create a bedtime for yourself

The Way of the Happy Woman is always on my bedside table

Something to consider:

For most of you (I’m presuming) a bedtime routine for your children is a necessary part of your evening. Whilst the order of events may differ from house to house and from season to season, I’m guessing it goes something like: dinner – bath – pyjamas (singlet tucked in firmly!) – story time – milk/water – lights off – cuddles – sleep. This, of course, is the ideal and whilst it doesn’t go smoothly every night it is something we all like to create for our children; the best start to a good nights sleep (fingers crossed) and the makings of some special and tender childhood memories.

So why don’t you do it for yourself? Why is it so hard to nurture yourself like you do your children?

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the hours before midnight are the best for your sleep rhythms and so I aim to have lights out before 10pm. I have also created my own bedtime ritual that ensures I’m nourishing and nurturing my self – it’s my time to switch off and tune out, to enjoy a bath and read a book, if only a few pages. If I don’t make a point of practicing this ritual I get distracted by tv and my laptop, I find work that needs to be done and emails that need to be sent. None of it is necessarily urgent but I so easily slip into the habit of staying in front of the screen and before long I’ve lost track of time and it’s late into the night.

Sleep heals all ails; it boosts the immune system, soothes the nervous system and improves your mood. It makes everything better. Decent shut-eye is what all parents miss most about their life pre-kids; we all share high hopes for a full night of undisturbed sleep (just once, please!). The beauty of a bedtime ritual is that even if sleep is disturbed and broken, I still feel like I’ve had some time alone and space to be. It also relaxes me enough so that when sleep comes, I’m more likely to slip into a deep, relaxed rest rather than a light, agitated one.The benefits of a bedtime are plentiful but most pleasing is the way I feel the next day – I’m energised and happy, I work more productively and respond to situations instead of reacting to them. Creating a bedtime for myself is one of the best things I’ve done for my wellbeing.

I’d love to hear about the bedtime rituals in your home – for you and your children. And what books are you reading right now? I want to collate a holiday reading list for Bali!

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Showing 32 comments
  • mamatribe
    Reply

    Once my little one falls asleep (in our big bed) I sneak back out to the lounge room for a cup of tea and some reading – preferably of the printed kind, but sometimes on the screen.

    I'm reading a few books at the moment. One is called Colour – a Journey by Victoria Alexander. It is WONDERFUL. Have you read it Jodi? I think you'd like it too.

    x

  • Ruby Hoppen
    Reply

    I have always been an early to bed early to rise sort of person, I find that my productivity in the morning is very high! Casper goes to bed at 7, after a bath, we read him stories and he has milk and then he goes to sleep by about 7:30-8 depending on how difficult he is finding it! I have been reading before bed for the last few nights. A book called "Alice Neel, the art of not sitting pretty." it's very exciting for me to read as she is one of my favourite portrait painters and it goes onto great detail about her life, loves and paintings.

  • summerplayshouse.com
    Reply

    We're just starting bedtime routine's in our house. We've been doing the bath, pj's, teeth brushed, book and nurse to sleep, but now that my little one is a year and she's getting lots of new teeth and hitting new milestones, our routine is somewhat all over the place. We sometimes recap the day for her though which I like doing. It's a way for me to wind down as well. We talk quietly to her about what we did and what we are going to do… "We played in the sandbox and then took a walk and …. we brushed our teeth and read a book and now its time to go night night."

    Good reminders to shut off the computer hours before bed. That's a tough one for me. I am reading a wonderful book though that's helping me relax and see things in other ways. WABI SABI: Timeless Wisdom For a Stress Free Life By Agneta Nyholm Winqvist

  • tinajo
    Reply

    I wish I could sleep by 10 PM, instead I seem to be a true night owl and fall alseep around 11.30 PM (which of course means I don´t sleep enough). Maybe one day I´ll change..! 🙂

    http://tinajoathome.com/

  • motherwho
    Reply

    I just finished reading (or shall I say: devouring!) this book. It has made me reconsider my own daily rhythm, it's easy to forget that while so much focus is always on the kiddies and their routine.

  • Kym Piez
    Reply

    I love this post, and am so passionate about getting enough sleep, I posted about it yesterday (link below)! Our routine is the same for our children: bedtime at 7:30pm after dinner, bathtime, story and prayer of thanks. On Friday nights we usually include some singing of kid's songs to add to the bedtime story. As an adult, I'm in bed by 9pm, but find that reading myself to sleep works really well! I only get to a page or two and I can't keep my eyes open. On my bedside table are: Happy Home by Charlott Hedeman Guieniau (totally inspiring homes!), The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. The fact that I go to sleep after reading may not be an indicator of a good book, but I can't wait to finish any of them (although Happy Home is mostly a picture book and so will be finished first. It's a library loan and due back tomorrow!) Oh Bali. You lucky girl.

    http://kympiez.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/the-simple-most-important-thing-you.html

  • Kirsty
    Reply

    I love my sleep! My husband and I are usually asleep by 8, sometimes by 7.30pm, as we go to sleep with the kids, but then we wake up around 4am… fully rested for a few hours of writing and study time before the little ones wake! Although it would be nice to have our own bedtime rituals, it's also nice to share the kid's ones! I'm just about to start re-reading A Sideways Look at Time by Jay Griffiths and I'm very much looking forward to reading her new book, Kith.

  • Jess
    Reply

    This is such a great idea.
    I say this as I am sitting at my computer at 1:01 AM, after what turned out to be a nap from 8:00-11:00 as I passed out after putting the baby to bed.
    I have been reading a lot of books on my kindle, which is so convenient and easy to do whilst knitting, but it's just one more screen in my life. I need to return to good old paperbacks.
    Right now I am reading Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. I wanted to form my own opinion of this one, since there have been very vocal critics in the positive and negative about this book.
    Also, Reza Aslan is dishy.
    I just finished A Dance with Dragons, the 5th book in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin.
    It was good, though he's a little too fond of killing off characters that I like.
    This summer I also read (and this was total brain candy) Divergent and Insurgent, which are dystopian dramas in the vein of The Hunger Games. The final installment, Allegiant is due out this fall. They were quick and fun.
    I thank you again for this post, I need to make a conscious effort to do more for myself at bedtime.

  • aluminiumgirl
    Reply

    Children: bath (teeth, hair, pjs), books and bed routine. Fave books at the moment: Dr Seuss Seuss-case (Miss 3); Miss 5 loves "Extra Yarn" and "Stuck". Giving thanks, kisses and cuddles and lullabies (otherwise known as Mummy-versions of Beatles and Carole King tunes, at 6:30pm for sleeptime).

    Me: Tea and catch up conversation, kisses and cuddles on the couch with Hubby; shower; books in bed. Currently reading AM Homes "May We Be Forgiven" (http://www.amhomesbooks.com/books/may-we-be-forgiven). Sleep at 10/ 10:30pm.

  • Bohemian Beautiful
    Reply

    I am guilty of spending far too much time in front of a screen and neglecting my body, not providing it with the sleep it needs. A lovely post and a beautiful reminder to slow down.

  • Sarah Raaen
    Reply

    I love a good bedtime routine – in the cooler months I adopt a pretty regimented routine of body brushing, cleansing & moisturising, as my skin becomes incredibly dry & I often suffer from dermatitis/psoriasis, just before I hop into bed. It helps to relax my mind & body.
    I only wish I could read before bed, yet it just awakens my mind & I struggle to sleep afterwards. Instead I read in the mornings, coffee in hand, before I set out on my day.
    xx

  • oscarlucinda
    Reply

    Hi lovely Jodi! It's been so long since I've sent you a little message. I've been popping in though – and am very excited for you about the Bali trip…At the moment my evenings are taken up with finishing off Saskia's baby album and memory box (it's been quite a project!), and I have to admit, sometimes the hour gets later and later depending on how lost in the project I find myself. I always find I sleep better after a bath. Something K and I have been doing a lot of lately is having some sort of dessert (trying to be healthy we've been stuffing apples with sultanas, almonds, butter and honey – served with a creamy yogurt) together on the couch once Saskia is in bed – I really look forward to it…As for books, I recently read 'Behind the Beautiful Forevers' and it is quite an amazing read (set in India – narrative nonfiction – quite unlike anything I have read before) – and I'm about to start Anna Funder's 'All that I am', as have had so many people recommend it…Sleep tight xxx

  • Astred*designcherry
    Reply

    I like your commitment but I think it would take a serious mind shift for me to have a bed time routine.
    After bub is in bed by 7.30 I either collapse on the couch with my iPad and social media. Or head back to the studio to keep working. When I look up and can't focus anymore it means it's time for bed. I prep the following days clothes/lunches then crawl into bed.
    When I really can't turn off my mind I have a hot hot shower and that releases a lot of tension and calms me for sleep.
    Am currently re-reading 'Just my type' by Simon Garfield. It's a non-fiction book about fonts and typefaces in a conversational style. I love it, I am in type nerd heaven.

  • Charlotte Rigby
    Reply

    The happy book sounds great, I've just downloaded the sample (one of the good things about e-readers, though I'm still not sure about reading them before bed – its a screen, will it keep me awake!). I don't have much of a routine anymore, night-time seems to be when I'm most awake now, but I think I need to start, it really does seem to help! I like the idea of body-brushing, reading and a warm drink though, even though it is summer here.

  • Rebecca
    Reply

    I am so bad with my own night time routine. I need to commit to be better about it, because I think I would sleep more soundly. It's so easy to stay too long online after the babes are asleep!

  • Briseidy
    Reply

    agreed! I think is so important to have a routine for ourselves..thanks for this 🙂

  • Lou Archell
    Reply

    Bali!! My favourite place, my very place I landed when I went out travelling in my 20's.. oh how I wish to return. Ubud is so incredible, I do hope you visit. x

  • mary
    Reply

    very wise words. my husband has been away for 7 weeks at a language school, and since i've been flying kind of solo (i'm living in an apartment a driveway away from my parents and siblings!), i've been trying to be in bed by 10:30. i've noticed that i wake up feeling much more refreshed and at a regular time each morning. sleep is definitely essential for me to respond instead of react like you said.

  • Sophie Ferdinandsen
    Reply

    Here I am.. Late at night at the computer.. Well, thank you for reminding me about the importance of caring for you basic needs (like sleep).. It's so true 😉

  • Gaby
    Reply

    i love that book too. i was just re-reading the summer chapter before coming to this side of the world. i'd love to do her teacher training someday x

  • Kelly Rae
    Reply

    My husband changes our daughter's diaper, puts her into pajamas. Then I walk her through the house saying goodnight to things then read her a book. I usually read her something I'm interested in reading (right now it's this: Misadventures of a garden state yogi). I only get through a couple of pages and she's ready to nurse. I wrap her legs in a swaddle and nurse her as long as she likes in the sidelying position. Then I transition her the crib-roll her onto her tummy and turn on the sound machine + close the door. She babbles to herself for a little bit then goes to sleep (somewhere between 7:20-7:40pm) Originally we had no schedule or routine for her and she really does better with the structure. Otherwise we have a very overtired child on our hands.

    After she's in bed I take a shower + pajamas and into bed. I internet for awhile and then read. I look around my instagram and then I lay down around 9-9:20pm. Then we all wake up close to 6am. ouch. We tried pushing her bedtime later and she just kept her wakeup time. another ouch.

    What I'm reading right now: Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams So far it's really interesting.

  • Pink Ronnie
    Reply

    Jodi, you have inspired me to TRY and have a bath tonight, and TRY and get to bed by half past ten.
    Now that's saying a lot. 🙂
    Ronnie xo

  • freckles
    Reply

    I wish i could have some sort of bedtime routine for myself but my 10 month old daughter is a night owl & often refuses sleep before 11pm which kills me as i'm not a night person. I feed her dinner, bath her, put her in her pyjamas & when she starts showing tired signs i breastfeed her to sleep. I wish i could bring her bedtime forward so i could enjoy a relaxing evening, instead i crash out as soon as I put her to bed & get up to her throughout the night & start the day again at 7. I'm exhausted, hopefully this won't last forever & i can have some quality sleep! I'm sure you have read it already but i love Buddhism For Mothers & i like to re-read it when i get a chance.

  • Elisa {With Grace and Eve}
    Reply

    Love this post. Have recently made a little stretching, a little gratitude and a little book reading my bed-time ritual xx

  • Alison @ The Thrifty Issue
    Reply

    I totally agree – sleep defines me, and how my day will turn out. I'm usually in bed by 9.30 and follow the same routine as yourself. Reading one of my hubby's books – I can't even remember the name of it … it's okaaaaay – to heavy for holiday reading. Enjoy 🙂 Cheers, Alison (#Maxabella Loves)

  • Naturally Carol
    Reply

    I love to have a shower, get into comfy pjs and read for about half an hour or a bit longer while listening to the radio. With Mr W away, the radio shuts out all the creaks and little noises that happen under the house! Then I like to rub a little night cream on, hand cream on, a final sip of water with a vitamin pill and snuggle under the doona. When I'm warm I'm off to sleep. I guess it sometimes takes about an hour and a half..of course there are exceptions when I just fall into bed with a minimum of preparation but my little routine relaxes me and gets the day out of my head.

  • randomactsofzen.com
    Reply

    It's so nice to finish the day with a little winding down and relaxation before actually falling asleep 🙂
    Enjoy Bali!

  • Renee Wilson
    Reply

    Very good point. I've been going to bed later and later and am a zombie the next day. I really do need to work out a routine for myself. Thanks for the pep talk 🙂

  • Maxabella
    Reply

    I used to be so good at my bedtime ritual, in by 10:30, lights out at 11. Lately I've been pushing this hard, though and midnight panics me into bed. Not good. x

  • Kate
    Reply

    Love to see that book on your nightstand… I've said it before to many a person, it's one that's changed my life. I have to always have it close on hand to reference all my favorite parts again and again! In fact, this has inspired me to pick up and re-read some of the summer chapters while I am relishing in the last of the carefree warm days xx

  • Amanda
    Reply

    I agree with Kate above… I've found this to be a 'life changing book' and one that I refer to over and over again. I've been trying to switch off my laptop in the final hour before bed too… preferring to read to unwind and prepare myself for sleep x

  • sunny
    Reply

    I have a morning routine but not an evening out. The body really does love a routine – at any age! I need to shut down electronics earlier and read. I hear fiction helps you prepare for sleep more than non-fiction which stimulates the brain. No thank you; my brain races enough on its own! I might try a bath or shower followed by reading. Sounds soothing. After struggling with insomnia for two years, I'm finally sleeping again. A routine will help that too!

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