How a Bedtime Routine is Similar to a Family Tradition

With the holiday season in full swing, many families will find themselves partaking in family traditions that have been passed down over the years. Christmas Eve at grandma’s, midnight mass, opening a book the night before Christmas. And truthfully, family traditions aren’t that different than a bedtime routine.

How? You may ask. Come along on this journey.

Family traditions can change as the years go on.

Yes, the concept of a family tradition is that it stays the same throughout the years. But as the years go on and families grow and change, traditions often change with them.

For example, every Christmas Eve, my entire mom’s side of the family would gather at my grandma’s house. She’d make enchiladas. Aunt Mary would make cookies and rice crispy treats. My cousin and I would sit in the exact same spot in front of the toy box.

But as my cousin and I got bigger, we no longer fit in that space. And as people got married, they would alternate years between our family’s event and their significant other’s. And when the pandemic hit, that halted everything and we didn’t gather at my grandma’s.

This year, we’re gathering, although not everyone is attending. And it’ll be at my aunt’s, not my grandma’s.

So how does this relate to a bedtime routine? 

A bedtime routine can change as the years go on.

When your little one is a baby, you may not bathe them every night. But as they enter the toddler years, a bath every night is almost a necessity. Or take books. An infant may be able to sit through one page of a book, but a toddler will request 3 books each night.

Changing bedtime routines as your little one grows is good and important. It’s being responsive to their needs and their development.

The second way that a bedtime routine is similar to a family tradition is…

Not everyone enjoys the traditions.

You may have a negative aunt that always rains on the parade each year. Or a cousin who complains about the gift exchange. Or a grandparent who refuses to make a change as the family grows. Or maybe just the thought of being with your family makes you cringe.

The point is, not everyone enjoys every tradition. And that’s okay.

Typically, you’ll hear about it from those who don’t like it. Or even if the tradition changes a little, you’ll get some pushback about it.

And that’s exactly how it is with a bedtime routine:

Not everyone will agree with your bedtime routine choices.

A 6:00 bedtime? Gasp! How dare you deprive your child of the fun that they could have by staying up later.

What?! They have to go to sleep alone? Let me just go in and sit with them…

You’re not really making them wear a sleep sack, right?

Why do they need to take a nap? Just let them skip it.

Well, I didn’t do that with my kids, and they are fine.

The list is truly endless when it comes to criticism moms will receive about the choices they make for their family.

The best response for those who criticize you? Ignore them. Or tactfully respond. In fact, I have a whole podcast episode where I talk about how you can navigate others who disagree with your sleep plan.

The truth of it is, you will always make the right choices for your kids. And it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say about it.

And the third way a family tradition is similar to a bedtime routine is…

It’s a great way for family to bond.

Despite the headaches that may accompany a family tradition, it’s an amazing opportunity for family to bond.

In my family, we don’t gather with all of the extended members as much as we used to, but the holidays can bring us together. It’s a time to catch up and hear about all of the new things going on in their lives. A chance to meet significant others. A chance to meet new additions to the family.

And even if we don’t always agree with one another, the holidays are a time where we can put that aside and enjoy togetherness.

And that’s exactly what a bedtime routine can be…

A chance for parents to bond with their children.

You may be out of the house working all day and only have the evening to bond with your child. So let’s make that time special.

Bathtime should be fun, or at least not stressful. You can add special moments into the routine that allow cuddles or tickles. You can run around and laugh together.

I know this is so hard to do, because at the end of the day, we’re tired.

But this is the last few moments before your child lays down to sleep for the entire night, and you want them to feel loved and happy. And having a strong bedtime routine can do that for your child.

If you’re currently struggling with bedtime and feel as though it’s a battlefield every night, check out this post where I sit down with a behavior analyst to talk through WHY your child is acting out and WHAT you can do about it.

Now I want to hear from you! Message me on Instagram and let me know – what’s your favorite holiday tradition?

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I’m Katie

certified pediatric sleep consultant

Fueled by equal parts caffeine and passion, I spend my days helping exhausted mamas get their babies the sleep they need. 

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