28 answers

Bedtime Routine?

I've let my kids stay up as late as they want because I'd rather have them sleep later in the morning. My oldest will be starting Kindergarten soon, and we will all have to get up at the crack of dawn, so he'll need to go to bed earlier, on his own. (He usually falls asleep on the couch and we carry him to bed.) We've already tried a bedtime routine and tried to get them to go to bed earlier, but they just won't. Any suggestions? Did anything work for someone in a similar situation? Should I start sleep-training them now or just wait until school starts and they'll automatically get tired from having to get up early?
Thanks for your replies!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much everyone! About 2 or 3 weeks before school started, we set up a new bedtime routine: jump/dance, bath (if needed), pajamas, brush teeth, read story, talk about day, and lights out. I lay in bed with my son for just a couple of minutes. I had to start lights out late (10pm) and then move it up 15 min. each night. I am so proud to say that they both are in bed by 8 every night! They don't come out of their rooms and they fall asleep on their own :) I am tired earlier too - and we are all happier in the morning! My son hasn't been late to school at all.

Featured Answers


Starting school will be hard enough without him being so exhausted he can't function too.

Start moving bedtime 15 minutes earlier every couple of days. Pretty soon you've have them going to bed at a reasonable time without a bunch of trauma to go with it. You can also start waking them up early NOW to help with the transition.

I'm all for minimizing the trauma.


START NOW!! It typically takes 2 weeks for kids to get on a new routine. The longer you wait the harder the first few weeks of school will be.

Definitely try to establish a bedtime routine now rather than waiting until school starts. It may take a while to get the routine going. Good luck!

More Answers

Good morning A., A st routine will take practice, letting kids stay up as long as they wanted, was not a good teaching for your kids. But you can change it. One thing i do want to share with you before I share what our routine was with our kids when they were small (now grown) and that is there should never be no such thing as they won't, they are not in charge you are, and if you allow the Won't in your home with your kids, you are giving them power they are not meant to have. We had 3 children 2 boys and our daughter,our bedtime routine was, gathering in one room as a family, a story read, then we prayed with our kids then tucked the boys in, told them good night and that we loved them, turned off their light and turned on their fish aquarium light, then my husband and I together took our daughter to her room, tucked her in told her good night and we love her, turned her light off and her fish aquireium light on.They went to bed happy and knowing they were loved. J. L.

2 moms found this helpful

I wouldn't think it is fair to your son or his future teacher to just "see what happens" if he goes to school tired. He has a job to do there, make friends, follow rules and a schedule, and just figure out this whole school thing - he will be emotionally drained enough doing that, don't let him be physically tired as well. His teacher also has a whole classroom of children to meet, learn their individual temperaments and those of the parents, get them on a routine and start teaching pronto! This is hard enough to do without children who are cranky, uncooperative, or crying. I would just move bedtime earlier gradually - 15 minutes earlier every three or four days. If you try to put them to bed three hours early, of course they won't go to bed, they're not even remotely tired! As others have said, a bedtime bath, jammies, a book with a stick of cheese or banana for snack, brush teeth, and off to bed with hugs and kisses. We start our bedtime routine at 7pm - lights out at 8pm. You might find you really enjoy having a couple of hours to yourself at night... although you won't probably at first. They will probably keep getting out of bed for a while, just stick to it and be loving but consistent - this could take several weeks if you have persistent children! Even though this has been our routine since the beginning my four year old STILL asks for someone to stay with him, scratch his back, one more book, sing to me please.... Even though he knows the end result is "sorry, no, it's bedtime." It's hard to say goodnight when there's a whole exciting world out there to discover :) If you get your two year old on the same schedule you will have much happier mornings if she has to go with you to drop off brother at school - and then you'll have some one on one time with her in the morning while he's gone. Good luck and happy sleeping!

2 moms found this helpful

Please do your son a favor and start training him now on good school sleep habits. As a teacher of 16 years, I can tell you that poor sleep habits lead to more problems in the classroom (both academic and social) than most families and teachers would care to admit.

For my family, bedtime at kindergarten was 7:30pm with a wake up time of 6-6:30am. Yes, young children still need LOTS of sleep to support growing minds and bodies. Our bedtime routine was to bathe, set out clothes for the next day, read, and cuddle until lights out.

In your case, I would recommend starting a bed time routine and start shifting "lights out" back 10-15 minutes every few days. Also, I would really tire your son out during the day with physical and mental activities so going to bed early isn't as awful as it sounds. This will not be easy but if you stick with it, school won't be such a hassle.

Think of it this way. Kindergarten starts at 8 or 9 am and goes to 11:30am-ish. If your son doesn't mentally "wake up" until 10 or 11am, he's missed everything he needs to learn for 1st grade. At that point you face two choices: teach him yourself in the afternoons or evenings or hold him back a year to try again. Kids who get "promoted" to 1st grade without knowing their letters, sounds and numbers are set up to fail when they get to my classes in high school because they don't know how to read or do basic math (I teach history and economics). Is not having a structured bedtime routine worth risking your kid not graduating? I know that sounds extreme, but, yes, I have heard that..."I could never make Johnny go to bed on time" or "Susie, is just strong willed. She'll stay up and play computer games/watch tv/text on her cell phone until 2am. I can't make her stop."

Yes, you can. It starts today with you in charge! You go, girl! You can do this! Follow the Witwicky motto: No sacrifice, no victory! (If you haven't seen Transformers, that won't make sense, but it still applies. <g>)

Lots and lots of good luck to you...

2 moms found this helpful

As someone who also let her daughter be the little nightowl she seems to just naturally be, I'll just toss out that when the time comes that you have to go to bed earlier so that you can get up earlier, you will. It's not worth stressing over.

That said, I don't mean wait until the night before school starts to have your son go to bed 2 hours earlier than his usual conking out on the couch (I love it). We do family bed (I know, I know), so that does allow a bit of control in the when it's time to go to bed department. If you don't want to do the family bed thing, and I can only advocate it for people who truly want it, may I suggest a routine similar to the plan for weaning a child out of it's parents' bed?

You would start by lying down with your child in their bed, moving your bed-time routine, such a bed-time stories, singing songs, telling stories about that day, hopes for dreams, discussing family plans or upcoming events ~ keeping to calm subjects of course. If you don't have a bed-time routine, you might want to create one, especially because you'll need to motivate your son to come off the couch and go into his bed. No judgement - just knowing that incentives help.

OK, I got a bit off-track. So you have the bed-time routine, you're lying down with child. Then you say time for sleep, turn off lights, and stay with them a bit. Maybe, if your child isn't used to going to sleep on their own, you will need to stay until they're actually asleep. This will be quite a huge change for your children, and the less stress the better. Be patient with them (and yourself). The 2 year-old will go along with whatever is going on, allowing for toddler energy and willfulness. But very likely she'll be motivated to do whatever her big brother is doing.

Anyway, you do that for a few days, then sit on the bed rather than lie down, than move to a chair rather than the bed, but close to the bed. Then move the chair further away. As this process goes along, you'll be leaving the room earlier and earlier, so the kids will be going to sleep on their own. I really couldn't say how many days this will take. The idea is to transition them gently so they'll feel safe & not dread bed-time & fight it running away hiding from you. And your night will have some sweetness to it rather than that anxious feeling of OMG my kids HAVE to get to sleep!!! And I do suggest starting the bed-time routine, wherever in the house you choose, a couple weeks before end of summer. You could move to the bed after that, if that feels more natural. The point is to have a routine.

When your kids are little, it's so easy to just float and let life happen. Everyone is happy following their own rhythm in their own time. School changes all that and you will get used to it. I railed against the regimentation, but I got used to it. You have to, or there's all sorts of hassles & stresses that just aren't worth it. Get some stories that you'll enjoy reading (age appropriate), maybe some chapter books that your kids will look forward to hearing the next installment night after night. The ORIGINAL Winnie the Pooh books are terrific, as is the ORIGINAL Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, even Pinnocchio (though there are some pretty tense times in it). They are all excellent books, well-written, funny, sweet.

I wish you all the best with this & I hope you find a way to enjoy the new changes you'll be needing to make. I know it will mean a different night for you the mom, whether you follow my suggestions or whether you go about it another way.

Take care,

1 mom found this helpful

As a school teacher, I can't tell you how often we see children who are sleep deprived. Kids need a lot more sleep than adults do. They do better in school when they have enough sleep. Please try to help your children by allowing them to go to bed earlier. They may not want to, but the extra sleep is needed for their health. As a teacher, I thank you! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Aloha A.,

I think you are just going to have to put your foot down now. Don't wait until school starts. It's important for them to have a routine and good sleeping habits. Bedtime routine could start 30 minutes before bedtime.....with bath/shower, brushing teeth, then laying in bed while mommy/daddy softly reads a bedtime story. When the story is over, if they aren't asleep, let them know it's time to just rest in bed.......hugs and kissess.....and good night sweetheart! With my kids, we always do a "what's your favorite" or "if you could be......." kind of question.


1 mom found this helpful

HI, A.!
Interesting that you would put "routine" in your subject line -- I see no routine! Perhaps you can put them on a "bedtime" schedule, and yourself, as well!
It is my opinion that there is no such thing as a "morning" or a "night" person. That is a figment of our imagination. It is a LABEL that we apply to ourselves to make it "ok" to sleep in, or to stay up late. Try to get up a little earlier each day, before school starts, so that you can actually get your kids up for school, and be awake and present for them before they head out for their day! You can make it fun for them! How much would they love their mommy to be awake and cheerful each day when they rise? How much would you love to be there for them when they need you? I guess, what I am saying is, if you make it ABOUT THEM, then it isn't about YOU, and not being a morning person. Shift the focus onto them, instead of yourself! I believe selfless acts of kindness always pay off!
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,
May I suggest that you work on sleep training both of them now? I was an elementary school teacher for 17 years and school is exhausting for a kindergartener, especially if he's already tired. It will make for a long (and possibly emotional) day for him. Additionally, the ones that don't end up getting enough sleep will fall asleep in class, which causes them to miss out on valuable information and could also cause shock or embarrassment to your child.
My suggestion is to: set your routine, have them go to bed and if they aren't tired, than tell them that they may look at books in bed, but no playing with toys. Also, start to wind them down about an hour before bed. Turn off the TV, feed them a high protein snack such as a glass of milk or some string cheese. Then give them their bath with some relaxing bath wash and have them brush their teeth. Play some soothing quiet music as you read them a bed time story and then send them to bed to either look at books or try to sleep. Their bodies will eventually adjust to the routine, although it may take a week.
Good luck to you!

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