A Real Mom's Guide to Putting Your Kids to Bed -- in Only 34 Simple Steps

putting kids to bed
Design by Anne Meadows

If you've ever been in charge of two or more children at the same time, then you understand how wrangling three kids under 10 into bed at a somewhat acceptable time every night exhausts me to no end (apologies to my husband -- sorry that your wife will be in a comatose state after 8 p.m. every night from now until forever). I admittedly bathe my kids every night (it calms them down -- I think?), and I'm a strict, schedule-abiding early-bedtime mom. Perhaps I make it harder on myself by sticking to such a tough routine, but -- my routine aside -- I imagine putting kids to bed sucks for all parents. That's why I've come up with an "easy" step-by-step guide that I think most parents can relate to.


After all, when you're struggling to get your kids to stick to their bedtime routine, it helps to know that there are millions of other parents out there also giving their children the finger behind their backs. Here's how bedtime really goes down once you become a mom:

1. Look at the clock at 4 p.m. to see if it's bedtime yet. It isn't.

2. Swear, cry, or uncork the wine early so you can cope.

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3. Recheck the clock every 15 minutes and whisper to yourself, "How has it only been 15 minutes!?"

4. At 5 p.m., begin the hellish routine that is dinner and curse the day you ever said you wanted kids.

5. While you're cooking, yell at your kids approximately 243 times to "get out of the pantry."

6. Serve the meal you just cooked, then hold your breath and count to 10 over and over as your kids say they hate it.

7. Watch as your kids act like lunatics and start running around the entire house screaming with joy that dinner is over.

8. Note how the 2.3 bites of food they each consumed apparently gave them enough energy to make it sound like you've got a bounce house in your living room.

9. Listen as one of your kids reminds you she has a project due tomorrow and she has to handcraft 52 items for it -- tonight.

10. Pretend you have to go to the bathroom so you can cry a little now that you know at least one of your kids will NOT be in bed on time.

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11. Start the bath time routine.

12. Listen as each child cries, falls apart, and declares that he/she is "so hungry" or has "a scratch that really hurts" so he/she is unable to shower.

13. Wrestle tiny bodies until they're naked and crying, then get them in the bath against their will.

14. Watch in horror as your entire bathroom is destroyed by a single, mold-infested squirt toy you forgot to throw out last time you cleaned.

15. Get tiny, soaked bodies out of the tub and watch as they streak through your entire house screaming with glee.

16. Think to yourself, What the hell? Wasn't the bath supposed to calm them down?

17. Feed your kids fourth-meal, even though you vowed you'd always make them eat their dinner and never feed them snacks before bed.

18. Laugh at how naive you were before you had kids, then cry as your kitchen gets messy for the 312th time that day.

19. Read stories, snuggle, stroke faces, say I-Love-Yous, and finally close the doors to your kids' bedrooms for the first time that night, knowing you'll be back approximately 27 times.

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20. Start the school project with your least favorite child, who fell out of favor because she forgot the school project.

21. Finish the school project and finally sit down for the first time in five hours.

22. Swear under your breath when one of your kids gets out of bed for a drink of water.

23. Wait impatiently as the rogue child pees, takes four more leisurely trips to the kitchen to get drinks, and tells you that you forgot to tuck him in.

24. Try to explain calmly that you did, in fact, read stories, snuggle, sing his favorite song, tuck in his stuffed animals too, and say "I love you" 18 times already.

25. By now, all of your kids are awake.

26. Go back into each kid's room to say good night and answer their questions about random things like where babies come from, why cats don't have thumbs, and where the Paw Patrol pups sleep at night.

27. Wait until you feel safe that they're all finally asleep to start your favorite show.

28. Just as you get comfortable, sigh loudly as you hear tiny footsteps coming toward your bedroom door.

29. Somehow hear yourself saying, "Sure, honey, just climb on in bed with Mommy."

30. Watch as your child peacefully drifts off to sleep, then lie in bed while she kicks you in the ribs for the next hour and keeps you awake.

31. Repeat steps 28–30 until all of your children are in your bed.

32. Try to fall asleep while straddling the edge of the mattress, struggling not to fall off.

33. Finally start to fall asleep, approximately four hours before your youngest will wake up for the day.

34. Remind yourself that you can sleep when you're dead -- at least they are all finally in dreamland. For now!

Design by Anne Meadows

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