What Does Your Bedtime Routine Look Like?

balloons in the sky

Balloons are a great image for relaxation-- part of our bedtime routine.

Every night since Shnook was a baby, we’ve done a bedtime routine. The routine has evolved numerous times as he’s grown from newborn to infant to toddler to preschooler. Now we have stream-lined our bedtime so it’s actually become a lot of fun. Here’s what happens on an ideal night:

At about 6:45 pm I put on some music and Shnook and I clean up the toys. We try to clean them up faster than Fuzz can “unclean them up.” Sometimes he does help, or at least he does his darndest to try. Our babysitter W also introduced us to the “I Spy” game which is GREAT for cleaning up.

Whenever we finish the clean-up, I run the bath for both of them. This is a relatively new phenomenon. I used to bathe them both separately because Shnook went to bed a lot later and also it was really challenging when Fuzz was a baby. Now I can get them both going with relative ease, even if it can be slightly more messy.

After the bath, both boys put on jammies and we sometimes do a Ukelele dance-a-thon in Shnook’s room. I recently picked up the uke and the boys LOVE it.

Hopefully by this point, my husband gets home and after a brief bedtime nursing, he puts Fuzz to bed. Shnook and I brush his teeth, have a final pre-bedtime pee, and collect his stuffed animals and a sippy cup.

He turns out the big light and turns on the reading light. Then he selects his stories. Right now he’s totally obsessed with Curious George.

We read a couple of Curious George books and then we turn out the light and do a special relaxation visualization that I started using to calm him down and get his mind ready for sleep. This started as my own practice, but then I tried it with him and he loved it.

I used to do the same one every night. I’d ask him to imagine balloons filling up with his deep breaths, the balloons also filled up with all the loud thoughts in his head. Then we’d visualize cutting the strings of the balloons to let them go, and thus letting go of all the thoughts so he could sleep. That worked for a long time. Then one day he asked me to do another one, and since then he wants a whole NEW one every night. Needless to say it’s been challenging to come up with something each time, but it’s also been a lot of fun. These aren’t necessarily stories so I don’t have to work so hard on a plot.

So that’s it. After that it’s hugs and kisses. Sometimes I stay with him until he falls asleep, sometimes I have to go out and work right away.

Of course, there are a thousand permutations of bedtime that don’t look like this. I often have to put the boys to bed together, which is a whole other animal. I’ll post on that sometime.

What does your bedtime routine look like?

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More by Naomi:
Is A Well-Behaved Toddler A Better Toddler?
The Mom Club:We’re All Members
My 3-Year-Old Doesn’t Play With Pretend Guns

Photo via Flickr

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