One of the most common questions I get from readers is “how do you manage bedtime with three kids when you’re on your own?” So I thought I would share our bedtime routine and a few tricks and tips I have for managing three kids when you’re flying solo at home. My husband sometimes travels for work for weeks at a time, so I had to come up with a good routine that worked for us long term, rather than just surviving a few days on my own. And the first time I did it, I had a lot of anxiety about it and felt very overwhelmed. But instead of thinking “omg I have to put three kids to bed all by myself” I just focus on one at a time and it definitely helps ease the stress of it.
5:00 — Dinnertime
5:45 — Bath, brush teeth for Quincy (I don’t really do a bedtime book with Quincy because I read to him like 100 books a day…)
6:00 — Quincy’s bedtime
6:30 — Potty, bath, brush teeth for Calvin
6:45 — Read a book with Calvin
7:00 — Cuddle and bed for Calvin
7:30 — Charlie does his own bathroom routine, then we read together
8:00 — ALL OF MY KIDS ARE IN BED (high fives all around)
So, here’s how I do it:
Our Bedtime Routine
The whole bedtime routine starts with dinner for us. My kids are usually ready for dinner early, so I typically have dinner on the table by 5-5:15 pm. Quincy goes to bed at 6:00, so I’m lucky that he’s a fast eater. My older two are the slowest eaters ever, so they’re usually still eating when I need to give Quincy a bath and put him to bed. I put a show on tv for them (you can see the TV in our family room from the kitchen table). Quincy also goes down super easily, so I’m really lucky.
Calvin goes to bed around 7:00, so usually I let he and Charlie finish their show after I get Quincy to bed. Then it is potty, bath, brush teeth, read a book, and bed for Calvin. Charlie is usually allowed one more show while I am putting Calvin down — or if he has homework and doesn’t need my help then he does that first and then is allowed to put a show on). Calvin is slow and high maintenance at bedtime. He insists on dressing himself (if you’ve followed me on IG you’ve probably seen him in my stories). Then he takes forever to pick a book. Then he insists on “reading” the book to me. Then I have to lay and cuddle with him for at least 10 minutes usually. It is a process! But since Quincy is already in bed and Charlie is happy to watch a show it usually works out ok.
Once I am finally done with Calvin, I help Charlie with any homework he might have left. He then does his bathroom stuff on his own (hallelujah) and I clean up the dinner mess and dishes. When he’s done with his bathroom business he meets me in my room and I read to him in my bed. We’re currently reading the Hardy Boys and he gets a chapter a night (sometimes two). He’s in bed between 7:30-8:00.
- Don’t be afraid to use screens (tv, iPad, both, whatever it takes)
- Do keep your little ones in their high chairs for maximum containment.
- Don’t bathe your kids together when you’re on your own. It is better in theory than reality.
- Do have wine.
- Don’t feel bad about skipping baths. When I only had one kid he got a bath every night. Now they get baths every other night or every 3rd night (in winter especially)
I wanted to mention that this is easier for me because I work from home — I know lots of working moms who don’t get off of work until 5:00 or later, then still have to pick up kids from school or daycare, figure out dinner, etc. So our schedule probably starts earlier than is possible for many, but it is what works for our family.
How do you handle bedtime with your kiddos when you’re on your own? Any tips or tricks to add? What does your family nighttime routine look like?