Wish your evenings could be stress-free? Don’t miss these tips that will make bedtime easy so you can get the kids to bed without the drama!
If you have kids, then you know how stressful evenings can get.
It’s the end of the day, everyone’s tired, and the thought of getting everyone off to bed peacefully can feel like an unattainable dream – especially if you have multiple kids.
Yet it’s the one thing standing between you and your couch – which, after a long day of adulting, is calling your name.
So why do we dread the bedtime routine?
Because for many families, it is often filled with stress, chaos, and power struggles.
I don’t know about you, but I love the thought of going to bed at night.
My kids on the other hand? That’s when their energy seems to be the highest. Over the years, I’ve seen it all: resistance, silly dance moves, epic meltdowns, frantic rushes to finish playing, sudden sensitivity, desperate attempts to get my attention…and sometimes, all of the above at the SAME time.
It’s no wonder evenings can be the most stressful time of day for parents!
But luckily, there are a few tricks that will make it easier to get multiple kids to bed so you can hang up your “parent” hat for the evening and enjoy some quiet time.
Be sure to scroll to the end to see our family’s exact evening routine.
HOW TO MANAGE THE BEDTIME ROUTINE WITH MULTIPLE KIDS
Kids need sleep. There’s no doubt about it.
Without it, they’re more irritable, have a harder time concentrating, and start to have other behavioral problems. And besides, their brains are still developing and need adequate time to rest.
Of course as parents, we know our kids need sleep. We also know they’re exhausted after a long, fun day. Yet, when we mention it’s time for bed, they resist and procrastinate like their little lives depend on it!
But because you need a break at the end of the day too, here are 10 tips to make it easier to manage bedtime and get them in bed without the drama.
1. FIND THE RIGHT BEDTIME
What time should our kids get to bed anyway?
Well, that depends on your family’s needs. Some families keep their kids up a little later because that’s the only time they can see a parent after work, while other families stick to early bedtimes.
Do what works for your family. But if there isn’t a specific reason to keep kids up late, earlier bedtimes are best. Kids will sleep longer and better, and it’s easier to get them in the habit than you might think.
When deciding on the perfect bedtime, it helps to know how much sleep our kids actually need each day (including naps). Here are some guidelines from The National Sleep Foundation:
- Newborn (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
- Infant (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
- Toddler (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschool (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
- School-age (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
Establishing the best time for bed will take some experimenting, but don’t be afraid to shy on the early side.
2. STAGGER BEDTIMES
Managing multiple bedtimes might seem more chaotic, but it just might be the thing that eliminates the chaos.
I love early bedtimes and put my younger two (2 and 4) to bed at 7:00 during the school year. My older two (8 and 11) go to bed between 8:00-8:30. We occasionally have activities that keep my older two up a little later, but this is what we usually aim for.
One thing that will make staggered bedtimes easier is to give older kids something to do while you focus on their younger siblings.
For example, my older two (8 & 11) have free time in the evenings while I get my younger two ready for bed. Once my younger two are ready, I have my 4-year-old sit on the potty while I put my 2-year-old to bed.
This allows me to focus on one child at a time for tuck-ins and makes the whole process more manageable.
3. GET KIDS TO BED AT THE SAME TIME EVERY NIGHT
Consistency is one of the biggest secrets to eliminating bedtime battles. But it isn’t always the easiest to implement.
When parents are tired and kids are rowdy, it’s easy to procrastinate the start of bedtime. It’s also hard to call it quits when families want to spend time together in the evenings.
But keeping bedtime at the same time every night will do wonders for establishing good night routines and sleep habits. Of course, there will be exceptions – concerts, sporting events, social gatherings, etc. – and that’s ok.
Just try to aim for more “on-time” nights than “late” nights. (4-5 nights per week is a good starting point.)
- Establish a good sleep rhythm by having kids wake up at the same time every day as well.
- Keep dinner times consistent to help with the evening routine.
- Decide what time your family will start the bedtime routine. Keeping this time consistent will help “lights out” happen on time.
4. ESTABLISH A SIMPLE BEDTIME ROUTINE
With multiple kids, it’s best to keep bedtime routines short and simple – for your sanity and theirs.
Decide what you want to include and try to keep it to as few steps as possible. It’s much easier to stick with routines that are simple and straightforward.
A simple bedtime routine might look like this:
- Jammies on
- Brush teeth
- Brush hair
Once you’ve decided on a routine, write it down and post it for your kids to see. Take time to go over the routine and allow several nights for it to sink in.
And remember: routines always take longer at first. But don’t worry. With consistent practice, this new routine will get faster and more efficient. Your children will also start being able to do parts of it on their own.
5. USE “LIGHTS OUT” TO TEACH TIME MANAGEMENT
One of the benefits of keeping “lights out” at the same time every night, is that it teaches kids time management – especially if the night ends with something they enjoy.
For example, if your kids want a story before bed, they have to quickly get their jammies on and brush their teeth (or whatever their routine calls for). If they take too long, they miss out because lights out stays the same no matter what.
During the school year, my kids take showers at night. It’s not a problem with my younger two, but my older two take forever (and my daughter tries to sneak out of brushing her hair all the time). Luckily, they also love their evening free time which includes a little screen time followed by coloring, reading or quiet play.
They can’t start their free time until they’re done with their entire bedtime routine, which has been a great motivator. And because lights out happens at the same time no matter what, the amount of free time they get depends on how long they take to get ready for bed.
6. LIMIT TECHNOLOGY AT NIGHT
As relaxing as it might be for kids to have screen time before bed, it doesn’t actually help them wind down. In fact, it can be stimulating for the brain, making it harder for them to fall asleep.
This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have screen time at night, just try to have them turn it off at least 30 minutes before lights out.
7. MAKE BEDTIME EASIER BY MULTITASKING
When trying to get multiple kids to bed, multitasking is the way to go.
Make the most of everyone’s time by having one child sit on the potty while another is in the shower. Or by having one child get their jammies on while you help another brush their teeth.
Not only will this make it easier to juggle multiple moving parts, but it will allow you to focus on one child at a time, which is especially important if you have younger children or a child who has more needs.
Want more time to relax after the kids are in bed? Use multitasking to get the kitchen cleaned during the bedtime routine! You can do this two ways:
- Trade kitchen nights with your spouse. One person takes care of the kitchen while the other takes care of the bedtime routine.
- Have older kids help. They clean up after dinner while you get younger kids ready for bed.
8. END BEDTIME BATTLES BY CONNECTING THROUGHOUT THE DAY
When kids act up, it’s often a cry for attention. So to help get them in bed without the bedtime battles, find ways to help them feel noticed and significant. (This is also a great way to improve behavior overall!)
Whenever possible, find little pockets throughout the day to connect and interact meaningfully with each child. And try to give them a good dose of positive attention during the bedtime routine as well through stories, cuddles, individual tuck-ins, etc.
Of course, this can be hard with multiple kids. But using multitasking to distract other kids will allow you to give your full attention to one child at a time.
9. END THE DAY ON A CALM, POSITIVE NOTE
Evenings can get hectic or silly, making it hard for kids to fall asleep and stay asleep. When getting kids ready for bed, try to conclude with a quick calming activity. Here are a few ideas:
- Sing a bedtime song with the lights off.
- Help your child say a nighttime prayer.
- Cuddle with the lights off and have your child tell you something they’re grateful for.
- Let your child tell you about their day.
- Turn the lights off before your final kiss and “goodnight”.
Calming kids down before bed will help them fall asleep faster, which is especially helpful when kids share a bedroom.
10. LET YOUR CHILDREN KNOW YOUR NEEDS
I love my evenings. I love my kids of course, but I need to wind down at the end of the day – without them.
If you can relate, then you know how frustrating it can be when kids keep getting out of bed.
Go ahead and tend to their needs if it’s urgent. But if getting out of bed becomes a habit, let them know where you stand. They need their sleep and you need your evening.
Stay consistent and firm and they’ll learn.
I’ve jokingly told my kids that I’m all done being “mom” for the day. That I love them and am here if they really need me, but now is my time to hang out with their dad, (or just relax if he’s working late).
OUR FAMILY’S CURRENT BEDTIME ROUTINE
I know how helpful routine examples can be, so here is how our family does evenings during the school year (on nights with no extra activities):
- 5:30 – Dinner
- 6:00 – Family time
- 6:30 – Start bedtime routines
- Quick toy clean up
- 7:00 – Potty, song, prayers, kisses, goodnights for younger two children/free time for older two children
- 8:00-8:30 – Prayers, kisses, goodnights for older two children
YOU CAN GET MULTIPLE KIDS TO BED WITHOUT THE HEADACHE
Bedtime is a hard time, especially when you feel utterly exhausted. But by following these tips, it will become much easier to get your kids to bed.
To recap, here are the 10 tips for making multiple bedtimes easier:
- Find the right bedtime.
- Stagger bedtimes
- Get kids to bed at the same time every night.
- Establish a SIMPLE bedtime routine.
- Use “lights out” to teach management.
- Limit technology at night.
- Make bedtime easier by multitasking.
- End bedtime battles by connecting throughout the day.
- End the day on a calm, positive note.
- Let your children know your needs.
Not only these tips make for a smooth evening, but they will also make bedtime become so automated you can easily do it with help or alone. You’ll even find that bedtime stays successful when the kids are home with a babysitter or your family is on a vacation.
So starting tonight, try implementing them and watch the magic as your kids start to learn how to get to bed without the power struggles!
Want even more tips on establishing a more peaceful home? Find out how to get started in 3 easy steps with a free copy of The Peaceful Parent Starter Guide.
What have you found to be the hardest part of getting multiple kids to bed? Let me know in the comments!
OTHER HELPFUL POSTS:
- How To Create The Perfect Daily Routine For Your Kids
- How To Simplify The Before And After School Routines
- How To Keep Your Cool When Kids Won’t Listen
- 5 Secrets Of A Stress-Free Parent: How To Stop Being So Stressed
- 6 Times Your Child Needs You Most: How To Be A More Present Parent
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