It is official… We have a toddler. The craziest part about being a toddler mom is the fact that I feel like I don’t know what I am doing half the time. As a former preschool teacher, I felt like I was going to be the best mom, I’ve attended TONS of training, I ran a very successful classroom and received great scores on class observations, all the things. But sometimes when my 16 months old won’t go the way I want him to go I totally forget what I am supposed to do to get us back on track! So the struggle is real for everyone, even people who are trained to handle these little moments of misbehavior.
I am going to share our nightly routine with you, but know that this is what works for us right now. Parenthood is all about doing what works for you and your family and being flexible (something I am still working on) when things don’t work. If you can take something from our nightly routine, please do. If you have any other advice for us, let me know. Being a mom is hard and when they say, “it takes a village” they aren’t lying. We are very lucky to have an online village where people can share all the things that work for them and all the things that don’t and then we get to pick and choose from there and make our own parenting decisions.
Some pieces of our routine we started at birth. We have been very consistent with bedtime being at 7:00 pm and we always read a book before bed. Other little things have been tweaked here and there but those two have never changed. The bedtime being consistent is a huge part of any bedtime routine. Well let’s be honest, a consistent routine is key for a child’s success in pretty much anything, they crave structure. (I will write a whole blog post all about this later.) And the reading before bed is 1) a great way to trigger that we are switching from playtime to bedtime (which will help when we start weaning.) And 2) Reading is a HUGE passion of mine. I want my children to hear and have access to the rich language of storybooks, I want the loving connection reading aloud gives us (do you listen to the Read Aloud Revival?), and I vowed early on that my children would be giant book nerds just like me.
Another thing I want to note before I jump into nightly our routine is we use doTERRA essential oils as part of our routine. We use essential oils for all kinds of things, but especially for sleep. We have noticed a huge difference in M’s sleep when we started using oils in our nightly routine. We use our oils both topically (on his skin) and aromatically (in his diffuser).
Things to Remember When Setting Up Your Nighttime Routine:
Bedtime: You have to choose the time to put your child to bed every day. This is one of the biggest decisions you will need to make Here are two questions for you to consider when choosing a bedtime.
- What time works for your family?
- What time does your child need to get up in the morning?
These two questions will help you decide what time to put your child goes to bed. What worked best for us was to have M asleep no later than 7 pm. We chose 7:00 pm because my husband sometimes works late and he wants to come home and spend a little time with M before we put him to bed. We also chose 7:00 pm because M could wake up whenever he wants in the morning. As a Stay at Home Mom, we don’t have to wake M up to get him ready for school or daycare, so there is no need to adjust his schedule. If you are going to daycare, you might have to adjust the schedule. For example, a good friend of mine puts her daughter down at 6:00 pm because she gets up at 6:00 am to get ready for daycare. The key here is making sure your child gets enough sleep, and the schedule is something you and your child can live with. If you want a later bedtime and your child can handle going to bed at 8 or even 9:00 PM that is your choice. You have to do what works best for your family.
Essential Oils: I touched on this a little bit already, but essential oils are a huge part of our nighttime routine. Essential oils are a great way to promote a calm and relaxing environment for sleep. The properties of essential oils help to support M’s body, which helps M to fall asleep and keep him asleep.
The blend we are diffusing right now is really working is 2 drops Frankincense, 2 drops Balance, 2 drops Vetiver, and 2 drops Cedarwood. Another blend we like to diffuse in his room is Peace. If you are using a diffuser in your child’s room for sleep I recommend turning it on at least 30 minutes before bedtime to get those properties in the air to help with calming and sleep.
We also use 2 roller ball blends to help support his immune system and his sleep. The first blend is our Sleep Tight Blend: Balance, Serenity, Vetiver, and Frankincense. The second roller ball blend is our Daily Immunity Boost Blend: On Guard, Copaiba, Frankincense, and Arborvitae. We put these blends all over the bottom of his feet and up and down his spine. (If you want to learn more about essential oils here are a few more resources, or feel free to leave a comment.)
Be Consistent: Consistency is key with any good nighttime routine. If your bedtime routine is the same every day your child will always know what to expect. Having a predictable routine will naturally help your child get ready for bed and fall asleep faster. Did you know their body would naturally release melatonin (the natural sleep regulation hormone) at this time every day if you are consistent with bedtime at the same time? This is nature’s way of naturally helping you get them to sleep and keeping them asleep. If you are not consistent with bedtime their body will not know when to release the melatonin causing a stronger fight at bedtime.
The Hour Before Bedtime is Important Too: Believe it or not but your bedtime routine starts before you’re even thinking about bedtime. Having a chaotic, fast-paced, or busy evening can wind your child up making for a fight when it’s time to settle down for bed.
This is a personal struggle for my family. Like I said he gets home late from work some nights and he wants to wrestle, tickle, and run around with M because he hasn’t seen him all day. Then when it is time to put M to bed he wonders why M can’t settle and be calm. So now instead of getting M all riled up we dim the lights, have Alexa play us some calm music, we talk in quieter voices, and do quieter activities like reading books and other quiet activities.
NOTE: We do not really watch TV with M. We will occasionally put on Moana as a family on the weekends, but generally we do not watch TV (M doesn’t sit still to watch it.) If you are a screen time family (NO JUDGEMENT) try not to watch it with your child up to an hour before bed. Studies have shown that children who participate in screen time up to an hour before bed struggle with bedtime and falling asleep at a reasonable hour.
Our Nighttime Schedule/Routine
5:45ish Dinner Together as a Family.
6:15ish Clean M up then take him to get his jammies on and turn on his diffuser
6:30ish: Daddy and M play calm games and/or read books
6:45ish: Put M in his sleepsack and breastfeed.
7:00 PM Put M in his crib awake and walk out of the room.
He puts himself to sleep in 5 to 10ish minutes.
So there you have it. Our nightly routine. What does your routine look like?