Starting a Nighttime Routine for Toddlers

I knew better. This isn’t my first go at this parenting thing. I knew I shouldn’t have let it go this far. What did I let get out of control? My two youngest’s bedtimes. AJ is 3 years old and I can count how many times he’s been put down in his crib before 10 PM. Amana is 16 months and still isn’t sleeping through the night or staying in her crib.

There’s a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is because of my husband’s old work schedule. He was commuting for work and would leave before the kids awoke, and got home around the time they (should) go to bed. With a dynamic like that, it was natural for me to let both AJ and Amana stay up as late as they wanted to. At first it wasn’t too out of hand, AJ would go to sleep by 10:30, Amana around the same time. Since I am at home with them all day, it seemed okay to let them set their own sleep schedule. Little did I know a change was coming, for the worst.

Around 14 months Amana stopped wanting to be placed in her crib at all. She would literally start to peek out as soon as she felt herself being carried to the crib. As soon as you would lay her in the crib, she would scream and cry uncontrollably! Once she was in privy to the fact that she would be placed on her crib at some point after she fell asleep, she started staying up later, and later, 11, 11:30, even a few minutes past 12. I thought for sure with the later hours, she wouldn’t wake during the night, nope! She was still waking up at 1:30 or 2 in the morning to nurse and co-sleep with me.

The morning routine wasn’t helpful, because AJ is not only a night owl, but an early riser and usually wakes at dawn. With that last ingredient you have the perfect batch for a sleep-deprived mommy on edge! It started spilling over like a boiling pot, my work was slowing down, my thoughts weren’t clear, it was even hard to get out of bed just to feed the kids breakfast. Not to mention, functioning without caffeine was nearly impossible.

I had reached my limit, and it was time to make a change.

Coming up with a plan

In a time that seems far away, I was a very organized person; then motherhood happened. I know creating a nighttime routine for not one, but two toddlers is going to be some work. I have to plan realistically.

In the first week, my goal is to begin the nighttime routine between 8-8:30. I want to have AJ in his crib by 9:30 and Amana asleep by 10:00. I know I have to work the time back, but for the first week that is a realistic goal for both of them.

Bedtime Story with toddlers

My challenge will be creating a calm environment for them every night so I am going to make an agreement with my older children and my husband to turn off all loud-noises or distracting electronics for 30 to 45 minutes while nighttime routine is in motion.

Their routine will consist of bath time, lotion massage, bedtime story and nighttime nursing (for Amana). My helpful aids will be support from my husband and older children, speaking in a calm soothing tone, being consistent, and a little lavender oil.

The Importance of a Nighttime Routine

Even though it’s been over ten years since I last had toddlers, I vividly remember establishing a nighttime routine with the twins. I did the cry-it-out method and though a little painful, for me, it was short and sweet. It allowed me to have space and time to unwind from my day as well as prepare for the next day.

Creating a nighttime routine with my toddlers.

Now that I’ve experienced not having a nighttime routine, I know more than ever the importance of it. Mom’s have a tendency to always put the needs of their family first, I’m a proud member of that club, but I have learned that we have to take care of ourselves in order to take care of our family. I cannot speak for all of us, but for me, as a mother, having a nighttime routine is apart of my self-care. It gives structure to an occupation that has so many responsibilities, that it’s easy for everything to overlap. While at times juggling those responsibilities look easy, it’s a demanding task that requires much work, and equally, that work requires recovery. In order for me to recover the way I need to, I have to have structure. That structure provides a flexible boundary for me to get some much needed rest. After all, I deserve it.


Will you join me on this part of my journey? I will be posting about our nighttime routine journey everyday on Instagram stories. You can follow @chara.jane to keep up, give tips, and help me be accountable. I’d love to hear from you, how did you get through setting up your nighttime routine(s)? Did any of your children have difficulties?

Baby Kid Life Toddler

Chara Jané View All →

Sharing the sunshine of life; wife, mom, faith, and purpose.

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