The Bedtime Routine That Finally Worked For Me! (And Saved My Sanity)

After trying, trying, and trying AGAIN, I have finally found a bedtime routine that actually works!We all know parenting is hard. We read it in every form of print; watch it in every form of media. We live it. Every. Single. Day. But, admittedly, there is one particular time of day that has been especially challenging for me as a momma – finding a bedtime routine.

However- finally, finally, FINALLY, FINALLY, I have found a bedtime routine that has saved my sanity. And it is not even all that difficult! Can you sense my excitement? But let’s start at the beginning.


I Am Not An Expert

“How? How do you get them asleep?” My friend was pleading, her new-mother, sleep-deprived, desperate voice coming loud and clear through the phone.  It was after midnight and I was her final lifeline. Only, I  was the worst choice for a savior of sleep.

“Mine don’t sleep,” I meekly replied as my youngest girl peered silently around the corner at me. “You know they don’t!” I protested before yelling to my daughter to, once again, go to bed.

I was not exaggerating. My youngest girl is notorious for fighting sleep. We have tried everything. I have read books, listened to podcasts, begged, borrowed and stole every method I could possibly get my hands on. Yet, every night she was silently clawing her way back into my bed. And eventually, I stopped trying to fight it.

Even if I was a failure at establishing a bedtime routine, at least if she was sleeping in my bed- she was ASLEEP!

Bedtime routine not working? Read this to find out what finally worked for me!
Even after 5 kids, I couldn’t help my friend get her baby to sleep.
The Final Straw

It was a Monday morning, sunny and warm as most of our mornings are here in the South. I should have felt refreshed and rested after the weekend. Only, when my alarm went off, I had not even had four hours of sleep- less than two of which were consecutive. I was starting my week off even more exhausted than I had finished the previous week.

To compound matters- it was a big week. Unnegotiable meetings at work; multiple (necessary) doctor’s appointments for more than one family member; and family obligations that I could not wiggle out of.

And then…..right before I walked out the door, our middle daughter began vomiting. E-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. I couldn’t take it anymore and knew that needed to do something, and quick! There was no way that I could continue going on as a mommy zombie.

Don't be a mommy zombie! Check out the sleep routine that actually worked for me!
Being a mommy zombie doesn’t help during a busy week at all!
The Bedtime Routines That Were Not Working

After trying several methods, I decided to take a backwards approach. I started thinking about what was NOT working. Bath time immediately before bedtime? Not effective. Walking after dinner? Negative. Letting them choose a bedtime story? Ummmm….no.

But these things all had more than being a waste of time in common. These strategies were stimulating my child, instead of winding her down. Since she was one of five kids, this also meant my other children were galvanized. We all know that kids feed off of each other, and in large families that can lead to a very, very long night.

So, since I was not being effective in the “expert” ways of establishing a bedtime routine, I committed to making a list of opposites. I was going against the grain; going rogue.

Instead of finding your child playing after bedtime, read about the bedtime that worked for me!
Instead of being sleepy after our bedtime routine, they were wanting to play!
The Bedtime Routine That Saved My Sanity

That entire week I shook up our evening routines. We got home and completed homework and resumed normal play for the littlest kids. We finished whatever chores we had. But, before dinner was finished, we went for a walk instead of waiting until after we had eaten.

We are fortunate to live in a relatively slower neighborhood in the outskirts of town. We have empty fields full of wildlife, and virtually no traffic. The kids run up and down the block, socializing with whoever else is outside or chasing birds and bunnies, while I walk behind. They get plenty of exercise and have a blast while doing it.

After terrorizing the neighborhood, we went straight into our bath time rituals. They could smell dinner and were getting hungry which made bath time actually go more smoothly than the nights that we waited until right before bed. I didn’t have to beg or threaten to get anyone out of the tub!

Then came dinner. By now it was later than they were used to eating, but there was still plenty of time left until bedtime. (There are a ton of reasons that children shouldn’t eat right before going to sleep, but we have a child that has night terrors so we definitely try to avoid it.) Comfy in their pajamas, the kiddos ate and then scampered off to play quietly or watch TV (I know, shame on us!) until 30 minutes before bedtime.

Then came story time. Now notice, I did not say reading time. I will reiterate that I am a huge advocate of reading to your children. I still read books that interest even my older kids (such as The Lion, The Witch, and Wardrobe) so that they can hear how I use inflection, etc. However, now I am reading to them during homework time. When it is time to go to bed, I am telling a story. I am using my kiddos as the main characters and allow for suggestions. But while I am telling the story, we have already turned down the lights. It is dark and calm, with less stimulation. I tell them to close their eyes and imagine the story instead of them fighting to investigate the pictures in a book.

Pretty clever way to get their eyes closed right?

Then it is kisses and hugs, more kisses and hugs, and then time to go to sleep. And it has happened!!!! They have been going to sleep….and staying asleep!

Want to have a bedtime routine that finally works? Check out what worked for me!
They have actually been going to sleep!! And staying asleep!!
 How To Make A Bedtime Routine Work For You

Here is your action plan.

  • Jot down what your evening typically looks like. Do you have routines? Does your family eat at the same time every night, or are meals planned around extra curricular activities, errands, etc.? Do you have a set bedtime? Busy families have a lot going on, but there are ways that you can try to come up with a routine. Studies show that kids do better with a routine. If you need help coming up with one, email me or leave a comment below. We can figure this out!
  • Evaluate what you have tried that didn’t work. Have you tried reading books? This works for many families. I just found that it wasn’t working for me. Have you tried bath time right before bed? Again, many people swear by soothing lavender baths before bed. Just not a solution for my family.
  • Determine what you can change. Can you try establishing a new routine? Maybe try telling stories instead of reading a book. Not creative? Google short stories and retell them using your kids as the main characters. Or, even easier, retell one of their favorite shows or movies using your kids as the main characters. I usually have my stories last about 5 minutes and then leave with a cliffhanger.
  • Don’t give up! IF at first you don’t succeed, try again! But give it a few days to a week before switching things up. It is only tried it for one night and said forget it.

Do you have a bedtime routine that works for you? Let us know in the comments. You never know who you might help!

You might enjoy- Meal Planning For Busy Moms.

Meal planning can definitely help save time while you are trying to establish new routines.



11 Ways To Save Money On School Supplies

11 Ways To Save Money On School Supplies
11 Ways To Save Money On School Supplies

Even if saving money on school supplies captures your interest, right now you are probably wondering why in the world I am mentioning school supplies in the middle of June. Fair enough, but hear me out. There really is a method to my madness- most of the time.

As with most things, saving money on school supplies takes planning. I really, really do wish that the only requirement for saving money while shopping for my large family was to wake up and want to keep money in my bank account. But, alas, big savings does require some time so there is no time like the present to start! Here are 11 ways to start saving now.

Back to school lists
Get the back to school supply lists as soon as possible.
  1. Get your school supply lists as early as possible. This gives you more time to find supplies throughout the summer. For example, one of my local office stores is closing. They are having closeout deals and I have been stalking the clearance shelves for items on my list. If I didn’t know what I was looking for ahead of time I would waste money (see #8). I mean, come on, CLEARANCE during a CLOSEOUT! Is there any other way to spell win-win? But, since I know what I am looking for, I have only purchased things I know I will need.
  2. Check your closets. You may actually already have some of the supplies but completely forgotten! Even before I had multiple school supply lists, I was collecting school supplies because a) I loooove school and office supplies and b) I have issues with passing up great deals. If I find a pair of scissors for 10 cents I am buying a dollar’s worth. (FYI- stores usually have a limit on how many items you can buy at rock bottom prices so make sure you know your limits before you go too crazy. I may or may not be speaking from experience.) Also, don’t discredit your child’s school supplies from previous years. I  took a baby wipe to my daughter’s scissors from last year and she still was excited to go to school with scissors that were her favorite color. She had no idea they were from the previous year. We also only had to replace a few of the uniform shirts which was a nice way to save money.
  3. Find out if your school sells school supply kits. This, of course, varies from school to school (or even grade to grade) but can be an awesome deal if it is available. For one of my daughters I already purchased her kit. I probably could have purchased the items in the kit for a couple of dollars less but the convenience was worth it for me (see #11). Also, I know that she will have all of the same supplies as the rest of the kids in her class so that will hopefully help ease the transition into kindergarten. My oldest daughter had a kit available but the price was way out of my comfort zone. My oldest son didn’t even have one offered so we already knew we were going to be out with the crowds shopping anyway.

    Beware of dollar store deals.
    Beware of dollar store deals.
  4. Beware of dollar stores. As a mom, I love dollar deals. In fact, they can convince me I need something I don’t. Then, the next thing I know  I am sheepishly smiling at the cashier as she rings up $20 worth of merchandise I probably (absolutely) could have passed on. This actually is not the only pitfall of those lovely, enticing dollar stores. During the back-to-school sales, the prices at the dollar stores often get beat. That’s right, their “deals” are no longer deals. That dollar composition notebook is most likely at least half of that dollar in a different store. Same rule applies to pencils, pens, even notebooks and binders. Basically rule of thumb is check the price of the competitors before you decide where you are going to shop. This leads us into…
  5. Do not stay loyal to one store. Most big box stores are trying to compete to get your business. Let them work for your money, especially if the stores are in close vacinity of each other. We have a Target and a Walmart that are literally within walking distance to each other so I do not feel like it is too time consuming to go to both. If the stores are too far apart from each other, however, it may cause more in gas than it is worth.
  6. Check to see if your state has a tax free time to shop. Some states actually remove the sales tax from supplies that are used for school. Dates and rules vary so make sure that you understand them before you start shopping. While taxes may not seem like a lot, it can really add up!

    Try searching online for school supplies.
    Try searching on the Internet to save money on school supplies.
  7. Try unconventional places to find what you need. Think of places like Craigslist or Facebook groups. (Please just be careful and think smart before meeting anyone you do not know.) I belong to a local supportive moms group on Facebook  (see my post here about why) and saw several moms swapping supplies throughout the year. I also see teachers that are getting rid of extra supplies when doing their end of the school year cleanups.
  8. Do not buy unnecessary things. As a lover of school supplies, it is sooooo difficult for me not to stray from our supply list. Surely we can find a use for that 4pack of pretty paperclips that cost quadruple the price of 60 paperclips. And has anyone else noticed that Lisa Frank stuff is back? I don’t know if it ever really “left” but I definitely remember turning on the waterworks while begging my parents to buy me each of her folders. Now the only thing that is standing in my way is this pesky budget.
  9. Think about what you might need for next year. I know, I know, this sounds like the complete opposite of what I just said. But there actually is a difference. You may not know exactly what you will need next year, but you can scoop up probable items while they are on sale for a dime. If you are going to have a child in elementary school, most likely glue will be on the list next year.  Items such as those can be great buys. You can even look on the supply list for the grade above your child to get hints.
  10. Sell and replace. One year I bought a cute backpack for my daughter on clearance and saved it for the next year. I proudly placed it in a safe place and patted myself on the back for such a great deal. Somehow over the next year she grew to despise pink. Since the backpack still had the tags on it, and was being sold for four times as much as I paid for it, I listed it online and sold it for twice as much as what I paid for it. I combined that cash with Amazon credits from my Ibotta and ordered her the “best backpack ever” from Amazon. I didn’t even have to leave the house to win Mom of the Year. This also applies to any extra expenditures that maybe you couldn’t help (too much Lisa Frank perhaps).
  11. I know this is a money saving post, but let’s just include our sanity and time as well. If it is easier for you to buy a kit from your child’s school, or make one stop at a pricier store, determine if this convenience is worth your money. Time is money too, and sometimes it may be worth that larger price tag in the long run.

    Saving money on school supplies .
    Remember time is money.

I’m sure there are more ways to save money on school supplies than just listed here. What are some of your tricks?