotating basis, giving each one a turn. We read the book with the lights off and let one of the kids hold a flashlight for us to read by. This cuts out all other stimulation in the room and outside the window. Whoever chose the book gets to sit in the reader’s lap. On nights where we have a little more time we let our 5 year old read the story. His 3 year old brothers think that this is the bees knees and it affords our oldest more reading practice. On the nights that my son doesn’t read I will read him a chapter of a more advanced book after his brothers are put to bed. This gives me some special time with my oldest, but also gives him the opportunity to read books that are more on his interest level.
One of my friends does this with her children. She has all the family members say what their favorite thing was that happened that day. This allows you insight into what is most important to your children at the moment. She says that it often leads to a bit of a competition between her children for who had the most awesome favorite thing.
My twinners love to sing songs together at bedtime. We sing everything from the ABC’s to rousing renditions of Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog. Don’t feel shy if you can’t carry a tune. Not only do your kids not care, but they can’t either. Sometimes my kids will just make up lyrics and laugh hysterically at how ridiculous they are. Singing with your children has hidden educational benefits as well. It teaches them about words that rhyme, memorization of letters and/or numbers as well as storyline cause and effect.
Take advantage of this while you can. Soon your kids will be rolling their eyes at how embarrassing you are, or be too busy texting their best friend of the week. We give each child a certain amount of snuggle time each night, making sure that we keep it fair.
Making bedtime fun not only gets the kids to bed without complaint, but creates lasting memories that both you and your children will cherish.
Destiny Effertz is a freelance writer specializing in the trials and tribulations of parenting multiples. She spends her “free” time formulating new pie recipes, throwing epic kid parties, and planning family vacations. For articles by Destiny on Twiniversity, click here.