Bedtime with one child, of any age, can be tricky enough. Throw another one (or two! or three!) into the mix and it can get downright chaotic and stretch on for far too long. Bedtime with multiple children is tough, in particular because the kids are tired but often also wound up at bedtime. Whether you work all day and come home to do bedtime or are home all day and have to power up to get through it, here are some helpful bedtime tips to make it less stressful when you’re putting more than one child to bed.
5 Tips for Managing Bedtime with Your Kids
The one thing we know as parents, is that things change. Constantly. That means that even once you find a bedtime routine that works for your family and gets all your children into bed at an appropriate time, you’ll need to keep revamping what works. The good news though, is that once your kids see that bedtime is a priority and that there is a routine to follow, they should be able to roll with the adjustments that need to be made as they get older.
Let’s look at what can help make bedtime a bit smoother when you have multiple kids to get to sleep.
- Do Bedtime Stories Together
Depending on the age of your children, their taste in books may not exactly match up. But the great news is that as older children learn to read, they usually enjoy revisiting some of their older “baby” books. Older children get to practice reading and the younger ones revel in the undivided attention of older siblings. Then, parents can read a book to all children together, as opposed to reading to each child individually, which will help keep bedtime on track.
Another option is to read together a little earlier in the night. Spending time reading after dinner, but before bath time, can help keep parental fatigue at bay and will give you more flexibility with the rest of the night, while not foregoing that important wind-down time.
- Bathe Them Together or At The Same Time
Bathing siblings together can certainly move things along. However, if you find that your children get riled up after bathing together, try getting one child in the bath and the other in a shower at the same time (if you have more than one bathroom available). Another option is to convert everyone to showers, as it will not only save time but it’s also physically a lot easier for parents. Look into a shower head that attaches to your main one so that you’ll have a gentle stream and a hose that’s easy to maneuver around little bodies. You can still do showers together even though older children may go to bed later, but this way, everyone will be clean and in pajamas and ready to move to the next step of bedtime.
- Have Older Children Help Put the Younger Ones To Bed
Involving your older child with some of the bedtime tasks for the younger one (rocking together, helping put pajamas or sleepsack on, or even being the one to hand over the prized lovey once the little one is ready for bed) is a great way to keep bedtime sweet and calm.
- Foster Independence
Bedtime can also be a great time to get your older children to practice their independence. Once you’ve read stories together, and everyone is clean and dressed for bed, ask your older child to go and play quietly in their room while you put younger siblings down. Similar to afternoon quiet time once a child has stopped napping, you can use a quiet box for this time of night so that your child has some activities to keep them occupied, but to also help them calm down before bed.
- Take Bedtime Outdoors
While the weather is still nice, it can be very effective to get kids out for some fresh evening air before bedtime. A way to make it extra special? Let them wear their pajamas. If you have a double stroller, give them a quick walk around the block, playing a sight game or singing a song as you go. Let that fresh air seep in and help them settle down for the night.
Stick To Your Bedtime Routines
We know that bedtime can be tough. It can often feel like the most labour-intensive part of the day and since it also comes at the end of it, it’s challenging to remain relaxed and present. Try and stick to your bedtime routine each night so that everyone knows what to expect and how the night should go. Some nights will be better than others, but just do the best you can. And if you have a not-so-great night, don’t beat yourself up. There’s always another bedtime right around the corner.