Shortening the Bedtime Routine

Updated on January 29, 2013
Y.C. asks from Frederick, MD
17 answers

We have two younger kids, ages 4 and 2, that share a room. Our typical bedtime routine has consisted of changing clothes, brushing teeth, then getting into bed and reading two books (one for the 4 year old, one for the 2), then turning the lights out and singing a few songs, then hugs and kisses, and goodnight. Sometimes that takes 25 minutes, but sometimes with interruptions and all the hemming and hawing they do, it can take over an hour. If you have kids of a similar age, what is your bedtime routine? Do you think what we do is too much?

Thanks for the info.

Reading responses so far - it helps to see that we are pretty much in the majority. My husband and I just need to suck it up, I guess. :)

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answers from Boston on

Y.. this sounds about right with what we do. I start getting my oldest ready at 7:30 and then by 8 he is in bed. Granted there are nights where he gets out of bed with excuses but he is usually asleep by 8:15. Given their age, I think you will find that many will say this is in line with what they do.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I do feel that it is too long. I have read similar posts where the routine is the same, but personally, for me, it's too long.

When mine were that age, it was snack, brush teeth, get in bed, I read ONE story and it's lights out. I don't see the need for multiple stories or singing. It's bedtime.

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answers from Austin on

Sounds right to me..

FYI, one thing I learned from the Oklahoma City bombing.. remember the mom of the 2 little boys (brothers) that died? The mom said her only regret as their mother was that she did not read that "1 more book," each night her boys asked for.

So anytime our daughter asked for "one more book?", "one more chapter/", we read it.. Sometimes we spent 2 hours reading books together in her bed.. But I have not one regret, and there is nothing we would have rather done than spend that time in her bed, the 3 of us, reading and listening to books.

Just keep in mind, I know you have heard it a million times. But now that our daughter is 22, they really do grow up so fast.. The time you spend with them is very precious..

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

25 min to about an hour for 2 kids doesn't sound over long to me at all.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

When/if my kids hem and haw... I tell them that now, the bedtime routine is shorter and we can't do the usual. Because time was wasted.

Then, another way to handle this is:
BEFORE their actual bedtime, and say the whole routine takes 25 minutes to 1/2 hour... just start the bedtime routine EARLIER. So that their actual bedtime, does not turn out to be later and later due to hemming and hawing.
So start the bedtime routine, 25 to 30 minutes, earlier.
And you tell them this. That they get ready for bed earlier, because they hem and haw and it makes things later and later.
So now, you are staring the routine, earlier.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Ours is very similar with a 4 and a 3 year old, and can vary with the night. Last night they were both out before the end of the 2nd story, so it was under 10 minutes, the night before it was over an hour for my daughter who had every excuse in the book.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I don't think 25 minutes is too much.

For the "hemming and hawing," you simply have to be willing to put your foot down and say no. "This is the way we do it. 2 books, 2 songs, hugs and kisses, goodnight. No more."

Kids always try to push to see if they can get more. Be calm and confident, but firm and unrelenting on a consistent basis. "No, kiddo. We'll read that one tomorrow night." or, "We'll sing that one tomorrow night." And then no further argument or negotiations. It's when you start relenting and negotiating that things can get drawn out.

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answers from Grand Forks on

That sounds about right at that age.

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answers from Spokane on

Our routine is very similar.

My 8 y/o showers while I bathe the 4 y/o ~ then it's jammie time and brushing teeth. Then we head upstairs where my 8 y/o goes to his room to read to himself (15-20 daily for his homework) and my husband or I reads to the little one. After reading 1 or 2 books we say prayers, sing 1 song and talk about the day then it's lights out and then over to 8 y/o's room for prayers and 1 on 1 chit-chat for about 5 minutes to talk about the day and any questions/concerns he has or to just talk and lights out.

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answers from Dallas on

My DD is 5 and ours lasts about that long. Bath, jammies, teeth, story, bed.

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answers from San Diego on

Our routine at six years old still takes about an hour. I love that time to really connect. Its gonna fly by, already is and night time snuggling is the best.



answers from Minneapolis on

Just start a bit earlier if you can. I have three kids that are now 7, 6 and 4... bedtime has pretty much always taken about an hour for me, even when my husband is home to help out.




answers from Chicago on

It takes us an hour. I sometimes wish it didn't, but this is just the way it is.



answers from Beaumont on

Seems pretty "normal". Maybe you could change the songs to something you do with them when you wake them up. I sing to my boys in the a.m.-it's silly but they like it...



answers from Portland on

Can you bump up the 'get your pjs on' time? Like, right after dinner, they wash their hands and get pajamas on? That's what we've been doing lately. (My son is five and some days, when he's poking along, I have him put his pajamas on and get his room cleaned before dinnertime. But he's a far tidier eater than a two year old!)

We usually do pjs, (however long that takes, which is why we start early); toothbrushing and stories/songs takes about 30 minutes or so. That's our snuggle time and I wouldn't trade it for anything.


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Y.:
Yes, learn to be patient.
It is your duty to take care of the needs of your children.
Bedtime is a time for patience.
Good luck.



answers from Washington DC on

I think your doing great! I have a 1 year old and a 4 year old. We all go together to start washing up or taking a bath. Then they both get in their PJs. Then my 4 year old gets to watch 1 show for "down time" while I sit with the 1 year old and give him his bottle and put him to bed. This usually takes about the same about of time as the show, so then I take the 4 year old up and read him 2 books and then lay with him a while & scratch his back. By the time I leave his room, I am usually at about 1.5 hours after when we first went to start washing up. I have noticed though that as soon as I alllow a new form of hemming & hawing to occur, my 4 year old will run with it and delay delay delay. So, I try really really hard to stick to no "extras" in our already crazy long routine :)

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