skip to Main Content
Bedtime With Multiple Children

Bedtime With Multiple Children

Bedtime is the most important part of your child’s day. It’s a time for final connection and serves as the key transitional activity to move from the busyness of the day to the calmness of the night.

When you only had one little to put to bed in the evening, things were pretty straightforward. One kid to bathe, one set of teeth to brush, one kid to wrangle into pajamas, one kid to tuck into bed for the night. But now that you have added to your family, bedtime seems a little less manageable.

It doesn’t need to be! I always coach parents to have very structured bedtime routines, even with just one child in the family. This becomes even more important as you add more little ones to your family. Without structure there will just be chaos and that’s not what anyone needs at the end of the day.

Each family will have slightly different needs when it comes to bedtime with multiple children depending on your children’s ages. Read through to learn some simple but effective strategies for putting multiple children to bed in the evenings.

Does it Make Sense to Divide and Conquer?

The answer is going to depend on your family’s lifestyle and your own preference. Consider these things before making your decision.

Is your family schedule consistent?

Consistency is the key for anything related to children so if both parents are not home for bedtime the majority of the time, then I would recommend having one parent do bedtime routines with all children each night.

This doesn’t mean that the same parent must do bedtime each and every night – that wouldn’t be very fair! I actually encourage you to switch up which parent does bedtime, when you can, so that your children don’t associate bedtime with a particular parent (this also makes it easier to have babysitters – hello date night!).

But wait?!? Didn’t I just tell you that consistency is the most important part? Well yes, I did. But the magic lies in the routine being in the same place, at the time, and in the same order – not the person who is putting them to bed. If your little is currently preferring one parent over the other (it’s soooo common), I recommend starting to switch up who does bedtime. Maybe it’s your spouse but it could also be a grandparent.

Division of Duty

Let’s be real! Bedtime is a significant event in the evening but it’s not the ONLY thing that needs to get done. Dishes, packing lunches, folding laundry, and the list goes on.

Think about whether you want to split up the tasks between you and your spouse and come together at the end to enjoy your evening together or do bedtimes together then work on the other evening tasks together as well.

As I said, it’s your personal preference. Personally, I would choose to divide and conquer. I think it is more efficient to both be working on separate tasks then come together when it’s all don’t to enjoy a glass of wine and watch Netflix.  

How to Handle the Same Bed Time

Refer to this chart below with my recommended bedtimes by age:

AgeIdeal BedtimeHours of Night Sleep
0-3 Months8-9pm10-12 hours
4 Months – 2 Years6:30-8pm10-12 hours
3-7 Years7-8pm10-12 hours
8-10 Years8-9:30 pm9-11 hours

There is quite a range in bed times because your child’s bedtime will also depend on what time they wake in the morning and their sleep needs. As best you can, try to keep your kids on the same bedtime for as long as possible. It will be so much easier for you!

Pro Tip: A late bedtime does not cause a later wake up, so an earlier bedtime is always the safer choice!

How to Handle the Same Bed Time

You’ll want to do the majority of the bedtime routine together. Baths together (when possible/appropriate), brush each child’s teeth in the same order, and put pajamas on in the same room (when possible/appropriate) and again in the same order each night.

Choose a dedicated bedtime area. I would recommend choosing the youngest child’s bedroom. Keep it consistent and always start the bedtime in the same room. Have each child choose a book if they are old enough to and read them all together.

The last step of the routine needs to take place in each child’s own room. Once the books are read, send the older child(ren) to their own rooms as you put the youngest to bed. When doing the last step I like to do it in order of youngest to oldest because younger babies and children are more sensitive to timing of sleep and could become overtired if they are waiting too long to tuck older ones in bed. Also, the younger the child, the more difficult it is for them to sit alone and wait for their turn to be tucked in. Let’s be realistic here!

The last step for each child is something quick and simple. Turn out the lights, say a prayer, and sing a lullaby. Or for toddlers and preschoolers I love introducing a quiet chat where you ask what their favourite part of the day was.

If children share a room, you will be able to go the entire routine together!

How to Handle Different Bed Times

Before you jump into this, refer to the table above to determine if your children truly NEED different bedtimes or if they really should be on the same bedtime.

If you are the only parent that is home for bedtime then you will need to have something independent the other child(ren) to do while you are doing the first bedtime. Puzzles, colouring, yoga, and all great ideas. This is not a time for screens as screens impact your child’s ability to fall asleep. Work on practicing quiet time during the day if your child struggles with playing independently.

You can make things easier on everyone by doing as much of bedtime as you can together. Baths and pajamas can be done at the same time. Once that step is done then you will be able to do the first bedtime while the other children do their quiet activities.

If you have a newborn, bring them into the room with you and place them in a bouncer if possible while you do the routine with the older sibling(s).

And if you are lucky enough to have your spouse home during the evening hours most of the time, you will be able to do the first bedtime while your spouse tends to the other child(ren), or vise-versa.

Doing Bedtime Solo? Encourage Independence

When you are doing bedtime alone most nights of the week it’s okay to expect your children to do things for themselves and for their siblings. Obviously this gets easier as your children get older but it’s still a great habit to instil early on. It will take practice and consistency (as does anything) for this to become second nature – but it will!

Here are a few things you can ask your older children to help with:

  • Putting their own pajamas on
  • Brushing a sibling’s hair
  • Helping a younger sibling get their pajamas on
  • Bringing you pajamas, diaper, etc. for younger siblings

Did you notice that teeth brushing wasn’t on that list? I do not trust young children to brush their teeth well so I would keep that as a parental task!

All these tips work well for children who are great sleepers. If you are currently struggling to get your littles to fall asleep independently or have littles who are masters of bedtime battles and it’s making bedtime with multiple children an absolute nightmare, then that is your next step!

It will make a world of difference for your family if your kids could easily and happily go to sleep on their own after you tuck them it.

Need some help establishing independent sleep skills and making bedtime a happy part of the day?

I’d be happy to chat with you about whether my services are a good fit for your family. Book your free discovery call here.

Back To Top