14 answers

Seeking Ideas for Bedtime Routine ~ Three Kids

I have three kids:
daughter (just turned) 5
son 3-1/2
daughter almost 2
Our routine at bedtime is that I put the baby (she's not really a baby anymore :( ) to bed first at 7pm. Then around 7:15-7:30 my husband puts our son down while I put our older daughter down. The routine for the two older kids is bathroom, teeth, responsibility chart, pj's, 2 books, song, lights out. (Each child takes about 20 minutes depending on their cooperation) The problem is that the youngest is quickly coming up to speed and fighting going to sleep before her siblings. I know soon we will have to do the same routine for her. *My question is* how do you other moms with multiple little kids handle bedtime? I don't want the whole process to take an hour each night! Do you put them all down together (for the past three nights we've tried doing them all together ~ brushing all their teeth, letting each pick one book and reading to all three in one bed, etc) it's just a little chaotic and not as calming? but maybe we need to give it time? Any help or suggestions of what works for your family greatly appreciated!

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We only have two, but we do the whole bedtime routine together. We read books on my son's bed since he has a full size bed, they each brush their teeth and then we brush each of their teeth, then we read another story then hugs and kisses all around then bed. My daughter is 27 months and we have been doing a combined bedtime routine since she stopped nursing before bed at about 15 months. They take turns sitting in our laps for their stories, so whoever picked out the story gets to sit in your lap, the other one sits on the side and listens. I am not going to say it goes smoothly 100% of the time, but it usually works. Having one sitting in our lap helps eliminate them messing around and playing during storytime. The younger one sometimes will play quietly on the floor during my son's story if she isn't interested in his book, but it is usually not a problem. We did cut down on the number of books for each of them when we started combining, so before, we would read 5-6 books to each individually, now they each get one before and one after brushing teeth. On nights when I am on my own, the little one will turn off her brother's light then I will go tuck her in and then return to tuck my son in. If my husband is home we divide and conquer, then switch so that we each tuck both children in. I do think any change takes time for your kids to get used to, so if you just started doing it all together, give it a couple of weeks before you decide it isn't working. Remember to them it is new and exciting to do this together, so they are going to be extra playful at first. My kids enjoy sharing their bedtime routine and get very upset if one goes to sleep before the other and they don't get a chance for hugs and kisses etc. If we are pressed for time my husband and I will sometimes read the books at the same time to speed through things, but we try not to do that unless they are really late getting to bed.

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Our bedtime routine was all inclusive, meaning all brushed their tteeth, ect and all read the same book together, then went to their beds. It worked! no one felt left out and my husband and I took turns who was reading each night. One parent got a little quiet time while the other was reading.
A. A

Your kids are close enough in age that I think I would start the bedtime routine for all at the same time. While one child is using the bathroom and brushing teeth, the other two can be doing responsibility chart and/or picking out their book. they all make their rounds doing what needs to be done and then all meet together in one room for the book. The rule must be that everyone lay down and there is no talking, just listening. Any child that doesn't lay still or keeps talking, has to leave the room and go to bed before the story is over. They will eventually learn to be quiet and listen to the story without chaos because you will simply not allow the chaos! I would also limit the books to one each night and have them rotate who picks the book. Three books and one song is a bit much. One story, one song, everyone to their own beds and lights out. You should be able to accomplish this whole thing in about 30 minutes IF YOU don't ALLOW any chaos!

We don't read every night. If the children end up watching a tv program (they usually don't get tv)then it takes the place of a book for that night. Sometimes Bible is the book for the night. But all my kids usually get read the same book.
Chapter books like Winnie the Pooh or James and the Giant Peach, easily span across the interests of all my kids, ages 6,8 and 11 yr old. It's exciting for the kids to see the story unfold as the weeks go by. I go to each child at the end of the night and do a personal prayer with them and kiss them goodnight.

Hi E. S,

I am the single parent of my niece (6yrs) and nephew (4 1/2 yrs). Finding a routine that worked for these two was not easy, and I feel like it still takes flexibility on my part. We read books, brush teeth, use restroom. Once in bed I use relaxation scripts, candles or night lights, and "monster spray" (smells like lavender) to keep the monsters away because they (monsters) don't like the smell. I always do the routine with both kids together and it takes 20-30 minutes. The things I am flexible with are: candle or night light, choice of relaxation script etc. If we are short on time the kids have to agree on 1 book or I pick one out and let them know they can "each pick one tomorrow". Both kids are still young enough that having a bedtime routine together works. I couldn't imagine having to spend much more time than this as it seems there already aren't enough hours in the day... I sympathize with you and hope you receive lots of good advice.


I have 4 kids, and have never done separate routines. It would definitely take a lot of time. My 2 older kids are 12 and 9 and old enough to do things on their own. They brush teeth, then read for 30 minutes a piece, and then go to bed. They do this all on their own, so it doesn't take much effort from me. The two younger ones we do at the same time. (but I have done 3 of them at the same time before they were old enough) At 7:00, they get on their pajamas, brush their teeth (I still help my 3 yr old), and then they each pick 2 stories. We sit and read them together, then they go to bed. (usually by 7:30) They share a room and sometimes they stay up a little and talk, or whatever, but generally it works pretty well. Of course, there are nights of craziness, but that is to be expected. It generally works really well. Hope that helps.

Hi E.,

We have three kids as well - 8, 6, 4. How we handle cutting down the bedtime routine is everyone goes up to brush their teeth and take their showers/baths. And we can then when everyone is done, we rotate the stories and song. Each day one kid gets to pick the stories and the song and the next day is another child, etc. Then, my dh and I switch off who does the showers/baths that way we each get a turn to read and we each take a turn doing the bathing. Our whole routine with stories, songs and all takes about 45 minutes and then they all go to bed at the same time.


Hi E.,

First of all, you shouldn't have to brush all three of your kids' teeth. Your oldest one can brush her teeth and the 3 1/2 yr old can start brushing his teeth and when he is done brushing his teeth, then thoroughly brush his teeth. While the older kids are brushing their teeth, you can brush the youngest one. After they are all done, then one person get to choose a book for the night and then the next night would be other person's turn to pick out a book. Just keep doing that or you can do it for one week for one person to choose a book for the week. It is ridiculous to put the three to bed at different times. I have 4 kids and the ages are 1, 6, 8, 13. The baby goes to bed at 10pm and the other 3 goes to bed at 9pm on weeknights and on weekends at 10pm. I think putting the kids to bed is way too early. Give it try at either 8 or 8:30pm. I hope the bedtime routine is easier for you and your husband. Each of my kids take about 10-20 minutes to bed (shower, brush teeth then to bed). I hope this helps.

1st your nightly routine sounds very nice. We have four kids and about the time #3 and then #4 became two, we had 'family bed' time for all of the 'communal' activities. So, at 7:30 we would all go upstairs for pj's and teeth. The kids would race to see who could get to the family bed first! We did the stories and songs and prayers together on the family bed. Then we said our goodnights and the kids peeled off to their own beds (many times choosing to 'sleep over' with each other - for many years all four of ours slept together in their brothers room, even though the girls had a room of their own). My husband and I would sit in the hallway. They knew we wouldn't come in to 'tuck in' and say one final goodnight until they were settled and quiet. We would then do our 'rounds' and sing one last song from the hallway before we headed downstairs for 'our time'. It is important you let the kids know that once you do the final tuck, the rest of the night is your time. Make the older one responsible for helping the younger ones 'get' it. Our kids are older now (12-14-16-18) and still talk about this routine fondly (it ended about the time the older two hit Middle School - though we did modify it for the younger two for as long as they still appeared to want it...which wasn't much longer - they so wanted to be 'big' kids like their older brother and sister).

well i have 2 boys ages 10 and 7 they both still like me to read to them. instead of reading a book per kid, i let them take turns. 1 night its the older one's choice the next night the younger one's choice and sometimes on the 3rd night i'll jump in with a choice of my own. some of my choices tho take a few nights to read as i'll only read 1-2 chapters at a time ( not more than 30 min at a time)
seems to work for us.

Maybe one parent does the teeth and pj's with the youngest and the other parent does it with the older two. Rotate which child chooses the book (or two) and read to all of them at once!

On night's with little time, I read to them together.

As they get older, have the eldest child read to the youngest (it's AWESOME)! And you can read to the other one. You can rotate this schedule as well (and maybe mom and dad take turns having a quiet moment in the living room).

Mom of 4: girl, boy, boy, baby due in 5 weeks!!!

Hi E., I have three children, two girls 8 and 7, and a boy who is 5. The kids brush their teeth together and get dressed for bed. They all have separate bedrooms. I usually read to my son and the girls wait for me. Then I go to my 7 yr. old's room and she reads to me, then I go to my 8 yr old's room and I read to her. It does take about 45 minutes for the whole process but this gives each child alone time with me and they really love it. We talk about our day and if there was something special they did or treated each other with kindness I point it out and they get high fives and a huge hug. We enjoy our alone time even though I am exhausted while doing it and yawning through most of it.
I hope a little of what I say helps.

Hi E.,

I suggest reading books all together, bath, brush teeth and then tag team with your husband if you can. If you can't then put each child down at the same time and spend a few minutes with each of them.

Hope this helps :)


It sounds like a lot of work for you. The five year old can get ready on her own and wait in bed for you. The three year old can do most of it by himself with supervision of course.

Maybe your bedtime routine is a little bit too much activity. In my house the kids get ready and then wait in bed for me. I come in, pull on their blankies, give them a hug and kiss, pray for them, and leave. It takes about 5 minutes at most. It doesn't matter who gets tucked in first. Kids prolong going to bed enough on their own. We don't need to give them long bedtime routines to help them.

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