Want to simplify your family life in 2016? Add or enrich a routine. This post revisits Sleepytime Club’s post from September, 2015.

Last week’s post had an easy way to acquire new habits in 2016.

Does your family have consistent routines in place? WHen it comes to bedtime routines for families, consistency is key. It used to drive me crazy when my father said to get my ducks in a row. But he was right. Routines work.

It’s so easy to get off track, particularly when you juggle different roles. And sometimes those roles are in your head – we respond as our inner 12-year-old or we absorb images of what we “should” be doing from the commercial culture around us.

That’s why grounding ourselves in routines. You don’t have to go for it all. As Christie Miller, healthy living architect at EatTrainWin observes “all of nothing means nothing at all.” So go for the 80/20 rule. Let 20% slide and celebrate the 80%.

All or nothingmeansnothing at all

I found this article a concise, helpful rundown on family routines.

Here’s a suggested checklist and schedule for a simple bedtime routine. Times are just suggested, based on the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations for school-aged children (6-13 years).

It’s recommended that for optimal health – and that includes mood, focus, and long-term health issues such as obesity – this age group get between 9-11 hours of sleep. I’ve assumed there is a 6:30 am wake-up time to get to school by 7:30, and chosen 10 hours of sleep as a median.

7:30 Bath Time
7:50 Bathroom, brush teeth, wash face
8:00 PJ’s, clothes & supplies out for tomorrow
8:05 Quiet Play (go here for a free coloring page from Kim Geiger’s Persimmons Studios)
8:10 Story time
8:30 Lights out

Which gives moms and dads 1 ½ to 2 hours for personal time…so routines have immediate payoffs for everyone’s wellbeing!

Here’s another plus of having consistent family routines in place: if there are older children in the house (14-17 year olds need 8-10 hours of sleep) they get an extra hour for themselves, feeling a bit more “grown-up”. You’re laying the foundation for a child who grows into an older teen who respects sleep. Dr. Robert Rosenberg has stated that study after study indicates that children taught to have a solid bedtime routine and prioritize sleep maintain that priority as they get older.

Sleepytime Club doesn’t get crafty very often, but involving you children in creating a board or display with routines that work for you and your family is a powerful way to have them actively engaged in their own routines – which ultimately give them freedom.

It’s also comforting for a child to know that famlily routines are consistent and stabile even after an overstimulating day.

Rather than print out a bedtime routine checklist try one of these collaborative alternatives:

  • Get a dry-erase board so you can tweak the schedule, design your own family icons for each step of the bedtime routine.
  • Use magnet and dry erase board paint and create a multi-media wall with routines, messages, magnets, and messages. We did this on the door of my daughter’s room and during those surly teen years, it was a way to give her gentle reminders and encouragement. She may have thought we were as dumb as rocks during those years, but when she went to college, I noticed she hadn’t erased any of our attempts at inspiration.
  • Make bedtime routine cards (index cards, scrap cardboard, laminate) for each step, punch one hole in the top of each card, and hang them on a piece of foam core using adhesive-backed hooks (the local dollar store has foam core in lovely colors for …a dollar!) Make a ritual out of how you arrange and rearrange them.
  • Use different colors and shapes of post-its on foam core to visualize bedtime and other family routines. This is one of my favorite ways to organize my to-do list. Particularly helpful for those of us with lives that don’t run like a Swiss railway.Sleepytime Club’s Bedtime Blueprint is a terrific tool for organizing your day with an eye towards a peaceful bedtime routine…because when sleep goes right, everything falls into place. Get it below.

    Try putting this into place this weekend. Your kids might get so excited by their bedtime routine creations, they may even want to test-run it and go to bed early. (We can dream even while we’re awake…can’t we?)

And…if you’re going to go off your weekday bedtime routine (not recommended, but remember the 80/20 rule!) do so by only 15 or 20 minutes. What tools do you use to help keep your routines on track? Please share below.