The importance of a good bedtime routine

With two boys aged 9 and 14 I've had a few years experience at getting my kids to go to bed, and most importantly, staying in bed. Now I'm not saying I'm an expert at this, I've had my fair share of going up and downstairs trying to get them to go to sleep, but for the most part they've been good sleepers - and I put that down to having a good bedtime routine.


The amount of sleep kids get can impact their behaviour, if they're tired they're more likely to misbehave. Having a bedtime routine helps but making sure they get enough sleep is where to start. Setting the time they go to bed, and sticking to it, gives your kids a routine. They know that at 7pm it's bedtime and so they have to be ready for bed. 

The Importance Of A Good Bedtime Routine | Sticking to the same bedtime every day allows children to get used to a bedtime.

The time they go to bed usually depends on their age, so be adaptable as they grow. I can't imagine BP being particularly happy if I told him he had to go to bed at 7pm. LP's current bedtime is 8pm, but he can read as much as he likes when he's in bed. BP's current bedtime is 9pm, and the same reading rule applies - but he doesn't usually use it!

Weekends are different, or at least non-school nights are different. On a Friday and Saturday we give them an extra hour. This is a recent development and we're giving it a go, so far they're both doing well with it. 

Any kid will run any errand for you, if you ask them at bedtime.

Red Skelton

Start early

Don't ever spring bedtime on kids - the only thing you'll do is make them want to stay up. Kids, younger kids particularly, need time to settle down, time to get used to the fact they'll be going to bed soon. Establishing a 'get ready for bed' routine is a good way to get them settled and ready to go to bed.

When my boys were young reading a bedtime story together was part of our routine and they both looked forward to it. LP loved bedtime stories, he would spend ages before bed choosing his story and he had his favourites, Dr Seuss featured a lot. In the winter we would grab a blanket, one we could snuggle under, like our Aqua Blue Herringbone Throw that keeps us warm and makes reading the story extra special. Reading together while snuggling under a blanket creates a bond, and it's something your child will remember. Even now LP talks about how we used to read stories together. Dr Seuss Sleep Book was a great read, and often put BP to sleep - it's a genius story - but LP never slept, he had to hear the end of the story and then he would go to sleep.

The Importance Of A Good Bedtime Routine | Grab a blanket, their favourite teddy bear, and a bedtime story, and settle down.

Whether it's bedtime stories, a night time bath, or just having 20 minutes to settle down, giving your kids something they can mark bedtime with makes it easier for them to understand bedtime is coming.

Security blankets and teddy bears

Security blankets, or favourite teddy bears, can really help with the night time settling. A blanket that they absolutely have to sleep with (don't forget to have more than one!) or a teddy bear who keeps them company, is another way to help them settle. 

The Importance Of A Good Bedtime Routine | Security blankets and teddy bears can help your child settle.

Both my boys had security blankets. When BP was a baby - up to about 2 years old - he would cling to his blanket, put it next to his face, and suck his thumb. He would fall asleep this way every time. As he grew older, and because we had many of the same blanket, I started to cut it up to make it smaller as a way of weaning him off needing the blanket. LP ended up more bonded with his blanket than I expected. His blanket was an embroidered thing that came with a Buzz Lightyear teddy, and we only had one - probably the biggest parenting fail I have ever made and it still haunts me to this day. He would do the same as BP, holding it next to his face while sucking his thumb, only he would go further and make it touch his eye! We would freak out every time we saw it but it's how he could fall asleep. Unfortunately for LP we lost his blanket when on holiday one year, he was just over a year old, and I felt awful. We tried getting him a replacement but he never really took to the replacement like he had the original blanket. 

As for teddy bears, again they both had them. BP didn't really need his much, the bedtime stories would put him to sleep and he was always a heavy sleeper. LP was different again, he was a light sleeper and the teddy bear helped him. LP's teddy was a Build-a-Bear teddy that he made himself and gave the teddy a roar. He decided that if the teddy - a leopard by the way - could roar then he could scare away the monsters and nightmares. As he got too old for the security blanket he switched to the teddy and used it for years to "protect" him at night. He couldn't sleep without it. 

Security blankets and teddy bears are a great way to settle kids for bed, or give them something to cling to when they're feeling uneasy. 

Be consistent

As much as you can you want to make sure you have the same routine every day. The same bed time, doing the same things when you tell them to get ready for bed. It could be a bath, then bedtime story, then sleep, or it could be other things too. But always do the same things, it establishes a good routine and prepares the kids for going to bed. 

Like I said, we always had a routine when getting ready for bed. Bedtime stories, time to settle down, and then bed and sleep. Every single day.

No tech in bedrooms

For older children it can be more difficult to get them to settle. With the pressures of social media and having phones with them all the time, including in their bedrooms at night, the chances of them missing out on sleep is high.

The Importance Of A Good Bedtime Routine | Don't allow tech in bedrooms - it makes it easier for teens to turn off!

We used to let BP have his phone in his bedroom at night, it's where it would get charged. However, in a morning when I'd try to get him up for school I'd often find that he was very tired and cranky. After research I found out he'd been using his phone until very late at night, sometimes until 4am, and that's when I decided we needed a new rule. No tech in bedrooms at night. Now I know it's not always possible, with consoles and such being kept in bedrooms, but when it comes to mobile phones if they can be charged overnight elsewhere I'd suggest doing so. Remove the temptation to constantly be checking their phones into the night and they will sleep better - they can disconnect from the online world, and it will at least give them some down time. 

Calm down period

Again thinking of older kids security blankets and teddy bears don't work, which means you need to concentrate a little more on how to get them to settle before bed. Having a 'calm down' period before bedtime gives them a chance to let their brain settle before heading to bed. 

Switching off consoles, and no screen time for at least 30 minutes before bed is how we do this. You can't really dictate story time to a 14 year old, but you can stop them from playing their console games or being on their iPads and phones right before bed. Give them a chance to switch off and they're more likely to sleep well during the night. I have found that BP is much more pleasant when he has a good night's sleep. 

My dad did every single accent under the sun, and he would read bedtime stories.

Lily James

Once in bed - STAY IN BED

Ever since the boys could understand, we've had a rule about bedtime. Once they're in bed, they stay in bed. You could help with this one by getting them a bed they like - like these cabin beds for sale from Room to Grow. Once they are in bed they have to either read, or go to sleep. No getting up to have a drink of water, no shouting downstairs to talk about their day at school. I've always been strict with this one because I believe it makes the biggest difference. If you give in and go upstairs numerous times to settle them, that's the routine they get used to. 

Now, I'm not saying these tips will always work. When kids are ill all these rules go out of the window and to be honest they should. But routine is important, and it makes a difference to your child's behaviour. 

Why not start a new routine for the Christmas period by picking up a new blanket for you to snuggle under while you're reading a bedtime story!

What is part of your kids' bedtime routine?

If you enjoyed this post you'll like Teaching your children about social media, or if you're in need of something brighter check out Why it's awesome being a mum to tweens/teens.

Stop by Facebook and let me know which bedtime story you enjoy reading to your kids.

And to help you stay organised so you have more time for the bedtime routine grab this Organised Mama Pack, which includes chore checklists for you and your kids!