REAL LIFE: A very long bedtime routine (with lots of stories)

Sometimes I wonder whether bedtime routines look anything like ours for other families. I thought I’d share our routine as part of Picklebum’s Real Life Wednesday Series.


My clever little daughter has gradually extended her bed time over the years. Yes, Cam has me all worked out; She doesn’t bother telling me that she’s thirsty or hungry because she knows that won’t work on me, but she does know that I won’t be able to refuse a story-related request.

Just take a look at how our bedtime routine has slowly changed over time?

It started like this:

Two books

Cuddle and Kiss

Lights Out and Sleep time

★★★★★

Then one night as my husband was leaving the room, Cam begged him not to go. He suggested telling her a story. She quite liked the sound of that. So an oral story was added to our bedtime routine.

★★★★★

It didn’t take long for Cam to start asking for two oral stories.

★★★★★

Then we discovered Samuel’s Kisses, a gorgeous book by Karen Collum and Serena Geddes, and Cam no longer wanted a normal kiss. She wanted a Samuel’s Kiss. We’d blow her a kiss that flowed behind curtains, through books and over soft toys before landing on her cheek.

★★★★★

Then Cam decided that her sleepy-time bunny needed a Samuel’s Kiss too. Two Samual’s Kisses had become part of our bedtime routine.

★★★★★

The Samuel’s Kisses kept Cam satisfied for quite some time, until she decided that they needed to be linked to the story that we’d just told (e.g. over the fairy godmother’s wand, down the stairs and over Cinderella’s glass slipper)

★★★★★

Eventually, Cam began begging for a third story. That just required too much of my imagination, and I didn’t think I had enough creative tales to share with her. We compromised on me singing a song instead, which was now part of our bedtime routine.

★★★★★

This soon became two songs. I quite enjoyed singing well-known songs and lullabies to her, but then Cam started  requesting  I make up my own songs about a topic chosen by her.

★★★★★

One day I foolishly decided to modify the bedtime story, by adding a little relaxation and massage into it. Cam loved it but she insisted that I still tell the two stories on top of the relaxation massage.

★★★★★

So after three years, this is now how our bedtime routine looks:

Two books

Two oral stories

Relaxation and Massage

Two songs

A Cuddle and Two Samuel’s Kisses- weaved into a story

Lights out and Sleep time

★★★★★

Thankfully, once the routine is over Cam snuggles up and drifts off to sleep. We rarely hear from her again until the sun comes up.

Sometimes I just have to laugh at how ridiculously long and drawn out our bedtime routine is.  Mostly it’s just incredibly difficult to be this creative two times a day.

But I also know we are lucky. I know that these are the moments I must treasure. I know that in 20 years, I’ll be wishing I had a little girl who wants me to read books, tell stories, sing songs and blow Samuel’s Kisses.

Do you have a bedtime routine? How does it look? Do your kids know how to string it out?


Real Life Wednesdays


REAL LIFE: A very long bedtime routine (with lots of stories)

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  1. Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry, but this really made me laugh! But only because it is so much like our house!
    One of my girls in particular was a shocker, and by the end of things our routine was ridiculous – plus I fell for the hungry and thirsty thing, so it also incorporated a slice of bread and a glass of water along the way.
    I used to sing my girls a lullaby and over time M learned them all and wanted them ALL sung to her, so our routine ended up being:

    story
    kiss and cuddle
    slice of bread
    glass of water
    toilet
    5 lullabies
    kiss and cuddle
    blow kiss from the door
    catch return kiss blown from child to door
    dim light
    come back 5 mins later to dim light more and blow another kiss
    lights out when asleep

    In the end we did a sticker reward chart to cut it down, but it still creeps out again on occasion and she’s nearly 7!

    Visiting via Picklebums linky.
    Thanks for the giggle and the memories!

    • Glad I was able to bring a giggle to your day.
      I don’t mind at all. I’m actually feeling glad that other parents get ‘sucked’ in to the power of their children.

  2. Bahahahaha.. I came over from Picklebums too
    We used to have an elongated bedtime routine for our almost 3 year old, but after I received incredulous/horrified looks from the paediatrician and maternal health nurse; we’ve managed to reel it back… a lot!
    It was:
    Daddy
    2 books (one out of bed, one in bed)
    4 songs (always the same 4 songs)
    Mummy
    5 songs (the same ones again with a bonus one)
    A drink
    Kisses
    But if Daddy managed to get away without singing…
    “Daddy’s a naughty Daddy, he didn’t sing me a song”!!!
    Now it is just 1x book, 2x songs from Daddy and then 2x songs from Mummy (and kisses of course). Although the last 2 nights she has wanted an extra song again…. uh oh!!!

    • Oh, maybe I better not let the health nurse know about it then. I love the ‘naughty daddy’ comment. he he!

  3. I get so emotional thinking of when going to bed will be a thing they do on their own… :( thanks for reminding me to relish in the moments we have now…. even if they’re drawn out moments! :)

  4. Treasure it, treasure it! Once upon a time we had a bedtime routine similar to that… a book or two, a made up story, a song, dragon magic, cuddles & kisses, more cuddles & kisses from Daddy, and then sleep.

    Then he took over the direction of story and it got too hard to keep up with all the characters and there were too many battle scenes… gone is the made up story. Then he insisted that I change ALL the words of the song, on the spot… gone is the song. Then he discovered chapter books and they became too long to squeeze in 2-3 chapters (we can never seem to get away with less than this) between dinner and daddy time before bedtime… gone is the book – unless IT’S the daddy time. We still have dragon magic, but that is gradually losing its magic too. Soon we’ll only be left with a cuddle and kiss :(

    I took most of these away to try to put a stop to increasingly annoying habits, but in the end, I’m the one who misses them the most. Enjoy while they last!!!

    • Oooh! I love the idea of dragon magic. I’m not going to mention it to Cam though. She’ll have to think of that herself if she wants it to be part of the routine.

      Thanks for the reminder to enjoy it while it lasts.

  5. I LOVE your bedtime routine!

    I really think that if you put in the time at bed time and help your kids relax and get ready to sleep, they really do sleep better, so you reap the rewards later.

    My big girls just want a kiss and a cuddle and they are done… but the middle and small want me to ‘be there’ while they fall asleep. Which may sound terrible to some, but for me it means lying in bed holding a small hand, listening to whatever story we have on the ipod (at the moment it;s the Jungle Book which is really good!) and playing and playing on my phone… and … relaxing! I think it is as good for me as it is for them! :)

    • I would struggle with that. I suffer from ‘hurry sickness’. I have trouble doing ‘nothing’; I fidget and twitch and think about everything that must be done. But like you said, it can sometimes be the only time you have to relax and the only time you look after yourself- which can only be a wonderful thing. Maybe when I have more than one child, I’ll be wanting to rest beside my child as they fall asleep.

  6. So cute! Yes, enjoy it while you can, sooner than you think all your evenings will be filled with helping out with homework! That has become our bedtime routine! Spelling words, math worksheets, reading phonics books, and considering my son has Down syndrome it’s no small feat!

    • I secretly can’t wait for homework. Although worksheets and phonics books don’t sound overly interesting. Thanks for the reminder though. Will treasure these moments.

  7. Oh my I wish my girls would stay asleep once asleep.

    Their routine involves an hour of alone time in their bedrooms, generally with books and iPad, then a story, cuddles, prayers and sleep.

    • I would love to know what prayers you and your daughters say. I’ve only just introduced them to Cam, and she is fascinated by them. I find her praying all through the day.

  8. Jackie, this is just so precious! Thank you for sharing. As an author it’s such a privilege when people take our books to heart and hearing how much your baby girl loves SAMUEL’S KISSES brought tears to my eyes.

    Your bedtime routine is AMAZING and Cam is one lucky little girl. I do bedtime on my own 99/100 nights because of hubby’s work and with 4 little kids I just don’t have time to be as creative as you! Our routine involves a bath, followed by a ‘last play’, followed by a book for each of the four kids and then everyone into bed for bedtime prayers. We just make up our prayers and say thank you for the lovely things that have happened today and pray about anything that is worrying any of the kids. Then they listen to a music CD or audio book…at which point I collapse in a heap myself! Thanks so much for sharing. x

    • Oh Karen, I don’t know how I would survive if I didn’t alternate bedtime with my husband. My hat goes off to you.

  9. There are so many things that I sometimes wish we didn’t have to do when it comes to our daughter Mia, but at the same time I am so aware that in the grand scheme of things I won’t be doing them for that long and I will miss them when they are gone. Mia is only 10 months so our bedtime routine is pretty basic, two or three stories, teeth brushing, breastfeed, bed. Lately there has been a lot of sooking between the breastfeed and the bed, she used to just fall asleep while feeding but she has stopped doing that lately and sooks now instead which makes it hard. I think it’s time to change up the routine and I think the breastfeed is going to move to before the stories as she is always very calm after having her teeth brushed so hoping this will help with the sooking. Thanks for sharing.

    • I forgot to add that I love that pic of your daughter sleeping with her arms up, it’s so unbelievably cute!

    • We always need to be so flexible with our routines don’t we as our kids grow and develop? It sounds like you’ve made a great start to Mia’s reading journey.

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REAL LIFE: A very long bedtime routine (with lots of stories)

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