Ep #8: Simple Tips To Make Your Child’s Bedtime Easier (Part 1)

Parenthood Prep with Devon Clement | Simple Tips To Make Your Child’s Bedtime Easier (Part 1)

Are you struggling to get your toddler, preschooler, or big kid into bed on time without losing your mind? Does this back and forth leave you routinely dreading bedtime? Well, for the next two episodes, I’m showing you how to make bedtime smooth, easy, and dare I say, delightful. 

It might feel impossible right now, but your everyday bedtime routine can be something that both you and your child actually look forward to. Whatever your bedtime routine looks like right now and whether or not you’re great at implementing it, this episode is here to help you consistently create peace and ease around your kid’s bedtime every time.

Tune in this week to discover some simple ways to make bedtime easier. This isn’t about reinventing the wheel, it’s about the small adjustments you can make as you move toward bedtime in your household. I discuss the common bedtime mistakes parents make that you’ve probably never heard about, and you’ll learn practical tips you can implement right away.

If you enjoyed today’s show, and don’t want to worry about missing an episode, you can follow the show wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you haven’t already, I would really appreciate if you could share the podcast with others who you think would benefit, and leave a rating and review to let me know what you think.


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why most parents dread the bedtime routine, and how to start enjoying it.
  • The number one mistake parents make when they’re doing a bedtime routine.
  • Why consistency matters when creating an easy bedtime routine.
  • The factors that might currently make your bedtime routine a nightmare.
  • Some ways to make bedtime an easier and more joyful experience for everyone involved.


Listen to the Full Episode:

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Full Episode Transcript:

Are you struggling to get your toddler, preschooler, or big kid into bed on time, in a way that feels good to everyone? Do you find yourself dreading bedtime? For the next two episodes, we’re going to do a two-part series on how to make bedtime smooth, easy, and dare I say, delightful.

Welcome to Parenthood Prep, the only show that helps sleep-deprived parents and overwhelmed parents-to-be successfully navigate those all-important early years with their baby, toddler, and child. If you are ready to provide the best care for your newborn, manage those toddler tantrums, and grow with your child, you’re in the right place. Now here’s your host, baby and parenting expert, Devon Clement.

Hello, and welcome back to the Parenthood Prep. We are here on a gorgeous day in May; the weather has finally turned. It is warm. It feels like summer is in the air. I am so excited. You’ll probably hear me talk about the weather a lot during these initial chit-chat times because I’m obsessed with good weather. I hate the cold. I hate the winter. I hate the crummy, gray, rainy, miserable days that just seemed to go on forever and never end.

So, this is my absolute favorite time of year. And I hope that you are getting out there, with or without your babies and kids, and enjoying it, getting fresh air, and just having a really wonderful time.

Today, I want to shift gears a little bit. Last week we talked about babies and crying and how to get your small baby to stop crying. Now, I want to shift into talking a little bit about big kids some more, toddlers, preschoolers. Really, any kiddo that’s a little bit older who can talk to you, is a little bit more communicative, and able to do things. Maybe they’re sleeping in a bed. Maybe they’re still in a crib.

But I want to talk to you about how to make that bedtime routine, that every day bedtime, something that is really enjoyable for everyone. And something that you really look forward to instead of dreading. That is the number one thing I hear from potential sleep training clients, or just friends, people I’m talking to. That they just hate that end-of-the-day bedtime.

It’s not because they’re sad that their kid is going to sleep, they’re usually pretty excited for their kid to go to sleep. But that it’s such a process, and it can involve so much fighting and frustration and challenges. I don’t want that for you, and I don’t want that for your kiddos. I want it to be something that is enjoyable and fun, and something that everyone looks forward to.

How do we do that? Well, there are a couple of different things that I want to talk about. I assume everybody at least knows what a bedtime routine is. Maybe you haven’t been great about implementing it or sticking with it. Or maybe you have different people who are doing it. But you know what a bedtime routine is. It’s getting ready for bed.

So, maybe it starts with dinner. Maybe it starts after dinner. Change into pajamas, brush your teeth, read some books, maybe you watch a little bit of a video or some TV. Maybe you have a bottle or a cup of milk or a cup of water. You just want to have those things be as consistent as possible before you get tucked into bed. And then, in the dream world you say goodnight to your kiddo, after all that’s done, they fall asleep, and you see them again in the morning.

Of course, we know that this is not always the case. So, I’m going to tell you about what I feel like is the number one mistake that parents make when they’re doing a bedtime routine that is not something very commonly talked about. It’s not really mentioned in the books, in the websites, things like that. It’s something that I think can be easily missed, and also is pretty easy to fix. So, I’m really happy to be sharing that with you today.

That is what I call the “bedtime cut off.” What does that mean? Does it mean that you become a drill sergeant, and you scream at your kids that they have to go to bed, that it’s lights out, that you’re not taking this anymore, that they can’t have TV for a week, their iPad is going in the garbage? No, of course not. Is this what sometimes ends up happening? Yes.

I want to try to avoid that. I want to make this process smooth and easy for everyone. A really important aspect of the bedtime routine is that it’s consistent. You want to do the same steps, in basically the same order, in the same locations. This way, anyone can do the routine. So, if it’s not the same person that’s always doing it, if it’s a babysitter, if it’s the other parent, if they’re staying at the grandparents’ house for the weekend, everyone knows how to follow the routine and what steps to do. It becomes a no-brainer.

There are so many decisions, so many questions, and so many things that you need to think of as a parent, the cognitive load is just so high that we really want to remove those questions whenever possible. So, if we know, step one: Brush teeth. Step two: Go potty. Step three: Read books. Step four: Go to sleep. We’re just going to do those things night after night, and it’s great.

And when you’re thinking about the location of where you’re doing these things, and how the steps are moving from one to the other, you really want to think about the energy flow. So, what does that mean? Am I saying you need to read your child’s aura? No, of course not. We’re not talking about some like woo-woo concept, we’re talking about just the feeling of the progression from one thing to another.

We want to keep it contained. So, we don’t want to have a step in the middle of the routine, where they’re going over the toy box and taking out toys and playing with toys, because then that just explodes the energy all over the place.

A few years ago, I sleep trained a friend’s toddler twins, and she also had a five year old. They lived in this really cute, tall house. So, there was a lot of up and down stairs movement; the main floor was kind of the second floor. And then, the bath that she’d bathe all the kids in was downstairs, on the first floor.

Prior to me coming to help her with sleep training, she was actually getting them from the bath and putting them in the car. They would drive them around until they fell asleep. And then, they would carry them into the house and put them in the cribs. So, we wanted to change all of that. We wanted them falling asleep in their cribs, and we wanted her daughter falling asleep in her bed.

I looked at what was happening, prior to the car thing, they would bathe them on the first floor, the downstairs, then they would go up to the second floor. And the second floor was kind of the main living area. So, the kitchen was there, the dining room was there, and the playroom was there. And then, all the bedrooms were upstairs on the third floor.

So, when they stopped on the second floor, she would sit and nurse the babies, and her daughter would start playing with toys. She would start taking toys out, or be playing with her toys that were out from before. And then, the babies would be distracted and would want to start playing with the toys too. So, we had this bath that was calming and soothing, and everybody was in their pajamas, ready to go, and starting to wind down.

And then, they would explode the energy all over the second floor, go back to playing, and all this and that. Then it’s really hard to rein that back in, gather that all back up, not to mention the mess of now that we’ve taken out toys again, and get the energy moving upstairs to bed. Because, of course, do kids want to stop playing with toys and go upstairs to bed? No, they don’t.

So, we never want to add something in that’s going to be difficult to pull them away from once we start to get to the end of the bedtime routine. We want to look at where is that energy going.

Another family that I worked with, they had two toddlers, about a year apart. They wanted help with their bedtime, their overnight, and with sleep training. What they would do is, the girls had a shared bedroom with a bathroom attached, so the bathroom actually led right out into the bedroom. They would bathe them in there.

And then, sometimes, if the three year old asked for it, they would leave the bedroom and go back out to the living room to read books out there. I was like, “No, we are not doing that anymore. As soon as we come into the bedroom to take a bath in the attached bathroom, we are shutting the bedroom door and we are not leaving again, because we don’t want to have to wrangle that energy and those kids back into this room.”

So, figure out if there are any leaks, any explosions in your flow from one step to another. Now, sometimes you’re not lucky enough to have an ensuite bathroom, and they have to get a bath down the hall, that’s fine. Or even if they’re getting bathed in your bathroom or whatever. But once you’ve done the bath, if you’re doing the bath every night or whatever, don’t let them deviate from the path to the next step, which is typically their room.

If you want to keep their pajamas in your room and change them in there, and read books in there, and then bring them to their beds, that’s fine. But do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Do not let them start taking out toys after we’re at this part in the routine.

Because here’s the thing also. Kids generally love baths, they’re fun. They like to play in the bath. So, if you’re moving from dinner, toys, iPad, TV, whatever’s happening after dinner, to the bedtime routine, you want them to be going to something good, or else they’re going to fight and they’re going to cry and scream and they’re going to not want to do it.

So, if you say, “Oh, hey, give me your iPad, it’s time to go brush your teeth and get in bed,” they’re going to hate that. But if you say, “Give me your iPad, it’s time to take a bath,” they’ll be like, “Great, I love the bath.” That’s the next fun thing. Then, they’re in the bath, they’re already in the bathroom, “What do we do now?” “Brush teeth and potty.” “It’s right here.” “Then we put our pajamas on. Then we go into our room to read books, which is also very fun and cool, and we love it.”

We want to be keeping an eye on the order of events as well as the energy flow. Just look at your routine. If you’re having problems with your routine, where is that sticking point? What is going wrong? What are we struggling with in that moment? Where is the bottleneck? Where’s the energy exploding out all over the place?

Or where am I asking them to give up something good in order to do something that’s a chore, that’s difficult for them? None of us want to do that. None of us want to stop watching TV so that we can clean up the kitchen. But we do it because we know we have to. And kids just don’t have that same sense of responsibility. So, of course, they want to keep playing with toys.

I recommend, after dinner, if there is time for a little play time or downtime or whatever, make it be something that’s pretty chill. We’re not going to make another mess. We’re not going to take a lot of stuff out. Do all that clean up before dinner, with the kids, so that the flow process to the next step of the bedtime routine is easier.

So, we’ve got toys, we’ve got outside, we’ve got this or that, we’ve got playing, then we’re going into dinner. So, we’re going to do the cleanup before we sit down to dinner. Then, after dinner, I recommend something kind of calm, kind of relaxing. Maybe it’s screen time if you’re doing screen time.

Maybe it’s going out for a family walk. Like I said, the weather’s been beautiful. I don’t know where you live, but go out for a nice walk. Do something calm that’s not going to make a bigger mess. Have the kids help you clean up the kitchen. Have them bring their plates into the kitchen. Have them load the dishwasher for you, whatever, walk the dog. Different ways that we can keep things kind of calm, but not make another mess, so that as we move to the next stage of the routine it’s an easy transition.

I have another client where I sleep trained both of her kids. I sleep trained her older daughter when she was a baby. And then, she contacted me when she was pregnant with the second one, which happens all the time. Because they’re like,  “Sleep training was the best thing ever. How soon can we do it with this new baby?” Things were going great with the toddler, so we sleep trained the baby.

A couple months later, she reached out to me because she was having some issues with the older daughter, who was like three or four at the time, with the bedtime routine, and she was resisting it. I said, “Okay, tell me, in detail, what you do. What the bedtime routine looks like.” And she said, “Okay, we do this… We do that… Then, we look at videos and pictures on my phone. Then, she goes to brush her teeth and use the potty, and whatever.”

I said, “There’s your problem right there. Because who wants to stop looking at videos and pictures to go brush their teeth? Nobody. So, it’s fine for you to do that, look at the pictures and videos, but do it after you’ve done all the difficult things so that it’s a reward. ‘Okay, if you brush your teeth and go potty, then we can look at the pictures.’ That’s the next step.”

So, when you’re mapping out that bedtime routine, when you’re laying out that bedtime routine, you want the steps to be easy to get to. Especially the difficult steps, “Okay, we just hopped out of the bath. Let’s quick brush our teeth.” You can brush teeth in the bath, a lot of people do that. Whatever. How can we make these things easier?

And then, “Okay, as soon as you’re done brushing your teeth, we can go look at videos, we can read books, we can do whatever you want.” Now, a caveat here is that I don’t actually love screens, especially a phone or an iPad, right before they fall asleep because it’s blue light and it can be stimulating to them. I don’t think it’s the end of the world. I mean, we all fall asleep looking at our phones. I’ll have more to say about that in a future episode.

But I wouldn’t do too much, especially if you have a kid who’s easily overstimulated. “I probably would not do too much screen time right before bed,” but this was working for them. This was working in their situation, so I was fine with it. I said, “But just think about it. She doesn’t want to stop doing that to brush her teeth, so of course she’s going to fight and give you a hard time.”

So, map out the steps to your routine, and the location where those things are going to happen, and make sure that there are no energy leaks or situations where things can start exploding all over the place.

And don’t forget to send us your questions or your baby roasts, or both. Go to our website, HappyFamilyAfter.com, and on the right hand side there’s a little gray tab that says, “Leave a voicemail.” Just go ahead and record that, and you might be featured on a future episode. I can’t wait to hear. And then, next week, I’m going to talk to you about my absolute favorite bedtime tip, and the number one mistake that most people make.

If you enjoyed today’s show and don’t want to worry about missing an episode, you can follow the show wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you haven’t already, I would really appreciate if you could share the podcast with others who you think would benefit. Leave a rating and review to let me know what you think. It doesn’t have to be a five-star rating, although I sure hope you love the show. I want your honest feedback, so I can create an awesome podcast that provides tons of value.

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Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Parenthood Prep. If you want to learn more about the services Devon offers, as well as access her free monthly newborn care webinars, head on over to www.HappyFamilyAfter.com.

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