bedtime bliss routine
Because bedtime should be blissful, not stressful.
Do you love your kids to the moon and back, but could really use less chaos and more calm? Does an easier evening that’s actually a little more fun sound like a dream? Daily Jungle’s 10-step Bedtime Bliss Routine can turn your dream into reality
Here’s my secret: I don’t do the steps of my kids nightime routine for them. Why? Because when you stop doing things for your child and allow them to succeed on their own, the parent-child dynamic changes. You turn into the inspirational coach and they turn into the player. The battles turn into bonding, and you both will love the wins. (Plus, you now have some extra time to pour yourself a glass of wine.)
Don’t believe it? I did it in my house - and if I can do it, you can do it! When I thought my evenings could not get any more stressful, I created these 10 steps for my boys. A predictable routine is great, but that’s only half the puzzle, everything changes when your kids are motivated to complete these steps.
10 steps to bedtime bliss
I like to call these my 10 “I’m the master of my routine” steps. Even kids as young as age 2 can start learning how to master the steps in this nighttime routine. As your kids get older, they’ll be able to do more and more of it on their own.
Every child is different, so it’s important to follow their lead, but this is a truly great — not to mention easy to implement — starting point for parents who need a routine reset.
Hang nighttime pajamas (and ideally all of their other clothes, too) on kids’ non-slip hangers on a clothing rod that’s at a reachable level in their room. For younger children, you can also use a rubber band to tie two hangers together at the top, so your child knows to grab the whole unit — top and bottom included.
Next, move into the bathroom, put pajamas on the floor by the door or on the counter, undress and hop into the shower. Quick tip: You can choose a bath instead, but it takes time to fill the tub. Instead, just teach your child how to turn on the shower. If your kid prefers to skip this cleansing step, ask your kids to just shower 3 body parts. If your kid likes to linger in the shower, set a timer for an amount of time you agree on together!
Drying off can be tricky for kids. Make it easier by hanging a kids towel on a hook or towel rack at their level right next to the shower so that they can reach it independently once they’re finished in the shower. You can start with a tape-on hook that’s easy to move as your child grows and then eventually move to the proper towel rack.
Use a hooded towel or a kids’ surf towel that’s more like a poncho made out of terrycloth to help them get dry more easily without help. Hooded towels and kids’ hooded surf towels that are put on like a big sleeveless shirt are often better for kids. Hooded items are also easier for a child to hang — bonus! If your kid prefers to shake the water off their body like a dog, don’t sweat it — it’s not the end of the world. They will eventually dry inside of their pajamas, I promise!
As soon as your child is dry, they should hang their towel up and immediately hop into their pajamas. (They’re nearby, remember?) You don’t want your kid to have to walk into their closet to get pajamas because that’s when the towel will inevitably end up wet on the floor. I’ve picked up my fair share of wet towels, so I get it.
put on pajamas
Here’s a fun fact: Pajama pants and shorts are easier for kids to learn to put on than a pajama top. So, teach your child to learn to put on the pants first and then progress to the top when they’re ready. They’re more likely to be successful this way.
When it comes to picking out pajamas, ask your child how they are the most comfortable. For example, some boys prefer no pajama top at all, while some want to sleep in their undies, others in their favorite daytime t-shirt, and some in their fluffy bathrobe. T hat b eing s aid, s ome girls would rather s leep i n a n ightgown than a t-shirt and pajama bottoms. The goal is not to have the right items on for the night, but for them to independently put on whatever it is that they want to sleep in.
Many dentists recommend brushing your kids’ teeth even until the age of 8, but you can still encourage them to be a part of the process. The most difficult part of the process for kids is usually squeezing the toothpaste out onto the brush since the tubes are actually made for grown-up hands to squeeze, so that’s why some help is still required.
To help your child’s independence, you can actually direct them to own the process. First, instruct them to first brush their own teeth as soon as they can even brush one tooth so that they get the hang of it. I even have my one-year-old baby give it a go first! You can say things like, “just make it extra shiny.” As soon as possible, have your child independently brush their teeth in the mornings, and after they brush their teeth in the evenings, you can “touch it up.”
Here’s a tip I use with my own sons: Be silly. The funnier you can be during the teeth brushing process, the easier and quicker it will be.
The next step is to have your kids wash their face. Now, I know first-hand how difficult that is, but it’s possible to train your kids to wash their face themselves. All you need to do is pick yourself up a Rush Brush. It’s the ONLY solution that has actually made my kids enjoy washing their face, and it is a complete game changer. You can find one in our online store here.
We tend to have our kids wash their hands throughout the day, and bathe or shower at the end of the day, but we tend to forget their face! Did you know that much of what ends in your kids’ hands will also end up on their face? And that bacteria can build up on the skin, from snot, drool, frequent lip licking, and even moisture from breathing inside the mask at school?
I found this out first hand, dealing with everything from toddler skin breakouts to lip smacking dermatitis every winter, and dry skin. After diving into all things kids’ skin, I learned that body washes or soaps are too harsh for the face, and just washing with water will not lift invisible dirt and germs. Instead, it actually changes the pH balance on the skin which can make it extra dry.
I don’t want that for my kids’ skin and I know you don’t either. Rush Brush - the gentle, daily paint-on face cleanser & balm - is fully designed for kids to own their skincare routine — and a nighttime routine should include washing their face. It’s so fun and kids love to do it by themselves.
clothes in laundry basket
Using the Rush Brush is simple: Ask them to paint it on their face and wipe it off with a wet washcloth. That’s it!
For kids with dry skin, irritated skin, or skin that needs soothing, ask them to paint on the Rush Brush again after cleaning and leave it on as a calming balm. Like its name, this routine can absolutely be done “in a rush!” (Just ask my kids — they’re always in a hurry. And let’s be honest, I don’t mind having some extra time to relax and reset for the next day if my kids go to bed a bit quicker, and I bet you feel the same!)
If you’re curious about how the Rush Brush can transform your nightly routine, we’ll send you a free sample! (Just pay for shipping and handling.) Click here to get your FREE sample.
One of the biggest issues with my own children’s nighttime routine was the fact that their clothes always ended up on the floor after they changed into pajamas. How do you teach your kids to put clothes into the laundry basket independently? The same way I did: Turn it into basketball practice.
When you exit the bathroom, teach your child to grab the clothes they left at the bathroom door on their way out and drop them in the laundry basket. Say something like, “Did you just score 5 out of 5?” Then, give them a high five! They’ll love the fun game. You can also film them picking up their clothes and playing this basketball game like it’s their own personal highlight reel.
You can even switch it up with different games like seeing if they can get all of the clothes into the basket within 3 tries. Every night is a new chance to make it fun!
Have a basket or shelf of books by your child’s bed within their reach. Teach them to choose their favorite every night once the rest of their evening routine is finished.
With little kids, it’s all about pictures, but eventually they’ll love the books where cartoons tell the stories. Before you know it, they’ll be picking books they can read on their own!
Reading for your children at bedtime is the ultimate goal, and it’s such a great way to bond. Snuggling up with you to read a good book is the perfect reward for an amazing nighttime routine done independently — even if they needed a bit of help along the way!But, parenting is a wild ride. Things rarely go according to plan — especially if you have multiple children.
As an alternative, you can set your child up with a bedtime story read aloud through a meditation app on an iPad that’s placed well away from reach. (Just don’t forget that anything where your child is watching a bluelight device can mess up their own melatonin production and make it harder for them to fall asleep — I speak from experience!)How much you are able to read - or if you are able to read - might depend on how efficiently (or quickly) the routine was done, but always make some time for snuggle time.
Tips For Successfully Nailing Your
Child’s Nighttime Routine
Now you might be thinking : that it’s easier said than done. That’s what I kept saying in the years of experimenting and working with parenting coaches and reading into philosophies such as Montessori, and looking into parenting secrets from the French to the Scandinavians, all in search of a calmer evening routine, to come up with these real-life, mom to mom tactics. Here’s how to make this also “easily done!”
Introduce the routine to your child by telling them you are doing a new evening routine. Reinforce the idea that they will be the master of this routine and that it will allow you both to maximize time together for the good stuff — more snuggles and reading and sharing about the day!
If it seems like your child needs an extra incentive to get on board with their new, independent evening routine, the rewards below are great to try. I change them with my own kids as soon as they no longer motivate. I also encourage them - not with praise - but with comments that help build their own confidence.
How to set up the routine, so your kids can own it:
- Use a paper print-out of your nighttime routine with each step clearly shown - like the one at the end of this PDF! - and tape it on the wall or on doors in spaces that are part of the routine, or in a space that’s easy for your kid to return back to, to keep viewing the chart after each step.
- Have spaces for each step for each day of the week, where your kid can make their mark after they complete the step.
- Magnet boards are also great, and you can add a magnet (my kids love the star-shaped ones) next to each task after it’s completed.
Rewards For When Kids Do
evening Routine Steps Independently:
Just making a mark for completion can be enough motivation, but not always. Adding a reward for each fully completed routine can really motivate a child who just prefers the steps done for them, or for kids that get easily distracted and end up just rough and tumbling all over the house or doing back flips from the couch to the coffee table - kind of like in my house. :-)
Here’s a few ideas for what you
can do when you hit a snag:
When the routine stops being exciting and your kid just won’t do it.
Remotivate! You can add another reward layer of rewards, such as a trip to the bookstore to get a new book together for a full pompom jar (that could take a month or two to fill up), a certain amount of star stickers, or fully built glow-in-the-dark galaxy on the wall (such as visit to a real observatorium!). Keep testing different things based on what truly motivates your child. I do recommend not having the reward be anything to do with money or food or anything they really need. This is supposed to be just a fun, light, motivational reward. You can also just change the routine up a bit, to create an exciting, fun step.
Get creative, and try to stay positive. If you were a sports coach, and this was your team, heading into the game, what would motivate them to know they CAN do it? Be the all-star level coach who pushes their team to be their personal best.
The interest in doing the routine independently can also fall away. (Because sometimes it feels easier if your parent just does it all for you, right?) This is when you have to really dig deep as a parent and come up with some new incentives. You can say things like, “Your pom pom jar is now full. This month we’ll build a star galaxy on the wall and you get one after each routine is completed.” It can also be a natural opportunity to adjust the order of the nighttime routine steps to better suit your child or for an older child natural consequences. For example, you can point out that you’ll have more time to read books if your child stays focused on their routine.
If your child can’t or does not want to do a step, it’s totally ok to back off for a while and try again in a few weeks. When they feel joy and feel motivated to do a step because they can do it, they will love doing it independently!
For brothers especially — again, speaking from experience here! - you can turn the routine into a race. Boys tend to love being competitive. Say something like, “Yesterday you completed this in 10 minutes, can you beat that time today? Let’s set the timer. 1,2, 3, go!” And track the time on a time sheet they create. Then, do a huge celebration when they beat the time. I’m talking fist bumps with explosions, victory laps and cheers — the works!
Encourage instead of praise
Teach your kids how to be proud of themselves and feel joy because of what they did — not because of your praise. So, instead of something like, “Good job!” you can say “You did it!” or “I’m proud of you!” You can also say things like, “You should be so proud of yourself,” which is more in line with the Montessori way of teaching. These phrases emphasize that they completed their nighttime routine themselves — independently.
Encouragement phrases I use a lot with my boys :
Does it ever just happen automatically?
Some good news: Once your child’s nighttime routine is well-established, these rewards usually naturally fall away. Eventually, they’ll lose interest in filling the pom pom jar or getting “galaxy” stars, or even the secondary rewards, but by that time, their new evening routine will be a habit. At that point, they know the next step by heart, and you might only guide them by a skin “what’s the next step.” When I do the evening routine with all my 3 kids, the “big” boys do these steps independently, while I put the baby to bed. Then I come back to them in PJs, help brush their teeth, and snuggle. It’s not necessarily always smooth, but it’s a huge win from supervising and doing every step for them.