I am so happy to share this post I created as a Suave Kids partner. The Disney, Frozen and Star Wars trademarks are used by Unilever pursuant to a license agreement with The Walt Disney Company. All rights reserved.
Is it 7:30 yet? We’ve all thought it and dreamed about the quiet moments at the end of the night that are finally our own. The kids bedtime routine. It holds magic and yet can be filled with so much frustration at the end of a long day. Here are 10 ideas that can help freshen up your kid’s bedtime routine and help the night go a little more smoothly. Now of course there are nights that all of these things are impossible to achieve or you might get somewhere near your goal and that is fine. But, my hope is that this post will give you new, fresh ideas to tweak whatever approach you may be currently trying.
Bath Time Tips
It is my understanding that children only need to be bathed every other day or so unless they are getting into something messy. We live in a dry climate and this helps to protect the natural oils in their skin and scalp. I do know some who will bathe their child every night and others who will only bathe their kids 1-2 times a week. For our family we have found that 3 times is best. Sometimes it is a little more, sometimes it is a little less.
Designate a bath night. It is best to find nights that are work with your schedule and stick to that routine. Our oldest, Jackson, has karate 2x’s a week and gets really sweaty that night! We decided we would make his karate nights bath nights and then also make Saturday night bath night so the kids are nice and clean for church the next day. The kids appreciated knowing when the bath nights were so they knew on those nights getting ready for bed would take a little bit longer.
If you have a fussy baby and you are trying to establish a bed time routine to increase sleepiness baths every night can be helpful. Remember that your baby’s skin is more likely to dry out so it is important that you are not using soap for every bath and you make sure to moisturize their skin. Baths are a great tool with helping babies to sleep.
*Bonus tip: throwing your baby’s pj’s or wrap can help with induce that warm, sleep effect too if you are in a time crunch or you want to give a double whammy in sleepy inducing.
Start at the same time every night. This one is HARD for us. The night can slip away so quickly and I find that I will keep my kids up longer than I should on nights when I know their dad will be getting home late. We try our best to start at 7:00 on bath nights to give the kids enough time to play and enjoy the bath. If you have older kids they may not need as long, but you may need to leave time for them to get in their nightly reading.
Time to Play. Incorporate play into your night time routine. I find that our nights go much more smoothly when I have time for the kids to enjoy the bath. If I rush them they always end up kicking and screaming when it is time to get out of the bath. I have also found that the kids are much more likely to want to get in the bath if they have toys in the bath that they love to play with. We recently started using the new Ubbi bath toys that love, they can come apart so they don’t get nasty mold build up and you can even wash them in the dishwasher.
Another added bonus is if you use the toy holder as a barrier between your kids. My kids love to get in the bath together. This can save time and the kids love to play together, but sometimes they just need their own space too. I love putting this divider between them to give them their own designated space.
Make Washing up Fun. We love finding shampoo/conditioner that makes our kids happy when they see the bottle. For my daughter it is anything My Little Pony and for my sons it is Star Wars. I love the new collection from Suave that offers a shampoo/conditioner/body wash in one. It seems like the baby shampoo just isn’t cutting it anymore once my kids get a little bit older and a little bit dirtier!
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The no-tears solution to rinsing out shampoo & conditioner. Rinsing out the hair can at times feel like an olympic event! Why must they fight it so?! There are two different products that I use to help rinse out my children’s hair and they have been life savers. The first is a special shower head that is shaped like a shark head and is connected to a long hose so that I can spray their hair out no matter where they are in the bath. It has an easy switch mode so I can turn the water back to faucet mode if I wish. The other is a simple water boat that we use when the kids are in our “big” bath that we can move around and it doesn’t freak them out to much. I would seriously install a shark head on every bath faucet if I could!
Multi-task in the bathroom. I don’t always do this, but if I am in a hurry I will read the kids a story while they are in the bath. They will listen a little more attentively sometimes as they keep their hands busy playing with a toy. Another thing I have done while waiting for my children to finish bathing is straightening up the bathroom and giving the toilet a quick scrub. Of course it is vital to stay in the bathroom with small children at all times. If you are looking for a way to relax during this time you can listen to an audio book or even your favorite pick me up music. I cannot tell you how many times my wireless headphones have saved me when I am busy doing chores around the house. It helps the work go by so much more quickly and I make sure I can still hear my kids and the audio book at the same time. Again, I don’t always use them, but if my kids are down for a nap and I want something to entertain me while I fold the laundry it has been a life saver. My favorite wireless headphones are these.
Give your older child the option of a shower or a bath. For some strange reason it is often times my oldest son that I have a hard time getting into the shower/tub. I am trying to conquer the bathing process with everyone getting done at the same time so I have found that if I give him the choice of how to bathe he is much more willing to do it. This is always preferable to the alternative. 🙂
Read a book or tell a story. My kids love having a story read to them before they go to bed. If we are short on time I will offer to read to them while they play in the bath. It can be a fun way to mix things up and makes the process go a little faster if you are in a time crunch.
Alone time. You let me know when you’re ready to have me come and tuck you in. I read an article once about the bedtime battles and this was an idea that I have always thought was really clever. We have done it before and it works. The problem for us is we need to get in a better habit of allowing time for this to take place. So the idea is this: you have your child get ready for bed, p.j.’s, teeth brushed, book read, whatever it is that you do. Then you tell your child that they can have some solo time before you tuck them in and they can let you know when they are ready for you to tuck them in. The deal is that they cannot come out of their room and they cannot bother another sibling. If they are in the practice of doing this the idea is that after 5-15 minutes alone they will be ready for lights out and you can avoid the fight of going to bed. I think this tactic can work extremely well depending on the age/temperament of your child. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Give them some control. Which pair of pajamas? Head at the top of the bed or head at the bottom of the bed? ReadThis works well for children who need a sense of control. I think this tactic is especially helpful for 2-4 year olds. Typically you want to let your child choose between two items/options and let them decide which they like best. Make sure they are two options you are comfortable with and everyone sleeps happy.
These tactics are right in line with “Love and Logic” approach to parenting which I try to follow and it works well.
Wrapping it up. Teeth, water, snuggles & prayers. These are things that the kids always want to come into my room after I put them to bed and tell me they need. It seems like if my kids feel like they didn’t get enough special alone time they will come back for more. I try my best to remember to get these things done before so that they have no reason to keep coming in our room.
Here are some tactics that can help: “I will come check on you in 10 minutes.” (The hope is that they fall asleep in the meantime and they feel comforted.)
I have another friend who actually owns a “scary mask” that they put on if the kids get out of bed. This isn’t the right mix for me personally, but it works for them and their kids.
Alone time: Refer to above.
Make a promise rather than a threat. “I snuggle with kids who are waiting for me in their beds” or “If you come in my room again it will take away from our snuggle time tomorrow. This is Mommy and Daddy time now.” You know what works/motivates your child so these can vary in their effectiveness. Good luck! 🙂
Night light. All of my children have gone through phases of needing night left on at night. My favorite solution so far is this night light/alarm clock that projects an image on the ceiling. I also buy night lights from the dollar store and always have extras on hand as back up or for something to add to a birthday gift for a friend.
I hope you have found these tips helpful! I would love to hear what ideas you have!
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