Currently my kids are preschool- and school-aged. Our very strict bedtime pandemonium consists of brushing teeth, toilet, stories, prayer and roughly 30 times of either taking the kids back to their beds or me coming in to lovingly hiss at them to be quiet. During summer, I get to console my youngest that yes, the sun is still up, but that doesn’t make it morning yet, while she fights back tears of genuine disappointment and kills and buries me with her looks. Most nights, I naïvely think this should take about 20 minutes, but it tends to blow out to an hour—sometimes two during the holidays. I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t come to me for bedtime advice!
When the boys were very little they used to be bathed and in bed by 5 pm. With two under three, I really needed the time to myself. I found that putting lavender in the bath helped to make them go to sleep. I loved to read to them, at least two books—one each—which they were allowed to choose. Aaron always had to have a night light left on to help him go to sleep. If they had rough nights, I would sing them their favourite songs. I have no Dame Kirk voice but they would go off to sleep being rocked and sung to.
Rachel L A
Bedtime in our house is between 7 and 7.30 pm and usually, I’m racing to get Jax down on time after dinner. Typically, I’ll start to run the bath water while I’m laying out his night clothes and preparing his room. While we’re bathing, we brush his teeth and chat about the day and sing songs—just whatever comes to mind. As I am getting him dressed, I talk about how we’re about to go to bed. Sometimes we’ll read stories, sing or say a little prayer, but usually by this time, he’s winding down and very eager to go to sleep. I make sure his sound machine is on and lay him in the bed. Many nights, I can just say goodnight and leave him to go to sleep, but sometimes, I rest my hand on his legs or tummy and let him know I’m there before I leave him to drift off peacefully. Part of my routine is looking at him longingly with a little bit of jealousy that he gets to go to bed at 7 pm and sleep for almost 12 hours. What a life!
We aim to be in bed by 8 pm, but it's not so structured as when [my three girls] were infants and I had to have them in a routine. We read books most nights, the girls have to pray, then lights out. Prayer before bed is a non-negotiable. I co-sleep with all my babies so pretty much that's when I get in bed and go online, read or work on prep for the show.
When I was younger, 8 pm was my bedtime. Dad would sometimes let me ride on his shoulders down the hallway and every night, Mum would put me to bed by chatting with me for 20 minutes and then saying a prayer with me. When she wasn’t home, I’d sometimes cry myself to sleep because “Mum hadn’t put me to bed.” I also remember the day I was allowed to stay up later than my younger sisters—oh how liberating that was! Now, I long to go to bed by 8 pm.
Eight o’clock is Elliott’s bedtime, so after dinner, depending on how late it is (and how organised we are), we will either play with him for a bit or it’s straight to a shower or a bath. After he’s in his pyjamas, he’ll pick a book and crawl onto my lap for me to read it to him. He’ll inevitably want to read more than one book and I’ll allow it, depending on how eager I am for him to get to sleep! Then it’s teeth time and my husband and I will sing him the goodnight song (we literally sing goodnight to Daddy, Mummy, Elliott and Jesus—and whoever might be present). I’ll put him in his sleeping bag in his cot and sit on the floor by it, say a prayer with him and then sing him three lullabies. If I’m lucky, he’ll be asleep before the end of the last song, if not, I’ll just continue to sit there in silence until he drifts off to sleep.