Are you ready to use some bedtime magic? The kind of bedtime magic that helps get the kids between the covers?

Mary Poppins had it right with “as spoonful of sugar”. A little magic at bedtime can work wonders. Particularly if you cook it up.

One of the things I most love doing with young kids in the classroom is cook.

We made gnocchi from scratch once. It was a huge hit. At the end of the school year the kids looked back on making gnocchi as one of the more memorable moments. They got to mush as well as mix during preparation. Then there was eating something so comforting with the knowledge of accomplishment. That and knitting the Calendar Scarf together…but that’s another story. There’s something alchemical about cooking as observed by comedian Rita Rudner:

“How come when you mix water and flour together you get glue…and then you add eggs and sugar and you get cake? Where does the glue go?”

The day after the gnocchi feast, Ian came up to me quite excited. He said “Guess what?!? You take some gnocchi, put it in the oven with some stones and twigs, add glitter and green paint. Bake it at 1,000 degrees for two days and when you eat it, you become a monster!”

Ian broke the silence with “And THAT’S SCIENCE!”

I suppose that kind of creativity is science or inspires science. It’s also magic and what child isn’t captivated by harmless enchantment and transformation? And couldn’t we put that belief in magic to work when it comes to sleep? If positive affirmations work for sleep readiness, then surely a little bit of parent placebo potions – helped along by the kids – will make for an easy and fun bedtime prequel.

Just because we’re days away from Halloween, doesn’t mean your bedtime routine magic can’t continue – particularly if it’s effective! Think of it as Dumbo’s magic feather.

Essential Oil Magic

Some parents have stated that essential oils have changed their lives. If they’re not overdone, a little bit of aromatherapy can ease the environment, calming everyone down for sleep.

The simplest way to use essential oils at bedtime is to drop a few drops into a bath. Add some Epsom salts if your child is older than 6, inviting this junior sorcerer’s apprentice to stir the bath brew. Epsom salts add magnesium sulfate. Livestrong has guidelines for how to include Epsom salts here.

The classic calming bedtime scent is lavender. Go easy: just 2 drops for children under 4 and 4 drops for children between the ages of 4 and 7. Some aromatherapy experts advise one drop for each year of a child’s age.

Warning: always ask your pediatrician about skin sensitivities and allergies. If there is some question about health issues, just stir the brew by saying some sleepy affirmations such as “This bath washes away all my worries and I sleep deeply throughout the night.”

Remember Dumbo’s magic feather?

A foot bath is another solution for a pre-bedtime ritual when it’s been a hectic day. A post trick-or-treat foot bath followed by a massage is a calm way to end what for most kids is the busiest of evenings.

Essential oils can be put in a diffuser but be wary – those fancy diffusers that spray a mist into the air should be placed out of sight because they are so appealing! In addition to lavender, other calming oils include cedar wood, jasmine, vanilla, sweet marjoram, Roman chamomile, frankincense, and many essential oil vendors offer calming blends.

Other ways to use scent as a sleep cue is to purchase a tiny sachet or pillow out of items like chamomile and lavender flowers, rosebuds, hops or lemon balm. Making one with your child and drawing a picture of a special sleepy time talisman adds to the magic of intention.

It could be any scent that’s comforting. One of my bedtime ritual tokens was a calico cat from Vermont stuffed with balsam pine needles. The half-moon curve of the kitty’s ears fit under my nose perfectly and fro the ages of 5-6 1/2 I could not go to sleep without inhaling the scent of pine.


Some children respond well to calm, peaceful touching. You can use almond, coconut, or jojoba oil, gently massaging feet, or the back of the neck, or even the child’s hands. There is an acupressure point on your child’s forehead, just above the eyebrows, that when stroked for half a minute, will calm your child down.

You may want to investigate some of the recipes for bedtime balms that are out on the internet, having the creation of that concoction a special afternoon craft activity.

Tea “brews”

Chamomile tea is the Queen of the Good Night’s Sleep when it comes to tea. Caffeine free, of course. Personally, I successfully made it over an adult bedtime anxiety phase with the ritual of brewing and drinking chamomile tea out of a special bedtime cup.

There are other tea blends out there – some home-made – and some will suggest you include honey and/or heavy cream. Remember – digesting fatty foods can interrupt sleep and honey is still sugar.

Use your parental wisdom and your child’s disposition to determine what kind of intentional magic can help ease the way to sleep.

And speaking of magic, there’s nothing more magic than a routine that allows you to go on auto-pilot. To help plan for those routines, get the free Bedtime Blueprint by filling in the form below. It’s a 16-page e-book and three different charts to make planning for sleep a breeze.