How one mom establishes a nighttime sleep routine for her kids

Eleni McMullin of Convey the Moment shares her tricks for helping her kids foster a positive relationship with bedtime.

Eleni McMullin of Convey the Moment shares the details of her two kids' nighttime sleep routine
Photo courtesy of Eleni McMullin

Bedtime is something I remember looking forward to during our days of infertility and sometimes I have to pinch myself when I sit back and realize that it is now my reality. There is something so special about being together as a family, laughing, splashing in the tub and finishing up with a book before putting my babies, two-and-a-half-year-old Harlow and 12-month-old Arrow, to bed at the end of the day.

That said, before becoming a mother, I was terrified of never sleeping again, or having to fight about bedtime with my babies; I worried that, for some reason, it would be a negative experience.  So, when I was first pregnant, I reached out to the mothers in my community and the best advice I received was to establish a predictable bedtime routine that would help my kids develop a positive relationship with the end of the day. I’m a very slow-paced mother—we don’t follow a strict schedule throughout the day (other than nap times)—but one thing that is always consistent is Harlow and Arrow’s bedtime routine.

I truly believe this has helped my little ones foster a positive relationship with sleep and, though Arrow required a little more support (i.e. a dark room, a VTech sound machine, a reliable nap schedule), they both know what to expect every single day when it comes to their bedtime routine. The following is what works for our family, but of course every child is unique and may require a different routine.

Eleni McMullin of Convey the Moment shares the details of her two kids' nighttime sleep routine
Photo courtesy of Eleni McMullin

Keep your evening activities relatively consistent

We established this routine when Harlow was a baby and have since implemented it with Arrow as well. We always eat dinner together as a family and shortly after have playtime where the kids run around together, either in their rooms or their playroom. Arrow absolutely loves playing with anything and everything of Harlow’s, and there are always some words of encouragement about the importance of sharing, but overall it has been so fun getting to watch them interact with one another.

I prepare them before their baths with a five-minute countdown, so that when it is time, they (particularly Harlow) are prepared for the transition to the tub. Once the kids are in the bath, I love to have music playing and the diffuser going so we can just spend time together as a family, singing, playing and just being together.

Once bath time is over, we always do a massage with a lavender lotion, and then get into our pyjamas.  Harlow is very consistent with applying her essential oils (lavender with fractionated coconut oil) to the bottoms of her feet and on her wrists, and then snuggles in for a book and a song. Arrow, on the other hand, likes to crawl away and choose 12 books of his own (to throw everywhere, of course).

After reading, Arrow gets into his sleep sack and Harlow climbs into her bed, the VTech sound machines go on and I do not see them until the morning (other than when I check the monitors—more on this below). Harlow has gone through phases where she becomes harder to put to sleep or randomly wakes up needing a drink or to go potty—but for the most part, once we say goodnight, we generally don’t hear a peep until morning.

Eleni McMullin of Convey the Moment shares the details of her two kids' nighttime sleep routine
Photo courtesy of Eleni McMullin

Rely on monitors to check in throughout the night

Once the kids are in bed, the one thing that allows me to relax and take some much-needed time to myself is knowing that I am still tuned in to their every move and sound. Having baby monitors that I can trust is so vital for allowing me to fully relax.

What I love most about the VTech Video Baby Monitor with Pan & Tilt Camera is that I am able to see our babies as well as hear them when they’re in their rooms. The two-way, talk-back intercom is amazing for encouraging Harlow to lay back down if she is up playing with her stuffed animals or tucking her baby in for the tenth time. It offers a lot of peace of mind, especially when you are first transitioning your baby out of your room and into their own nursery. I love that I am able to watch their every move if I feel like it; it’s very comforting to know for sure that our baby is okay in the other room.

In addition to our video monitor, the VTech Enhanced Range Digital Audio Monitor has been wonderful because of its extended range (up to 1500 feet). I’m able to go down to the basement and practice my yoga once the babies are tucked in for the night and know that if they need anything, I’ll definitely hear it. It’s also really useful when we are out back during the summer months and the monitor is able to reach the other side of the house. Nothing helps me relax more than keeping tabs—both visual and audio—on our babies.

Mores tips for promoting a regular sleep routine for your toddler and infant

Here are some additional tips that have helped us and might work for your family, too:

  • Try to have dinner around the same time each day so that their evening routine can be predictable.
  • Likewise, stick to a regular bedtime as best as you can. In our personal experience, overtired children do not fall asleep more quickly.
  • Incorporate essential oils—they’re so soothing!
  • We allow our toddler to choose her own books, toothbrush and toothpaste so she feels she is making decisions about her bedtime routine.
  • We generally like to make bedtime quick, so that the babies do not become overtired.

Read more about Eleni’s journey at instagram.com/conveythemoment.

Read more:
How to tackle double bedtime when you’re alone with a toddler and a baby
5 essentials for co-sleeping with a newborn baby—and pets
How steady sleeping patterns and routines helped my fussy baby thrive

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