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Thursday, 20 March 2014

Bedtime routines around the globe – cultural or not?

Bedtime routines around the globe – cultural or not?

Quite ironically I am sitting here at 00.05 writing about bedtime routines, to be fair though I know  it is jet lag – oh god I hate jet lag! Being as that I am a routine goddess and that bedtime routine is very important to me this is driving me insane…. They are just not tired. I’m not sure if it stems from those beautiful yet tiresome newborn months where you are so tired that it hurts to open your eyes or whether it’s the fact that we have 4 kids under 6 and our ‘adult’ evening time is very precious to us and really needed. It’s that feeling I have when I know that all the kids are safe and sound asleep in their beds that makes me warm and fuzzy and also able to function as me ‘Lucy’ for just a few hours.

So the bedtime routine goes as follows… and it only really varies if we a) have been on holiday (even though even on holiday the routine is in place) b) something has over run c) somebody is sick. It starts about 5pm when all the kids sit down to dinner, this depends on after school clubs as well but generally we are good and we are eaten by 5.45pm. Then while I tidy up and prepare lunch boxes for the next day, the kids run around like mad (because they have eaten) sometimes they will sit and read or colour but usually it’s just the running. Then we’ll head upstairs and run a bath while we tidy up the bedrooms and sort out for the next day. Everyone has a bath and then we relax and read a story before bed. This has become a little more difficult with the younger 2 but still we try and read something before lights out and sleep….. Then I take the baby and my husband takes the toddler and we both feed them milk and wait for them to fall asleep, sometimes this can take for ages!

I asked this question to my MKB community and I had such a great response to it that I have decided to show the comments as they were left as they are so poignant… and thank you so much, sorry it has taken me so long to publish it!
Hi everyone.
I am writing a piece on children's bedtime routines and I wondered of you minded sharing with me yours?
I would love to hear from you
Lucy x
Cordelia Newlin de Rojas
I could say their bedtime routine is story song and bed but I'd be lying for in truth post dinner, they have a tv time either before it after shower and only then book and song and kisses.

Lucy Abdullah
Thank you cordelia ... it’s funny it’s pretty much the same in my house. Apart from we have tv while eating dinner and then attempt a bath, but they can’t all fit in so that gets messy too... then we read and lights out before putting the baby to bed. Do you think it’s important that as an adult you have an evening for yourself or are you happy to have your kids up with you? I know a few parents who let their kids come down and watch tv with them but I’m quite strict about bedtime.

Olga Mecking
I'm so baaaad, we don't really have a routine- but it's totally inconsistent with the Dutch mentality! My children go to bed when they're tired, and they're very different, too. If I put my eldest to bed too early, she'll be kicking and talking and fidgeting. If I get her at the right time, we can talk and cuddle a little and then she falls asleep. My little girls in miserable when tired so she's the first one to go to bed. My baby boy usually is the next and my big girl is the last, and when we bathe the children, they all go to sleep at the same time.

Emma Apple
I guard my quiet time with my husband jealously so my kids always have a bed time (occasionally staying up for special reasons or fun, but fairly rarely). We do story, goodnight to Baba (daddy), teeth and toilet. Then we turn the night light on and the main light off and I recite 3 short verses of the Quran, we say the sleep prayer, then lullabies and we sometimes send a quick goodnight message to their grandmother in NZ.

Lucy Abdullah
Oh my olga I have to have a bedtime routine or i think I would go crazy... love your relaxed attitude to bedtime though thank you.... and Emma I'm glad to hear someone else has the need for quiet time in the evening too. I like that you read the verses and say a sleep prayer too... thank you x

Lucy Abdullah
And can I just ask where you all live at present?

Olga Mecking
The Netherlands (I am Polish and my husband is German), and I think all three of these countries put great emphasis on bedtime routine... we just don't 

Cordelia Newlin de Rojas
I live in Thailand. And contrary to Asian customs which as far as I can tell is let kids stay up until they drop from exhaustion , we put our kids to bed early. I do cherish my personal time, now more than ever since i started homeschooling. I also find that any time my kids go to bed too late they are prone to poor behaviour the next day as they are too tired.

Lucy Abdullah
Thank you again ladies... the Country of residence was for my reference 

Annabelle Humanes
Ours is dinner, bath, story and kisses, then bed. We also love our couple's time, so she is in bed at 8pm. We allow a little bit of flexibility on Saturdays but that is it. Pretty strict I guess. We live in Germany and my hubby is from Portugal. When we visit his family, they don't understand that L has to be in bed around 8 or she gets cranky and unbearable.

Ute Limacher-Riebold
We always had a bed time routine. My children didn't sleep much during the day when they were babies and toddlers, so this routine was also necessary for me and my husband. Now it's still similar to the early years: dinner between 6 and 7pm, reading/playing (by themselves), shower etc and in bed at 8/8.30. They read about 30 mins when they are in bed and then should sleep. - We used to read them bed time stories and sing them lullabies, sometimes they still want them but they are 7,7 and 10.5 now.

Julie Ap
Add me to the list of "I need my downtime at night" parents! We do dinner around 6:30. Then it's either bath night or a little time to play outside or color/play indoors 'til 7:30-sih when we do the teeth/toilet routine. Then snuggle in bed and read a chapter or 2 of whatever we're reading at the time, and finally a prayer and some kisses, then lights out at 8pm. Fri & Sat gets closer to 9pm, as we usually do a movie night or game night, but strictly 8pm on school nights. (I'm American, husband is Filipino. He started out a little more lax on the bedtime, as is his culture, but values our downtime, too, so has gotten more into the routine over the years.)

Lucy Abdullah
I love these.... thank you so so much.... really excited to right the article now.... I will post when done.... I may use reference to some of your answers I hope that's ok!!? 

Lucy Abdullah
*WRITE lol x

Emma Apple
We live in the US and I'm from NZ and my husband is from Yemen I’m fine with you referencing my answers.

CoreyAnn Khan
I'm from the US & Hubby is from Pakistan. We just got back to the US from living in Malaysia & Indonesia and I guess I'm the odd parent out. We ascribe to the Asian, let the child decide when to sleep/wake. In Malayisa my 5yo would go to sleep at midnight and wake at 9:30. Since arriving in the US 2 weeks ago, she now goes to sleep at 9:30 and wakes at 8. We tried a routine when she was a small baby but Hubby & I couldn't hack it since it would make her wake too early for us. I can't deal with waking up before 8 am. We're all just night owls I guess. (My Tamil Malaysian neighbour is convinced that one's birth time - like my wee one coming into the world at 11pm - dictates what kind of a sleeper we are and hence why DD is a night owl).

Stephanie H Meade
We (me American, husband Moroccan) are pretty strict about 8 pm bedtime during the week when they have school. On the weekends when we are with friends, they can stay up until whatever time. We do bathroom stuff (bath or just washing up when we are pressed for time- is that gross I just admitted to not bathing them everyday?, hair brushing, teeth), then a book in their beds. Then it's lights out at 8, after which we each say the things we are grateful for in the day (my husband I believe says a prayer with them in Arabic when he puts them to bed), then they demand I tell them my own made-up story, so I comply- some days I love this and some days I am too exhausted to think of anything creative. Then one of us stays with them until they fall asleep (I secretly don't mind this as I don't get to see them all day so it's extra time together, but I do find it kind of annoying when we have friends over and they won't go to sleep without one of us in their rooms).

Jonathan Ervine
Bedtime? Routine? Five months in, my wife and I are still working on it 

Annabelle Humanes
Jonathan Ervine ah... I remember... You have plenty of time!

Varya Sanina-Garmroud
With out first one we had no routine. We bathed her whenever she was in the mood and she was on breastfeeding on demand and slept whenever. I couldn't even say "she went down for the night" because that's how often she woke up during the night. And that is for 2 years until she was weaned and started sleeping through the night. We tried making a routine for her, but nothing worked. She fell into the routine on her own shortly after being weaned.
With our second one, who is now 15 month, everything just fell in places, probably because there was an older child and she is also very different by character. She is also breastfed and still going strong. Together with big sister we all say prayers, brush teeth, change clothes, tell or read a story and go to bed. Showers are left for the time when big sissy comes from school.
Also, I gave baby massage to both girls, and still do at times when they are very restless and reluctant to go to sleep.

Giselle Shardlow
Ohhhhh i LOVE this topic. I'm extremely passionate about building good sleep habits. I can elaborate more ... But essentially we follow the 4 B's (passed on from my mum) = bath, brush, books, bed. A nightly ritual. I even just wrote a bedtime yoga book w a parent guide at back cause its a topic near and dear to my heart ... 

Cordelia Newlin de Rojas
Stephanie H Meade lol I only remember having a bath once. Week as a kid - Sundays which were wash hair day and I used to dread it. Living in Asia with heat and sweat and mozzie spray you just can't get away with not showering them though I've been guilty of skipping it if they went for an afternoon swim at one of the saltwater pools.

Emma Apple
We don't bathe the kids daily, I never have.

Lina Dickson
With my oldest child (5-year-old), first is the bath, then story time, then chat time between dad/mom and child with light off, and then go to sleep.

For the twins, the routine is first the bath, then playtime for a while, then milktime and going to bed

Crianza Bicultural
I am Bolivian night owl and my husband an American early bird. During the day I dedicate all my time to kids, school, home and at night We need our kids in bed by 8:30 max. I have 2 good sleepers and 2 owls that does not allow the other 2 to go to sleep. So I let them read in bed for 1/2 to 1 hour. Then I have more early night time to share with husband, business and some blogging. Baths we do it during the day and before going to bed brush, books and bed, prayers are important before saying good night.

Lucy Abdullah
We also stay with the babies until they fall asleep! At most I love this time, but when you have plans it can be relentless! And they always seem to know when you have something to do....... !

Amanda Ponzio Mouttaki
We (me American, husband Moroccan) are pretty strict with our kids bedtimes too which is NOT easy in Morocco. We put the kids down by 9pm (they usually aren't home from school/tutor until 6:30). Bedtime for us is (if not a full shower) than washing their faces, feet and legs (sand/dust/dirt yuck!), reading in English, then lights out. I don't force them to go to sleep but do require they are quiet in their room until they fall asleep.

Olena Centeno
Such a great topic! We also have 5 min fun massage accompanied by fun rhyme. It relaxes kids a lot and they usually tell me their deepest "secrets" after it. And I love it!


Natalie Figge
Lucy, from very early on my German husband insisted on establishing routines, and our daughter responds very well to it. She is almost 7 now, and her bedtime routine starts at 7 pm sharp. She is usually in bath until 7:30, then we do supplementary math together until 8 pm. Then she reads until 8:20 pm, I come for the last cuddle, song and bedtime talk, lights off at 8:45 pm, and she is usually fast asleep at 9 pm

Lisa E Lewis
Ours is similar to a lot above. We live in Texas. It varies, a bit since our ages are 5 and 12. For both we have dinner, take a bath, read (older daughter does homework), say prayers and lay in bed and talk a while. I lay and snuggle with both my children until they are close to sleep. I enjoy this as much as they do. I am looking forward to reading your post.



Light & love