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Mums and dads share the best evening wind-down routines for restless kids

Our panel share their tips for helping little ones drift off more easily.


AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we’ve created a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads can share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way.

Unlike their long-suffering parents, young children seem to hate sleep. Just as your energy is dipping, your child decides that bed is simply not an option.

While there’s no magic solution to get restless little ones into bed (and off to sleep) without complaint, having an early evening routine that’s conducive to relaxing and decompressing can help. 

Some parents swear by nightly bathtime, while others stay dry with some storytime on the couch. This week, we asked our panel for their tips on getting kids into bedtime mode. 

What evening wind-down routine helps your little one drift off? 

Here’s a selection of the best responses…

Parents Panel All 7 - Copy - Copy - Copy Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly Source:

Bath or shower, her choice: Ellie Mae (four)  is constantly on the go, from morning to late at night. She’s not a napper, yet it’s still around midnight before she will settle down. As a result, every night is a battle, but there are some things that help. We give her a bath or a shower, whichever one she wants, then after that we will colour or make jigsaws together, then we will watch a bit of YouTube to get her sitting still and relaxed. When we go to bed she will read her book and I will read mine, and sometimes she will fall asleep this way – but otherwise it’s a matter of just turning out the lights and cuddling her until she drifts off. 

- Denise Cumiskey

A little TV before bed calms things down: Putting a bit of TV on while the four kids put their PJs on is something we regularly do, for two reasons: it takes some of the noise out of the house, and it means they sit and calm down a little. In bed, we’ll sometimes play a bit of music for them – one song each – before it’s time to settle in.

- Ross Boxshall

He picks the cartoons: The winding down routine in our house starts with two or three cartoons (of Tymek’s choice) before bath and teeth. In bed, we have a quick chat, storytime and a lullaby, and he’s usually pretty good at falling asleep by himself after that.

- Marta Lisiecka

Our routine usually starts about an hour before bedtime: Ed is allowed to watch two episodes of something on Netflix, or 20 minutes of RTÉ Jr. We usually do storytime sitting on the couch, where we are all involved, including the three-month old. Once PJs are on, he gets 15 minutes to play with his Lego and then into bed.

- Olly Keegan 

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More: 9 of the best-value outdoor toys for young kids, according to real mums and dads>

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