8 Nightly Routines That Will End Bedtime Battles TONIGHT!

We have been compensated by Johnson’s® Baby for this post; however, we are sharing our own thoughts and original photography. All opinions are ours alone. #MommyMustHaves

With the kids finally in bed, my husband and I had just sat down on the couch, poured ourselves a well-deserved glass of wine to connect and start talking about our hectic day. Then all of the sudden we heard the pitter patter of little feet running down the hall.

The lights switched on, then off again quickly.

Pitter patter again. Then silence.

I checked the monitor and the boys were gone, another episode of the Great Bedtime Escapees. We found them playing with their trucks in the dark playroom.

AHHHH! Back to square one….another night of bedtime battles.

Raise your hand if you have a love/hate relationship with bedtime like we do!

We love our kids, but we also love a few hours of peace and quiet after they are tucked in their beds.

As with most things in motherhood, we have learned the hard way. Trial and error helped us nail down a few routines that would not only keep our kiddos in bed but help them quickly fall asleep as well.

It took us a long time to figure out each of our kids’ individual sleep habits. We figured out different ways to get our kids to sleep through the night and were able to deal with the crazy sleep regressions as well. However, one of the trickiest things to master was to helping our kids actually go to sleep!

Truly, if you think about it, can anyone or anything for that matter, make YOU go to sleep? Probably not!

So, you can stand on your head for an hour, sing twinkle twinkle, and give your kids a million goodnight kisses, but it is up to your kiddos to actually close their eyes and fall asleep.

One night, after one too many bedroom escapes, we lamented on the phone to one another wondering what in the heck was happening to our little guys? Was this another sleep regression, were they going through another growth spurt?  Nope, they were JUST KIDS BEING KIDS…who never want to go to sleep in fear of missing out on something!


We looked back at all of our bedtime wins and fails. Here are the legit wins we have found that helped put an end to our bedtime battles:

Start early:

This is key! Kids thrive on structure and love a routine. When we pushed bedtime too late, we noticed that we were rushing, unable to fit each step into our routine, which was stressful.

Now, we make time for a bath, a calming massage and PJ’s right after we finish up with dinner. This gives everyone plenty of time to begin winding down and allows the kids to know that they still have some playtime before bed.

Once we get those tasks out of the way, we let everyone have quiet playtime in their room so they don’t get all riled up again! Puzzles, books, and coloring are some great options for pre-bedtime play.

Lavender, rinse, and repeat:

Our pre-kid selves knew that lavender was calming and helped to promote sleep….everyone knows that, right?

But what is funny is that we never transferred the idea of using lavender with our kids until one of our neighbors gifted us the Johnson and Johnson Sleepy Time Gift Set, which became a pre-bed bath time game changer. Not only do we love the Johnson Sleepy Time products because they smell wonderful and are phthalate and paraben free, but they are calming and help kick bedtime into high gear. JOHNSON’S® BEDTIME® routine has the added bonus of being part of a clinically proven routine to help baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. These products help babies fall asleep up to 30% faster and be 58% less likely to wake during the night. 

You can conveniently pick these up at your local Walmart, in the baby aisle near the diapers. Or…like most busy moms, take advantage of Walmart’s online services which allow you to order online to pick-up in store or have your purchases shipped directly to your house.

Diffuse Essential Oils:

Our boys like to have some time after bath time to play, but we require that they are playing calmly and quietly in their room. While they play we diffuse lavender and frankincense to create a calm and relaxing environment.

Have a set bedtime:

Now we all know that life happens and it’s impossible to get our kids to bed the exact same time each and every night because, well, life happens! However, trying to be as consistent as possible with a set bedtime will help your kiddos prepare for bedtime, fall asleep easier and stop the nightly bedtime battles.

Determining an appropriate bedtime for your kids depends on a few factors:

  • What time works for your family? Not everyone can get home and dinner made by 6 p.m. Bedtime can depend on your family’s schedule.
  • What time do your kids wake up in the morning? Or what time do they need to be up to get out of the house on time?
  • How many hours of sleep is age appropriate for your child? You can get more information about that with these handy charts from our free resource library.

Night Time Namaste:

Now, this may come as a surprise, but kids love to mimic the adults in their life! Try modeling a few basic yoga poses like downward dog, child’s pose, the upward dog, and a butterfly fold. You will be surprised how much this helps their little bodies and minds calm down right before bedtime.

Set the stage:

In order to really prepare for bedtime, we need to alert our bodies that sleep is coming. By turning off electronics and dimming the lights, we are signaling to our brains to calm down. Reading stories and turning on white noise are also nice ways to unwind.

Consistent routine:

The more consistent you are by following the same steps in your nightly bedtime routine, the more your kids will be able to predict what is coming…SLEEP! If you follow similar steps before bedtime each night (bath, brush teeth, read a book, etc) it will signal to your kids that sleep is imminent and reduce the likelihood of bedtime battles. Our kiddos know that after bath time, life starts to slow down, and eventually they are expected to rest their bodies and fall asleep.

Set Clear Bedtime Expectations:

Having your kids become the masters of their own sleep habits are really empowering to them! Have your children help you determine the steps in your bedtime routine and then set limitations within the choices they make so they know at some point the routine comes to an end and it’s time to close their eyes.

If it were up to them, our kids would try to wiggle a few extra stories and goodnight kisses out of us each night. For example, our bedtime routine includes bath, massage, pajamas, 2 books, 1 drink, 1 song, 1 kiss and 1 hug, and then we leave the room.

When they protest, we say: “It’s bedtime, you can choose to have a book in your bed and the lights on or off, but it is time for you to go to sleep.” This gives them some sense of control in the matter but also tells them that the conversation is over and bedtime is happening.

Get out of bed RULE:

Parenting with Love & Logic teaches parents to set a “get out of bed one-time” rule, which has been a huge game changer in our homes. Our kiddos go to their rooms and must stay in their beds until they are ready to fall asleep. We keep a dim light on in the bathroom and allow them to quietly read books until they fall asleep. The expectation has been set that allows our kids the opportunity to get out of bed one time. They can choose to use their one opportunity to get a new book, go to bathroom or grab one last drink of water. However, iff they get out of bed again, then they have signaled to mom and dad that that they have made the choice to have the lights turned off.

With parenting, we’ll have wins AND we’ll have major fails. It’s all part of the gig. Learning about what works for each of your kiddos is key because every kid is different. So instead of pulling your hair out with constant bedtime battles, make a few simple changes to your approach and you will start to see the results. Your lives will be bedtime battle free in no time!

What changes have you made to your bedtime routine?  What has worked and what hasn’t?  Share your ideas in the comments below so we can all learn from each other!

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