Easier Bedtimes: How to Get Your Kids to Stay Put After Lights Out

Sleeping Girl

Bedtime, the thing we as parents look forward to each night, but can often be a battle with our kids. After being at a loss of what to do with our boys having good days and bad days with going to bed, I began some trial and error ideas to see what worked to keep my kids in bed. Here are some tips for easier bedtimes.

The delay in bedtime has been huge in our house over the past few months—I’m sure you mamas know exactly what I’m talking about. I noticed they wanted to come out for water, use the potty for the 20th time, etc. …but enough was enough. Mama just wanted to relax and have a little me time. 

Before I get into the easier bedtime tips, there’s one thing you should analyze first…naps. Is your child napping? How old is your child and when should they drop their naps? I began to notice this with my three-year-old recently. He just turned three a few months ago and literally a month later, if he had a nap, he had a hard time falling asleep in the evening. He’d be up until 9-9:30pm. So, just be aware that most children stop napping at 3-5 years of age. If your child is over five and still napping during the day, try to keep the nap to no longer than 20 minutes and no later than early afternoon. Longer and later naps can make it harder for children to get to sleep at night. Now, let’s get to the good stuff. 

Easier Bedtimes:

5 Tips to Get Kids to Stay Put After Lights Out

mom and child

  • Create a pass: During these quarantine days, I created two passes for each child and had them decorate them. These passes were created to keep them in their beds. If they absolutely needed to come out of their rooms for a hug, a kiss, ask a question, use the potty, get a drink of water, and so on, they had two free passes to use. After they used up their passes, if they continued to come out of their rooms, I will take something away, explain that each time they come out, they go to bed the next night five minutes earlier, 10 minutes earlier, etc.
  • Sticker Chart: You can create a sticker chart for the week. On the left column, write down “Bed without screaming”, “Bed without coming out of the room”, “Staying in bed until the clock turns green,” and anything else you need your child to do. On the top columns, add the days of the week. Then add a sticker each time your child sticks to the chart. Once they reach five nights or five stickers, they get to pick out a prize from a bin, or use any incentive that works for your child, whether it’s watching a TV show, getting coins for a piggy bank, etc.
  • Piggy Bank Trick: There are times when my oldest just wants coins. So, whenever he is fighting us on going to sleep, we do the piggy bank trick. I lay out three coins by the bedroom door. Each time he gets out of bed, I take a coin away. If he has any coins left in the morning, he gets to keep them and put them in his piggy bank. Simple, and it works for him.
  • Monster Spray: I have a small amber glass jar that is mixed with 15 drops of lavender oil and fractionated coconut oil. It used to be something that I would spray on their pillow and bedsheets before we read a book each night, but now that my three-year-old is starting to get scared, it’s now his “monster spray.” Before we read our book and get ready for bed, we go around the room and spray the closet, bathroom, toy chests, under the bed, etc…This spray has magic powers to keep any monsters away. Plus, you get the added bonus of helping them relax because the spray contains lavender essential oils to help your child wind down, relax, and get sleepy. 
  • Journaling: If your child is a bit older and knows how to write, anytime they have a million and one questions they want to ask you after you put them to bed, leave a small journal and pencil and ask them to write down their questions. In the morning, you can answer any of the questions that came up for them.

Being a mama isn’t easy. One week, bedtime is easy, and the next, it’s a constant battle. As parents, we’re all just learning as we go. But at least these tips will hopefully work for your little ones as they did with mine.

Natalie is a California girl living in a Texas world who's developed quite eclectic personal tastes. Her lifelong interest in health and wellness meets its equal in her Texas-sized love for fashion, beauty, and travel. Her passion for clean eating began in 2011 when her husband was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and she began her research into the ways in which the food we eat and the products we use affect our overall health. She's the author of Precious Time, a health and lifestyle blog to help others on their journey to clean living and to share her own personal best practices.