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Create an Evening Ritual

Your family probably has a bedtime routine, right? After dinner is bath time, then pjs and brushing teeth, then a story or two before bed. But if you’re struggling to create an evening that feels joyful and pleasant, why not try my formula for creating an evening ritual by answering these questions:

  • Who is involved? Does this ritual involve your entire family or is it something special for an older child who has a younger sibling that requires a lot of attention during the day? Especially if a child tends to resist bedtime, having a special ritual will make it more “exciting” to go to bed.

  • What time of day will it be/ how long do I want it to last? Do you want it to start before dinner and go through bedtime, or will it just be for when kids are in their beds?

  • Where will it be? Is this something special that only happens when the kids sleep at Grandma’s or is it a no-matter-where type of thing? Does it happen in the grown-ups bedroom?

  • What activity will we do? Resist the urge to complicate this. I was babysitting for a little girl who was consistently struggling with bedtimes. I suggested we do “something special” that only she gets to do at bedtime, without actually thinking in advance what that might be. Since then, I have shown her pictures on my phone of my dog, started reading a few chapters from a Magic Treehouse book, and cuddled with her while telling her all my favorite things about her. And we haven’t had any more problems at bedtime! Each time, she climbs in bed and asks, “What’s the special thing today?”

  • Will there be food? If this is a pre-toothbrushing moment, maybe there’s a special treat your kids will relish?

  • Will there be music? Music is a fun and subtle way to transition the mood. Do you want to start instituting “calm down music” as they start getting ready for bed? Soon enough, they will start to respond to the music, knowing exactly what needs to get done.

  • Do I need anything else? You can get as grand or simple as you want with this ritual, but having a general idea sketched out in your mind ahead of time can help. But hold loosely – as you know, often the best and most magical moments are the surprises!

Do you have an evening ritual for your family or is it chaos in your house at bedtime? Do you think an evening ritual would help you and your children feel calmer at the end of the day? Share your suggestions with us!

Originally featured on 4/3/2022

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