Managing Bedtime Routines with Multiple Children
Hi, I’m Sarah and I am new to the Bella Luna team! I am a stay-at-home mom with 4.5-year-old twin boys, Lane and Jack, and a 2.5-year-old girl, Lola.
Bedtime with multiple children has been an interesting journey. From the very beginning, I had to figure out managing bedtime routines with multiple children, since I went from 0 to 2 children. After Lola was born, I had to figure out a way to incorporate this new little baby into the bedtime mix.
To add to all this chaos, my husband is in the military and there are times he cannot be present to help me. Depending on whether he has duty or gets home late, or for instance, last year he was deployed for 13 months, if you find yourself solo parenting, it is best to have a plan in place.
Here are some of my top tips to help you with managing bedtime routines with multiple children…
Consistency is the key to stay in control without allowing the inmates to run the asylum. Consistency is basically the key to everything, am I right?
Children need to know that the parent is the one in control. Deep down children crave routine and appreciate knowing what to expect and when to expect it. This allows them to relax and not push boundaries as much.
Consistent is also important for the bedtime routine. You want the routine to be as consistent as possible each night. For example, our set routine is bedtime snack, bath, pajamas, brush teeth, potty, read 2 books and then hugs and kisses. Every. Single. Night.
If your children are younger and all have the same bedtime, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure bedtime goes smoothly and doesn’t drag on.
We want to have a quiet wind-down time where our children are not being stimulated by television or tablets. Also, we don’t want to be getting them all hyped up right before bed. This is a good time to do some puzzles, board games, imaginative play, read books, or color.
This is also a perfect time to connect with your children and give them some undivided attention and chat with them about their day. Connection time before bed makes it easier for children to disconnect at bedtime.
If your little ones are 2.5 years or older, I recommend holding a family meeting. This will prepare your little ones for the changes that are coming. During this meeting, you can make a sleep rules poster that also includes the expectations for the schedule. During the meeting, outline how things will change. This will allow your little ones to have a chance to process the changes and express their concerns.
“I’m Hungry.” Every parent’s worst nightmare right as you are about to say good night. My children plead for a cheese stick and then I say to myself “what if they really are hungry?” #momguilt
To set us all up for success, I try to anticipate what they will ask for as stalling tactics and integrate it into the bedtime routine.
To ensure that your little ones aren’t using hunger as a stalling tactic, before starting the bedtime routine, offer a bedtime snack. Think low sugar, protein/carb mix.
Let them know that this is their last snack for the night and then hold firm, knowing that if they say they are hungry, it is just a stalling tactic.
If possible, bathe kids and read books together. If my husband is home, we will sometimes divide and conquer but that is not always the case. I find it is easier to combine all 3 kids together to save precious time. If you find this is not working and your children are actually amping each other up, then consider splitting up bath time and finding quiet activities the other children can do while bathing the other child.
Taking a few minutes to set out pajamas and bedtime necessities ahead of time is incredibly helpful.
If your children require different bedtimes, consider getting the older child(ren) involved with helping the younger. Depending on the age difference, we can get the older children to assist with bedtime for the little(s). This could mean anything from helping with bath time or reading books.
Involving the older children with the littles bedtime will not only help them connect more but also keep them away from the screen time or any activities that may have the opposite desired effect from winding down for the night.
For families with multiple children, after-school activities such as sports can affect bedtime routine. For nights when you know you will be out later than desirable, consider a crockpot meal or a leftover night. Meal prepping earlier in the week or just throwing something in the crockpot earlier in the day can come in handy on these busy days to avoid dinnertime running into bedtime.
Wrapping It Up
Managing bedtime routines with multiple children isn’t always easy, but hopefully these tips will give you some insight to make the process smoother! If I can do it, you can too! Promise.
Need help figuring out your child’s sleep? We’d love to help you! Fill out our contact form to get the process started towards a better-rested family!
P.S. Want to stay connected?
Sign up to receive our monthly "Scoop" email newsletter!